Fascinating Found Photos of the Soviet Union During WWII

There’s a strange and disconcerting back story to this found album of vintage photographs from the Soviet Union in the 1940s. We see the strife of war, from the ruins of a city on fire to military vehicles rattling down rural roads, all captured from the enemy’s point of view by an anonymous German solider serving under General Heinz Guderian in World War II. We witness villagers curiously, studiously photographed in their rags, mesmerizing pastoral scenes of snow-gusted fields, and a motorcycle speeding down a winding path lined with birch trees — images that are at once stunning and uncomfortable, given their context. Found by English Russia on LiveJournal, check out a small sampling, and see what you think. … Read More

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Superheroes Lurking in Vintage War Photographs

How would the major events of the world have been changed if superheroes truly existed? We may never know, but Indonesian photographer Agan Harahap, whose work we first spotted over at Design Taxi, takes a step towards imagining what it might have been like with these incredible vintage photos of World War II, manipulated to include superheroes and movie villains getting a piece of the action. The photos range from hilarious to poignant and even slightly disturbing — Batman giving orders to the paratroopers at Greenham airfield, Darth Vader sitting for pictures at Yalta, Captain American infiltrating a Russian prisoner-of-war camp — and a few of them make us feel a little better that superheroes don’t actually exist. After all, you never know whose side they might wind up on. … Read More

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Rare Color Photographs from Depression-Era America

We’ve all seen many photographs of Depression-era and World War II-era America, but we’re used to seeing them in black and white — the dominant medium at the time. These incredible photographs, which we spotted over at the International Business Times, were taken between 1939 and 1944 by photographers working for the United States Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information, and depict rural America (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and give glimpses of the war effort. There is something unnerving about seeing these photographs in color — as if that time wasn’t so far off from our own after all. Click through to look at some of our favorites, and if you can’t get enough of history in color, head over to the Times for even more. … Read More

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Personalized Air Force Bomber Jackets from WWII

During World War II, the A-2 leather flight jacket was standard issue for pilots, bombadiers, and others, who often decorated them with squadron patches, rank marks, or elaborate artwork celebrating their plane, their girl, or whatever they liked. Now, the jackets are rare to find, but the style is a classic, and so we were excited to see these great vintage photos of original flight jackets, still on the backs of their aircrewmen, over at the Retronaut. We love the way that, even in the regimented world of the Air Force, each man’s personality shines through from their chosen design — though we have to admit, there are a few omnipresent themes. Click through to see a few of our favorites, and then if you haven’t had enough, head over here to check out even more. … Read More

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Follow WWII in Real Time on Twitter

History buffs, we have a feeling you’ll be into this one. Our newest obsession (discovered via the ever-illuminating kottke) is following tweets from WWII — as it happened on the same dates and times 72 years ago, of course. A recent tweet, from a series of Lt. Gen. Alan Brooke writing in his… Read More

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Beautiful Triangular Soviet Union War Correspondence

For Soviet soldiers during WWII, the standard way to send letters home from the front was to fold them in delicate triangles. It may have been for practical purposes at the time, but now the surviving letters and beautiful artifacts of a troubled era. According to this fascinating article: “During the war, the mails were brought for free from the front to home. It could not have been differently, because probably the postage stamps would have been the last item the halting logistic support would have delivered to the front. Even so, postcards and envelopes were shortages. The soldiers’ genius has thus created, right in the first months of the war, the format that was a letter and its own envelope in one. The folding process is very similar to how we, in our childhood, folded our soldier’s shako, knowing nothing about the triangular soldier’s letters.” Click through to see some of these elegant folded letters from WWII, and be sure to check out Poemas del río Wang for more. … Read More

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Rudolph Herzog Jokes About Nazis

“Trotsky, Lenin, and Litvinov are walking through a small Russian town, and the children on the street shout, ‘We know who you are, we know who you are.’ Trotsky turns proudly to his companions and says, ‘You see how famous we are. Even kids recognize us.’ Whereupon the children run away, shouting, ‘You’re Jews, you’re Jews.’”

Rudolph Herzog’s new book, Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany, is out now, and if you were wondering, yes, he is indeed the son of Werner, the actor/director/subject of numerous internet parodies such as this one. His father refers to himself in the second person in his own bio and describes his upbringing as such: “He grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria and never saw any films, television, or telephones as a child.” As for Rudolph, he had a much more modern childhood growing up in Munich in the 1970s — though this was arguably yet another tumultuous decade for German politics all the same. The stern German author and I spoke over the phone and e-mailed about his youth, Teutonic jokes, and the hazards of writing with levity during what has been referred to as “a humorless age.” … Read More

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Architecture Drama: Dresden Military History Museum

Identity politics, architectural decorum, Neo-Nazis, and a bleak recent history: building a military history museum in Germany is just as complicated as you might expect. American architect Daniel Libeskind — most well-known for his Jewish Museum in Berlin — has designed a modified shell for an old arsenal building overlooking the city of Dresden, a town almost entirely decimated by Allied forces in 1945 at the end of World War II. George Packer covered the brouhaha in a recent issue of the New Yorker, and Libeskind has been defending his design to press in days surrounding the 65th anniversary of the Dresden bombing on February 13. Examine the issue and check out the project’s design after the… Read More

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