39 Rare Historical Photos That Will Blow Your Mind
1.775 confirmed kills in one picture, 1945
Description - Female snipers of the 3rd Shock Army, 1st Belorussian Front. The ‘Shock’ armies were created with the specific structure to engage and destroy significant enemy forces, and were reinforced with more armored and artillery assets than other combined arms armies. Where necessary the Shock armies were reinforced with mechanized, tank and cavalry formations and units.
2.A Jewish woman who is concealing her face sits on a park bench marked Only for Jews, Austria, 1938
Description - The Holocaust was a gradual process. The Nazis didn’t start mass extermination when they got into power. But gradually prepared the population by dehumanizing the Jewish people. Segregation, as shown in this photo, was part of this. The point was not to provide a bench for Jews, it was to segregate the benches so that non-Jewish Germans would not have to sit on a “contaminated” bench. Being treated like below human life for years before hand was terrifying and probably emotionally exhausting.
3.Acrobats balance on top of the Empire State Building, 1934
Description - Acrobats Jarley Smith, Jewell Waddek, and Jimmy Kerrigan perform a balancing act on a ledge of the Empire State Building in Manhattan on August 21, 1934. Watch a local video clip of the three performers setting up the human sculpture.
4.Actress Marlene Dietrich kisses a soldier returning home from war, 1945
Description - This photo shows Marlene Dietrich passionately kissing an American soldier as he arrives home from World War II. It seems that the guy on the left holding her up is enjoying the view. It was first published in Life Magazine with the caption: “While soldiers hold her up by her famous legs, Marlene Dietrich is kissed by a home-coming GI”.
The ship was the Monticello, a converted cruise liner. Her original name was SS Conte Grande and was built in 1927 in Trieste, Italy. During World War II, she was acquired by the United States and was used as an American troopship—renamed USS Monticello (AP-61) in 1942. At the time the photo was taken it was transporting parts of the 2nd infantry division home.
5.Australian Aborigines in chains at Wyndham prison, 1902
Description - This picture is taken in the early 1900s at the Wyndham prison. Wyndam is the oldest and northernmost town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It was established in 1886 as a result of a gold rush at Halls Creek. However the circumstances and the story behind this picture remain unknown. The Aboriginals could have been arrested under the various local laws passed that forbid them from entering or being within a certain distance of named towns. They could also have been arrested for drinking or owning firearms which was illegal for them at various times. It’s also possible that they have been rounded up to be moved to a reserve areas which were being created at the time and that these individuals did not want to move. It could even be a staged picture for tourists/publicity reasons.
6.Berlin in 1945
Description - Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany, was subject to 363 air raids during the Second World War. It was bombed by the RAF Bomber Command between 1940
7. Building Hoover Dam
Description - In the early years of the 20th century, the rapid development of the southwestern United States was creating a high demand for electricity and water. Simultaneously, a series of catastrophic floods made it clear that the Colorado River needed to be dammed and controlled.
8.Father stares at the hand and foot of his five-year-old, severed as a punishment for failing to make the daily rubber quota, Belgian Congo, 1904
Description - He hadn’t made his rubber quota for the day so the Belgian-appointed overseers had cut off his daughter’s hand and foot. Her name was Boali. She was five years old. Then they killed her. But they weren’t finished. Then they killed his wife too. And because that didn’t seem quite cruel enough, quite strong enough to make their case, they cannibalized both Boali and her mother. And they presented Nsala with the tokens, the leftovers from the once living body of his darling child whom he so loved.
9.Bombing of Dresden in World War II
Description - Dresden, 1945, view from the city hall (Rathaus) over the destroyed city. Early in 1945, the German offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge had been exhausted, as was the disastrous attack by the Luftwaffe on New Year's Day involving elements of eleven combat wings of the Luftwaffe's day fighter force. The Red Army had launched their Silesian Offensives into pre-war German territory. The German army was retreating on all fronts, but still resisting strongly. On 8 February 1945, the Red Army crossed the Oder River, with positions just 70 km from Berlin
10.Elephant Mounted machine Gun, 1914
Description - An American corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan elephant. The reason why the corporal is atop the elephant is a mystery but elephants were never a weapons platform adopted by the US Army. It’s probably a publicity picture, not something the army would actually try to employ. The elephant would not respond well to the sound of that machine gun a few inches from his ears.
11.Federal ironclad USS Galena showing some battle damage, 1862
Description - It’s amazing that this broadside ironclad was designed and built without the aid of computers. Someone put pen to paper and designed this. Then the parts were made by hand in some fashion or another. USS Galena was a wooden-hulled broadside ironclad built for the United States Navy during the American Civil War. The ship was initially assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and supported Union forces during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. She was damaged during the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff because her armor was too thin to prevent Confederate shots from penetrating.
12.A unknown man during the Great Depression, 1932
Description - In 1932-1933, at the worst point in the Great Depression years, unemployment rates in the United States reached almost 25%, with more than 11 million people looking for work. Farmers who had lost their land and homes to foreclosure as a result of the Dust Bowl made up a large part of the idle workforce. “Hoovervilles” (named after Herbert Hoover, the American president many blamed for the Great Depression) and shantytowns sprung up all across America, areas in which people gathered and constructed makeshift homes out of boxes, packing crates, abandoned cars, and scraps of wood.
13.Hitler at the Outbreak of World War I in Munich, 1914
Description - Adolf Hitler in a crowd, Munich, 2 August 1914.' ?Adolf Hitler among the huge crowd which heard the announcement of war outside Field Marshals' Hall, Munich on 2 August 1914'. Hitler in the crowd listening to the announcement of the start of the First World War
14.HMS Invincible returns home following the Falklands Conflict, 1982
Description - HMS Invincible was launched on 3 May 1977 as the seventh ship to carry the name. She saw action in the Falklands War when she was deployed with HMS Hermes and took over as flagship of the British fleet when Hermes was sold to India.
