Eerie WW2 Photos That Reveal a Haunting Side of History

February 17, 2024

The devastated remains of Hiroshima, Japan just days after U.S. forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing upwards of 140,000, on August 6, 1945.

In the midst of World War II, the world was plunged into darkness. The horrors of war had spread like a deadly virus, engulfing everything in its path. The global conflict had impacted every facet of human life, leaving destruction and devastation in its wake. Amidst this bleak landscape, color photography served as a beacon of hope, offering a glimmer of light in a world shrouded in darkness.

These colorized photos of World War II provide a unique perspective on the most devastating conflict in human history. They offer a glimpse into the lives of soldiers and civilians alike, and showcase the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. Through these images, we are transported back in time, and invited to bear witness to the heroism, sacrifice, and tragedy that defined this monumental period in history. Join us on this journey through time, as we explore the vivid and haunting world of colorized World War II photography.

(AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

The morning of August 6, 1945, was just another summer day in Hiroshima, Japan, until an atomic bomb, dropped by a U.S. B-29 bomber named Enola Gay, exploded over the city. The blast, equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT, destroyed buildings and infrastructure in a 5-mile radius and killed an estimated 70,000 people instantly, with tens of thousands more dying in the months and years to come from radiation sickness and other injuries. The bomb was intended to force Japan's surrender in World War II, which it did just days later after another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The long-term effects of the bombings on the health and well-being of survivors, known as hibakusha, are still being studied and debated to this day.

Soviet soldiers charge during the Siege of Leningrad, January 1, 1943.

(Vsevolod Tarasevich/Russian International News Agency via Wikimedia Commons)

On January 1, 1943, the Siege of Leningrad was in full force, a brutal and unrelenting assault on the people of the city that had been ongoing for over a year. The siege had begun in September 1941, with German forces encircling the city and cutting off all supply lines, effectively trapping the population inside. What followed was a period of unspeakable hardship and suffering, as the people of Leningrad were subjected to starvation, disease, and constant bombardment by enemy forces. But even in the face of such adversity, the people of Leningrad refused to give up, their unbreakable spirit a testament to the resilience of the human will. Food was scarce and fuel even scarcer, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing, but the people of Leningrad persevered, finding ways to survive and even thrive in the midst of unimaginable hardship. The siege would ultimately last for over 900 days, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, but the legacy of Leningrad lives on as a symbol of hope and perseverance in the face of even the darkest of times.