Sunday, January 8, 2023

Horrible World War 2 Images


There are a lot of truly gruesome photos from World War II, as I have written about elsewhere. Here, for instance, is a photo of the instant of death of a young German soldier in 1943. This was not an unusual event, but the timing of the photographer certainly was.

It is easy to think that soldier gear such as helmets are adequate. However, the helmet did not stop a well-aimed rifle shot at this unlucky Wehrmacht soldier.

Wars are hard, and it is important to remember that when you are rooting for one side or the other. Here, a young Chinese boy is beheaded because he was caught fifty cents of American currency. Something as simple and meaningless as that could end your life.

The aftermath of a German atrocity at Komdomari, Crete. It was a beautiful spring day shortly after the Luftwaffe assault on the island in 1941, but it only led to death for these unlucky villagers.

The Bataan death march in the Philippines is notorious. Here, some American and Filipino prisoners of war try to survive the brutality. If you fell behind during the march or collapsed in exhaustion, the guards indifferently finished you off.

War is not pretty. Here are dead Soviet solders during the counteroffensive from Moscow in early 1942. The history books write of it as a grand Soviet victory, which it was, but not for these poor men.

Sometimes the brutality occurred in unexpected ways. Here, two Chinese men are executed by other Chinese. The reason was the simmering hatred between the Nationalist Chinese government and the communists, both supposedly fighting the Japanese but often fighting each other.

Beheading was common in the Asian theater, though not practiced in Europe. It is always surprising how so often there are smiling faces in the background during such a solemn moment.

Here are dead American GIs in Germany during the offensive into Germany. The scenic little towns became deathtraps for many soldiers due to snipers hiding in attics and behind trees.

At Ivangorod, Ukraine, an Einsatzgruppe death squad simply marched local villagers into a field and shot them. Often, the Germans made them dig their own graves first, but apparently not this time.

Here, the Japanese are using Sikh prisoners for target practice. Later photos show them all dead.

The killing during World War 2 could be quite impersonal. Here, teenager Kazimiera Mika tries to revive her dead sister during the early days of the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. It was the first time she had experienced death, and it was caused by a passing plane on a strafing run.

A photo of the Lviv pogrom of July 1941, with young hooligans chasing a Jewish woman. The German invasion was a chance for some locals to even old scores and act on ancient hatred.

A pile of skulls at the Majdanek extermination camp. Most of these would have found their way into the ovens, but this unlucky batch likely occurred right before the liberation when there as no time.

Another surprising but very common scene from World War 2 was soldiers posing with the bodies of people they had just killed. This was from the Rape of Nanking, but similar images exist from throughout the war, and from both sides.

Here, a Finnish soldier prepares to execute a smiling man identified as a Soviet spy in late 1942. It was amazing how many people on the threshold of death could appear happy, many photos show similar attitudes.

However, smiling did not prevent a spy's inevitable fate. These photographs were classified until released by the Finnish government in 2006.

Being young and female was not a way to avoid execution, either. Here, teenaged Masha Bruskina is shown being executed for being accused of partisan activities. Two other men were hanged along with her.

This photo shows the Bochnia massacre. Often, especially early in the war, the Germans would just line up people in front of a firing squad. Later, they were just sent to extermination camps.

About five thousand German airborne troops lost their lives during Operation Mercury, the conquest of Crete. While the invasion was successful, it shocked the Germans. Adolf Hitler vowed to never use parachute troops the same way, which may have spared Malta a year later.

A truly creepy end - SS leader Heinrich Himmler dead after committing suicide following his capture by British soldiers in 1945. The location of his grave is still unknown.

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