Special Report

35 Horrifying Images of World War II

Harry Todd / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

To those who haven’t lived – or aren’t living – through it, war often seems distant, geographically and notionally. We read of sieges, battles, destruction, death and understand how tragic they are, but mere words don’t always fully capture war’s horrors – or, for that matter, its triumphs.

Photographs – along with films and videos – can vividly and unforgettably portray devastation that is almost incomprehensible. They can put a human face, literally, on unspeakable tragedy. (These are the countries that suffered the most civilian casualties in World War II.)

Photographs can also sometimes portray moments of victory, even instances of a certain dark humor.

Astonishingly, the first photographic images of war date back 175 years, to 1847, when an American photographer, his name now long forgotten, used the newly invented French Daguerreotype process to record scenes of the Mexican-American war.

Not long afterwards, in the 1850s, Roger Fenton, a British photographer, took memorable images of the Crimean War. He was followed by New York-born Mathew Brady, who photographed both sides of our own Civil War (and left us iconic portraits of Abraham Lincoln). Another Brit, Ernest Brooks, turned scenes of World War I into stunning works of art, often through the use of silhouettes.

Among the now-famous photographers who recorded World War II are Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Countless memorable images of the conflict, however, were also captured by anonymous or less well-known photographers, often working for wire services or newspapers or even for branches of the armed forces – even though the pictures they produced may live on forever. (Sometimes such pictures are difficult to look at, like these horrifying images of Nazi death camps.)

To assemble a collection of some of the most unforgettable images of World War II, 24/7 Tempo reviewed historical photo archives from sources, including from Getty Images and the Library of Congress. Some are tragic, some are hopeful, some are simply records of everyday life in wartime.

Source: Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima

Marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, near the end of the War in the Pacific.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

A fox hole in the Philippines

American and Filipino soldiers sharing a fox-hole during the battle for the Bataan Peninsula, April 7, 1942.

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

The attack on Pearl Harbor

An American destroyer, the USS Shaw, explodes when hit by Japanese bombs during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Advancing at El Alamein

Soldiers advancing during the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in the fall of 1942.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Hiding from bullets on Dam square Amsterdam

Civilians hiding behind lamp posts on Dam Square in Amsterdam as members of the German navy turn a machine gun on the crowd, killing as many as 32, during victory celebrations on May 7, 1945 – two days after the German surrender.

Source: Three Lions / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

The Nazis invade

German troops marching into Prague during the invasion of Czechoslovakia, March 30, 1939.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Getty Images / Archive Photos via Getty Images

| Prisoners at Buchenwald

Prisoners line up for roll call at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany in about 1943.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Smolensk in ruins

Destroyed buildings in the Soviet Union city of Smolensk, during the so-called Smolensk Operation of 1943.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Bettmann / Bettmann via Getty Images

Rescuing sailors from a burning ship

American sailors rescue survivors from the USS West Virginia during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Source: George Rinhart / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Cutting through barbed wire

A German soldier, covered by flame throwers, cuts through the defensive line in an unknown location.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Hulton Deutsch / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Burying British bombing victims

Victims of a Nazi air raid in London being laid to rest.

Source: Hulton Deutsch / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Waiting for evacuees from London

Children waiting for the train from London to arrive at Ipswich Station in Suffolk, bringing more evacuees transported out of the capital for their safety, in December 1939.

Source: adoc-photos / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Hugging a dog

Children hugging a dog outside a ruined house in Le Portel, in Pas-de-Calais in far northern France, February 1945.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Bettmann / Bettmann via Getty Images

Saving precious fuell

Australian troops rolling oil barrels away from fire caused by direct hits from Japanese bomber planes during a raid on an Allied oil reserves.

Source: adoc-photos / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Devastation in Saint-Lô

The northern French city of Saint-Lô lies in ruins in November 1944.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Michael Nicholson / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

A Russian surrendering

A Russian soldier with a T-26B light tank surrendering during an unspecified battle.

Source: Culture Club / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

German warships attacked

Royal Air Force bombers attacking German warships at Heligoland, Norway, circa December 1939.

Source: Hulton Deutsch / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

A bridge destroyed

A bridge somewhere in Poland after having been hit by German bombs.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Hulton Deutsch / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

A bombed out hospital

A destroyed ward in the Catholic Hospital of the Transfiguration in Praga, a Warsaw suburb, during the Nazi invasion of Poland, September 1939.

Russian civilians flee

Russian non-combatants fleeing their wrecked homes during the Battle of Leningrad, Dec. 10, 1942.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

A German aircraft factory bombed

Planes from the 8th Air Force bombing the Focke-Wulfe factory in Marienburg, Germany, which produced fighters for the Nazis, circa 1943

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Jews deported

Jews in an unspecified location being deported on trains to concentration camps as Nazi officers supervise, circa 1941.

Source: FPG / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Marking an American grave

A makeshift headstone for an American soldier killed during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Nick Yapp / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Opened by a censor

A pile of letters, probably in England, read by censors for sensitive material before okayed for delivery, circa November 1939.

Source: FPG / Archive Photos via Getty Images

The French army afloat

French soldiers conduct maneuvers on a raft on the Orne River in Normandy in 1937.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Harry Todd / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Trying out gas masks

Londoner telephone operators and engineers trying on their masks at the anti-gas civilian training center in Gloucester, circa February 1937.

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Germans on the move

Nazi soldiers advancing along a country road through Poland.

Source: Fox Photos / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Digging shelters

Workmen digging air raid shelters in Stockport, near Manchester.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Robert Sargent / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Landing on the beach in Normandy

Soldiers wading ashore from a landing craft during the Allied D-Day invasion of France along the Normandy coast, June 6, 1944.

Source: FPG / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Gas masks for the young

A German nurse fits a young girl with a government-issued gas mask, September 1937.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Fox Photos / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Loading the guns

Sailors loading the guns aboard the Royal Navy’s dreadnought battleship the HMS Iron Duke, 1939.

Source: George W. Hales / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Saving art

Paintings and empty frames on the floor of the National Gallery in London, as art is being stored in an undisclosed location in anticipation of damage caused by air raids.

Source: London Express / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Air raid meeting

A sign announcing a meeting about air raid precautions for parents on the barbed wire fence at St Peter’s School in London.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: General Photographic Agency / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Flying in formation

Luftwaffe planes flying in formation over an unspecified city, circa 1939.

The Easy Way To Retire Early

You can retire early from the lottery, luck, or loving family member who leaves you a fortune.

But for the rest of us, there are dividends. While everyone chases big name dividend kings, they’re missing the real royalty: dividend legends.

It’s a rare class of overlooked income machines that you could buy and hold – forever.

Click here now to see two that could help you retire early, without any luck required.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.