The past hundred years have been rife with conflict and war on a global scale. The development of photography and photojournalism over the years have brought to light not only the realities of the front lines but the devastating after-effects of conflict.
These photos show just how much warfare has changed over the years, yet how the end result remains the same.
This first image really made me think.
This image shows the faces of German prisoners of war, captured by Americans, watching a film about a concentration camp. We’re conditioned to think of all German soldiers who fought in WWII as evil Nazis who willingly took part in Hitler’s quest for domination. In reality, many were foot soldiers fighting for their country, who were horrified to see what their top brass had been up to.
9. The Christmas Truce
On Christmas in 1914, five months into World War I, German and Allied soldiers were dug into their opposing trenches on the Western Front in Belgium and France when they defied their superiors to declare a truce. They used a tin can as a substitute for a soccer ball, and, for a little while, traded the grim duties of war for a bit of fun.
This next picture is a bit bizarre.
8. Gas Masks All Around
While chemical agents have been used for thousands of years in warfare, the first large-scale use of chemical weapons was during World War I. German and French troops especially used poison gas to weaken and kill their enemies. In this picture, we see a soldier with his gas mask on, as well as a makeshift gas mask made for his faithful horse.
This next picture shows a crazy juxtaposition of old and new.
7. Shades Of Things To Come
World War I saw many changes in the way technology was used in warfare. Early on, planes were used mainly for observation, and pilots would fly off armed only with pistols (or completely unarmed). Here we see a French cavalry unit, complete with swords, observe an Army airplane fly past.
6. Hockey For Morale
This picture shows Canadian soldiers playing hockey on the frozen Imjin River during the Korean War. Many of the soldiers had brought their hockey sticks to Korea in the hopes of getting some slapshot practice in while they served. The games were so popular and such a morale booster that the Canadian commanders threw support behind them and had extra equipment brought in for the troops.
This next photo shows a dark time in our nation’s past.
5. Dark Times
In World War II, between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced to relocate to and incarcerated in camps in the western interior of United States. This photo shows members of the Mochida family awaiting an evacuation bus. Mr. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in California, where he raised snapdragons and sweet peas. The internment is considered to have resulted more from racism than from any security risk posed by Japanese Americans.
4. The Blitz
In the summer and autumn of 1940, Germany’s Luftwaffe conducted thousands of bombing runs, attacking military and civilian targets across the United Kingdom. At first, they bombed only military and industrial targets. But after the Royal Air Force hit Berlin with retaliatory strikes in September, the Germans began bombing British civilian centers. This photo shows the aftermath of one such bombing.
This next photo looks a bit silly at first, but once you learn the story makes sense.
3. Operation Paul Bunyan
On August 18, 1976, U.S. Army officers Arthur Bonifas and Mark Barrett were sent to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as part of a work party tasked with trimming a poplar tree in the DMZ that partially blocked the view U.N. observers. They were attacked with axes and killed by the North Koreans, who claimed that the tree was planted by Kim Il-Sung.
Three days later, American and South Korean forces launched Operation Paul Bunyan, an operation that cut down the tree with a show of force to intimidate North Korea into backing down, which it did.
2. The First Skin Graft
Before it was associated with celebrity nips and tucks, plastic surgery was about saving lives. This picture shows the first ever skin graft in 1917, on a British man named Walter Yeo. Yeo was a sailor who had been horribly burned in combat. His nose was shattered, and his eyelids were torn completely off. Using skin from Yeo’s neck and upper chest, his doctor made a mask of skin that he transplanted across Yeo’s face. It helped to repair the damage that had been done, hiding his disfiguration and letting him close his eyes at night once more.
1. Best. Hangover. Ever.
This photograph shows the celebration of victory in World War II in Moscow’s Red Square, in the Soviet Union. Fireworks began on May 9, 1945, followed by bursts of gunfire and a sky illuminated by searchlights. It’s been said that so much vodka was consumed in the ensuing celebration that Moscow ran out for 22 hours.