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21 WW2 Photos That You Must See

Brooke Hurbert

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Even for the youngest of us, World War II’s resonance has not finished affecting our collective psyche. For Millennials, many of our grandparents fought or nursed during the Second World War. In those cases, we have pictures of our ancestors in uniform. Here are 21 photographs from World War II that will likely affect you, no matter what age you are.

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Here, an American soldier has found the grave of an unknown U.S. Soldier. The enemy buried the body before retreating. The first American soldier to find the grave decorated it with ferns and mortar shells.

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Bodies of American and German soldiers lie wrapped in mattress covers, as German prisoners dig graves. Exact whereabouts of this photograph are unknown.

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Rohrwiller, Germany, February 4th 1945: An M-10 Tank Destroyer from the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion with the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division, rolls past an unknown town’s heavily shelled church.

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The French FFI escorts German Prisoners of War, from the German Military Police Force as well as Gestapo agents, from Strasbourg to the 3rd Infantry Division.

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In Lug, Germany: the remnants of a German group which tried to escape encirclement by the U.S.’s 3rd and 7th Armies. Vehicles and wrecked equipment and  remain.

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A German factory that may have been possibly located in Schweinfurt. A row of machines for polishing and grinding, for finishing the ball-bearings, can be seen. All sizes of bearings were made here.

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400 lbs of TNT inside English anti-tank mines are used to blow up Pill Boxes in this shot. A “pill box” is the term for a machine gun emplacement.

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This is the German town of Winger-sur-Moder. American forces, stationed at the close-by mountain, are trying to take it over. They were infiltrated by six SS-Gebirgsjager Division troops overnight; U.S. Prisoners of War were taken. The burning seen in the photograph is the town’s Hotel Wenk; it was hit by a tracer bullet, causing the fire. In the church tower (seen off to the left,) a German lookout and sniper is stationed to try to stave off the U.S. forces.

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The helmet atop a rifle here were left to mark the bodies of two U.S. Infantrymen. The Seventh Army were on a drive of a new front, fifty miles between Saarbrucken to the Rhine, when these soldiers’ lives were taken. The abandonment of one’s weapon surely was worth marking a fallen body, in the hopes that someone with more time and tools could give these men a proper burial.

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Soldiers from the Seventh Army in a German town within the Bobenthal. They are searching for any German snipers that may be hidden in the building. The Tudor-style looking house contrasts greatly with the 20th century soldiers and their machine guns.

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This M914 155mm Howitzer was in the process of getting towed by a wrecker, but when it got stuck in the mud, the Germans had to call in a bulldozer to dislodge it. The U.S. Army’s Howitzer artilley gun was used in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, before being replaced by the M918 Howitzer.

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One can see the “crash path” of a B-17 plane on a snowy field in this shot, on the Seventh Army front. The plane’s crew bailed out, all except for the pilot; he rode the plane as it went down, and managed to survive the crash with only minor scrapes. In the foreground, see the burnt pole that was clipped by the plane on the way in.

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This is – or rather, was – the town of Heilbronn, Germany. Like so many European towns during World War II, this one was all but obliterated by the war. More trees are seen standing in this photograph than buildings. At least a church spire is clearly remaining; that likely gave the poor civilians some solace, and even shelter, as all the rest of their town was destroyed in a conflict they weren’t even involved in (except for their men … )

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On the first day of the Seventh Army offensive in Germany, on March 15th, this German plane was shot down by small arms fire. The German pilot’s charred remains are visible in the photograph. Interestingly enough, experts believe they have identified this plane as a U.S. P-47. It must have been taken over and re-purposed by German forces.

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The cloud comes from the detonation of explosives bringing down a German bridge. The feat of U.S. engineers, the bridge’s destruction helped the U.S. Army hold off German forces trying to retake the town. Wood splinters fly through the air. How deafening it must have been.

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Remains of German Howitzers and a German soldier, casualties of the Seventh Army, are seen; a U.S. soldier stands next to the body. One wonders if the soldier wished he could just walk from the carnage and wreckage into those lovely hills and trees in the background.

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The German soldiers in this photo are on the losing side, but they seem to look happy that the the war is finally over after five years of fighting. Here, the soldiers of the 19th Army are seen surrendering Germany to the Allied Forces, giving over their rifles to the Americans in Landeck, Austria. Surrendered hand grenades and other fighting equipment can also be seen. The war equipment creates quite a contrast with the idyllic Austrian countryside in the background, which could host Julie Andrews singing about how the hills are alive.

