Forgotten WW2 Photos That Defined a Generation

March 25, 2024

A French man weeps as German soldiers march into Paris on June 14, 1940, after the Allied armies had been driven back across France.

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.

(Office of War Information/National Archives and Records Administration)

The fall of Paris to Nazi Germany in June of 1940 marked a turning point in the war, as the country that had long been a bastion of culture, art, and resistance fell to the brutal machinery of the German Wehrmacht. The speed and ferocity of the invasion were shocking, catching the French military off guard and leaving the country reeling in the face of overwhelming force. But even as the Germans celebrated their victory, a different kind of resistance was taking shape. Led by General Charles de Gaulle and the Free French, a group of determined soldiers and civilians refused to give up the fight, launching a campaign of guerrilla warfare against their occupiers and working tirelessly to undermine the Nazi and Vichy regimes. It was a time of great hardship and suffering, but also one of resilience and courage, as the people of France stood up to defend their homeland against a brutal and oppressive regime.

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.