Forgotten WW2 Photos That Defined a Generation

May 20, 2024

Roger Godfrin, the only survivor of a massacre during which Nazi troops locked 643 citizens (including 500 women and children) inside a church and set fire to it on June 10, 1944 in Oradour sur Glane, 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.

(AFP/Getty Images)

The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane in Nazi-occupied France on June 10, 1944 was a moment of unspeakable horror and tragedy, a brutal reminder of the inhumanity that can be unleashed in times of war. Just four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, a German Waffen-SS company descended upon the village, intent on punishing the population for their resistance activity in the area. What followed was a massacre of unprecedented scale and brutality, with 643 non-combatant men, women, and children slaughtered without mercy. The Germans showed no discrimination, murdering anyone they found in the village at the time, as well as innocent bystanders who happened to be passing through. Men were rounded up and executed in barns and sheds, their bodies doused in gasoline and set alight. Women and children were herded into a church and burned alive, with those who attempted to escape through the windows met with a hail of machine gun fire. The village was left in ruins, a haunting reminder of the senseless violence that had been inflicted upon it. In the aftermath of the war, a new village was built nearby, but President Charles de Gaulle ordered that the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane be preserved as a permanent memorial and museum, a stark reminder of the human cost of war and the need for peace and understanding.

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.