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This road leads to an important town in Austria, a stronghold once defended by German soldiers. Those same German soldiers are seen marching down the road they defended as Prisoners of War in this photo. While the line of men ends in the distance, there were approximately 1000 soldiers. This Austrian town was given up by the Germans without too much resistance at this point; however, other key Austrian towns were defended tooth and nail by the Germans close by.

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Just a small segment of the Hungarian troops who surrendered to the Seventh Army are seen in this photo. The leader of these troops claimed they had been used as service and labor troops. Interestingly, the location is Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where the last Winter Olympics to occur before the War were held. It is a mountain resort town in Bavaria, Southern Germany, on the border with Austria.

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German civilians stand in the middle of their former town; it looks like maybe one building still stands in full. General Palmer wrote on the back of this photo that it was a “well liberated town.” I wonder if these civilians would agree! A man with a cart picks through for salvageable scraps of … anything. Three other civilians help him.

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General Palmer scrawled on this photo that this was a “friendly little town town, that was ‘scorched.'” It was a French town, which the Germans mined and then burned. Smoke and dust are seen creating a haze in the sky.

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History

Could the Wreck of the Last Slave Ship Have Been Found?

Cynthia Brooke

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The international slave trade was outlawed far before slavery itself was banned in the United States; however, these laws didn’t stop people from trying to smuggle in new slaves of their own. During the height of slavery, one owner of an Alabama plantation made a friendly wager with a friend that he could still smuggle slaves into this country on his boat, which he called the Clotilda; however, one a fateful day in the hot summer of 1860, this plantation owner was worried that the authorities were going to catch them. He had just returned from West Africa and had to quickly unload his slaves in the middle of the night. Then, he set his beloved Clotilda on fire in an effort to hide the evidence in the Mobile Delta.

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A Possible Discovery by a Local Reporter

Now, close to 160 years later, a reporter from Alabama claims to have possibly found the wreck of this boat. Following a “bomb-cyclone” that went through the area in January of 2018, the wreck might have been revealed. Ben Raines, a reporter for AL.com, used historical records and the journal of the Clotilda’s captain to start his search. The intrepid reporter also relied on interviews from the time, local lore, and even the memoirs of local residents.

Revealed by a Massive Cold Front, a Bomb-Cyclone

As a result of the massive cold front, a burned-out wreckage of a ship was revealed just a few miles north of the Mobile Delta, where the ship was supposedly ditched. There are iron spikes, charred wood, and what appeared to be the body of the boat. The reporter, who posted a video along with one of his recent articles, stated that he had a gut feeling that this might be the wreckage of the long-lost slave ship. He might have uncovered a piece of the international slave trade.

A Chapter of the International Slave Trade

About thirty years after setting the boat ablaze, the financier of the voyage boasted about his smuggling abilities to a local newspaper. This newspaper story highlighted the importance of the slave trade to the local area. Many slaves were brought in from Benin (located in Africa) aboard the famous ship, even after emancipation had been declared. This area was dubbed “Africatown.” Since that time, many of the local residents can trace their roots back to ancestors who were brought over on this ship, signifying the place that the Clotilda has in history. Furthermore, historians such as Sylviane Diouf have even written entire books discussing the ship.

With the Help of Drone Technology: Gathering Evidence

Raines took a drone and recorded some aerial videos and snapshots of the famous wreck once it had been uncovered. Furthermore, he even took a visit to the site of the wreckage with a specialist to analyze the build and construction of the boat. With the help of professionals, everyone agreed that the design of the ship matched that of other boats that had been built during the time period of the international slave trade. Furthermore, it did show signs that it had been set ablaze, further confirming the identity of the vessel. In order to gather more evidence and information, he will need access to the hull of the ship. It could hold other artifacts that might identify it as a slave ship. Unfortunately, this will require Raines obtaining special permits to access the body of the vessel. With more time, funding, and manpower, Raines might be able to learn more about this small piece of history.

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History

A Recovered 1930s Interview Tells The Story Of The Surviving Slavery

Brooke Hurbert

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Many avid readers enjoy a good book by Zora Neale Hurston. What they may not know about her is that her talents ran much deeper than writing. Unbeknownst to many, she tracked down a man with an extraordinary story to tell. She found not just any man, but the last one that survived being held captive on a ship filled with slaves being transported from Africa to the U.S. 

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Not only did Hurston find this man, she thoroughly interviewed him as well. Unfortunately, she was not able to put the interview into book form, despite her best efforts. It wasn’t until 2018 that the interview was finally published in the form of a book titled Barracoon: The Story of The Last “Black Cargo.” With the release of Hurston’s book many longtime unanswered questions were suddenly answered. 

