World War II Arthur Bondar Collection

The Liberation of Europe: From France to Germany

Author unknown / The US Army / 68 photos

The Liberation of Europe: From France to Germany

This previously unseen archive was found by the new owners of the house, which formerly most likely belonged to an American soldier who participated in World War II on the territory of Europe in 1944-45.

This unknown American soldier captured the first days of peace in the liberated, and just beginning to rebuild, cities of France and Belgium, and the last days of the war in Nazi Germany. The first part of the archive is a snapshot of the French capital, Paris, which had been liberated from occupation. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, rooftops and bridges of Paris appear in the photos. Soldiers are enjoying their victory, drinking wine and cognac in cafes in front of signs advertising Coca-Cola.

Further on, the U.S. Army arrives in Belgium (Brussels), where the photographer captured the bustling streets of the city along with the historic financial exchange building. After that, the troops advanced deep into Germany. The negatives include shots have taken during the movement of the U.S. Army, both by rail and in convoys. Along the way, we start to see burnt-out American tanks and broken German planes, as well as abandoned German anti-aircraft guns. And of course, upon arriving in Germany, the photographer did not remain indifferent to the traces of war. We can see the enormous destruction of German cities due to military actions and numerous bombing raids. There are many pictures of the streets and buildings of the destroyed cultural capital of Germany, the city of Cologne. The Royal Castle, Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge are depicted lying in ruins. Local residents mixed with American military personnel filled the ruined streets and squares of the city.

The German city of Mannheim, where the U.S. army arrived, looks exactly the same on the pictures. Mannheim was called a city of blocks until its center was completely destroyed by British aerial bombardment. Photographs show residents walking through the city's ruined blocks, between the remains of Baroque residential buildings. Some are carrying their belongings on carts. The American Red Cross center is on one street with military police jeeps parked nearby.

In this part of Germany, a photographer welcomed the end of the war, taking pictures in a garden with German girls during the first days of a peaceful life for Europe.

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The Battle of the Atlantic, Arctic convoys, and fighting Japanese kamikazes in the Pacific
Author unknown / The British Army / 68 photos