Barracoon tells the story of a man born with the name Kossula, which later became Cudjo Lewis.  When he was born he lived in Benin, a country in West Africa. At the age of 19 he was kidnapped by the Dahomian tribe. Against his will he was moved to the coast and sold as a slave, along with approximately another 120 men. He and the other slaves were forced to reside on the Clotilda, a slave ship which would take them from their home country to America.

In 1860 the ship arrived in Alabama with all captured slaves on board.  Despite the declaration in the U.S. that slavery was legal, bringing slaves in from other countries was illegal. The ship arrived in Alabama during overnight hours. They were then confined to an area swamp for a matter of days. For fear of being caught, the kidnappers set the ship on fire. There is a distinct possibility that the remains of the ship were found in early 2018. 

Those that read the book will get a firsthand view of the ordeal through Lewis’s eyes. Throughout the book, Lewis expresses how it felt to be sold into slavery against his will. He talks about how even though his fellow slaves lived together on the ship, they were separated once they reached Alabama. Readers experience the pain of the ordeal right along with him. 

Lewis talks about how he struggled with being placed on a plantation he felt out of place in. Due to language barriers, he and the plantation workers could not effectively communicate. The frustration Lewis experienced during that time is evident throughout the story. He also shares with Hurston that the Civil War had started and he’d had no idea at the time. He later gained knowledge that the point of the war was to free him and his fellow slaves. 

Following Robert E. Lee’s April 1865 surrender, Lewis told Hurston that Union soldiers came to the boat he was working on. They then delivered the news that the slaves had finally be freed . Not content to return to his prior life, Lewis and his fellow freed slaves teamed up to purchase land in Alabama. Located near Mobile, the men transformed the land they christened Africatown. 

Though Hurston faced controversy for her handling of the book’s subject matter, she kept the book intact. Much of the book took Lewis’s exact words and put them on paper. At the time she was trying to get it published, this prevented her from being able to do so. As her readers know, Hurston was known for her controversial views on anthropology and not shying away from dialogue considered vernacular. Much of that is evident in this book. 

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History

When Trucking Leads to Change

Anjali DeSimone

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The United States decision to resupply the Israeli military marked the beginning of a national crisis. In response to this decision, Arab members of the OPEC banned exports of petroleum to the United States and other supporting countries of Israel. Subsequently, oil prices quadrupled, and the economy begin to suffer. One of the people affected by this crisis was JW Edwards, A meat truck driver from Overland Park, Kansas. In an attempt to financially survive the crisis, Edwards and other truck drivers made up code names to let each other know where to find diesel fuel; however, this this did not last very long, as many gas stations did not supply enough diesel to meet trucker demand.   No gas meant no deliveries, and no deliveries meant no money. Not only was there no gas, but there had been talk of changing the maximum speed limit to fifty-five miles per hour. Edwards knew that if this continued for too long, he would be forced out of business. “I had to take things into my own hands.” he said. “My family was depending on me.” 

On the night of December 3rd, while passing through Blakeslee, Pennsylvania Edwards ran out of gas in the middle of the interstate. He had had enough. He picked up his CB radio and invited other nearby truckers to come block the interstate in protest.

When John Robinson, a local trucker from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania heard Edwards on the radio, he headed that way to show his support. Robinson knew and understood Edwards’ frustration all to well as he and his family were also feeling the affects of the oil crisis. He had been in the trucking business for thirty years, hauling lumber from state to state. Not only was this his families only source of income, but at the time, his wife had recently given birth to their fourth child. “Some nights he would come home and not say nothing,” remembers Mrs. Robinson. “I knew that he was worried, but I trusted that he would figure it out.”

The protest stretched nearly twelve miles, causing a standstill for nearly one thousand vehicles. It wasn’t long before truckers in other states followed the lead. The protest caught national attention, and although some state leaders promised changed, gas prices continued to rise. Since the protest had begun, food shortages were on the rise and the economy was a mess due to the over 100,00 people who were now unemployed.

It wasn’t until a group of six truckers from the Independent Driving Association decided to come together to speak with government officials that things begin to get better. Government officials agreed to ensure that the truck stops had enough diesel fuel to meet the demands of the truckers. They also worked together to appeal the decision to decrease the maximum speed limit.

In March of 1974, approximately six months after it had all started the embargo ended.  Negotiations between Israel and Syria were finalized. The affects of the crisis however, including the high fuel prices, lasted  throughout the 1970s.  

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