15.Adolf Hitler With Helga Goebbels, His Favorite Little Girl, Show Another Side of the Fuhrer
Description - Helga was the oldest of Goebbels’ six children and she was always said to be Hitler’s favorite little girl.
Kathe Hubner, who worked for the Goebbels family for the last two years of the Second World War, refuses to comment on this, saying only that it is a question which journalists have always pestered her with – she always refused to answer their questions – and that Hitler was friendly to all children.
16.Internment of Japanese Americans in World War II
Description - In a brick wall beside an air raid shelter poster, exclusion orders were posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco, California, directing the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first part of San Francisco to be affected by the evacuation. The order was issued April 1, 1942, by Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, and directed evacuation from this section by noon on April 7, 1942
Description - Between 1928 and 1932, two enormous wooden ships, which once belonged to the Emperor Caligula, and had lain on the bottom of the Lake Nemi for over nineteen hundred years, were salvaged in what was perhaps the greatest underwater archaeological recovery ever accomplished. The larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace, which contained quantities of marble, mosaic floors, heating and plumbing such as baths among its amenities. Both ships featured technology long thought to be recent inventions. One of the most fascinating aspects of the whole affair was the fact that knowledge of the two huge vessels being in the lake had never been lost throughout the ages, from the reign of Caligula, to the twentieth century
18.Japanese soldiers surrendering to U.S. soldiers, Marshall Islands, 1944
Description - A Japanese soldier surrendering to three US Marines in the Marshall Islands during January 1944. The soldier is naked because he was probably ordered to strip to be sure that there wasn't any weapon or explosive concealed. It was very rare for Japanese soldiers to surrender as it was deemed dishonorable.
19.Job Hunting In The 1930s
Description - Unable to find another job locally, many unemployed people hit the road, traveling from place to place, hoping to find some work. During the Great Depression, millions of people were out of work across the United States
20.A mother and her children wade across a river to escape US bombing, 1965
Description - The American base was under constant attack from Viet Cong snipers, hiding in the surrounding villages. Now the Americans were striking back, at the same time destroying the village. The attack was part of an elaborate clearing operation, whose purpose it was to drive the Vietcong members out of the coastal area in South Vietnam. The assault was named Operation Piranha after the dangerous South American fish. lt employed more than 5,000 troops. In each village that was believed to shelter Vietcong guerillas. Women and children were advised to leave before the attack would commence. The Communists fighters often used women and children as a screen for their operations.
21.Murderous Mary, the elephant that was hanged for murder, 1916
Description - Mary was a five-ton Asian elephant, also known as Murderous Mary, who performed in the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. After killing a trainer in Kingsport, Tennessee, she was hanged in 1916. Her death is sometimes interpreted as a cautionary tale of circus animal abuse during the early 20th century.
On September 12, 1916, a hobo named Walter Eldridge, nicknamed Red because of his rusty-colored hair, was hired as an assistant elephant trainer by the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. A drifter who had been with the circus only a day, he had no experience of handling elephants, but the only qualification required was the ability to wield an ‘elephant stick’ — a rod with a sharp spear at one end. Eldridge led the elephant parade riding on the top of Mary’s back; Mary was the star of the show, riding at the front.
22.Niagara Falls without water, 1969
Description - For six months in the summer and fall of 1969, Niagara’s American Falls were “de-watered”, as the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a geological survey of the falls’ rock face, concerned that it was becoming destabilized by erosion. These stark images reveal North America’s iconic – and most powerful – waterfall to be almost as dry as a desert.
23.Prague Spring begins in Czechoslovakia - Jan 05, 1968
Description - On August 20, 1968, the Soviet Union answered Dubcek’s reforms with invasion of Czechoslovakia by 600,000 Warsaw Pact troops. Prague was not eager to give way, but scattered student resistance was no match for Soviet tanks. Dubcek’s reforms were repealed, and the leader himself was replaced with the staunchly pro-Soviet Gustav Husak, who re-established an authoritarian Communist regime in the country.
24.Women being arrested for wearing one piece bathing suits, 1920s
Description - Dressed in what would look to us like very conservative swimwear today, the women were being arrested for defying a ban on wearing their ‘brief swimsuits’ in public. In the early 1900s, modesty laws were very strict and required most women to wear long one piece garments as well as stockings.
25.Pyramid of captured German helmets, New York, 1918
Description - Giant Pyramid of Captured German Helmets from WWI Grand Central Terminal, New York, 1918. View of the employees of the New York Central Railroad, assembled in Victory Way, showing the pyramid of captured German helmets, with Grand Central Terminal in the background. Two cannons are shown at the left and right.
26.American Indians and the Transcontinental Railroad
Description - In this photograph by Alfred Hart taken between 1865 – 1869, a Native American looks down upon a newly completed section of the Transcontinental Railroad, 435 miles from Sacramento, California. The stark composition of both man and progress facing a distant haze conveys emotions as complex as the cultural impact behind America’s westward expansion. The railroad was a massive undertaking, with three companies building the 3,069 km (1,907 mi) line over six years. With the final “Golden Spike” driven into the ground in May 10, 1869, the revolution in transportation allowed a flood of people and goods to travel directly from Council Bluffs, Iowa all the way to Sacramento, California.
27.Red Army soldiers in a trench as a Soviet T-34 tank passes over them, 1943
Description - Red Army soldiers in a trench as a Russian T-34 tank passes over them in 1943, during the Battle of Kursk.
28.The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
Description - The California earthquake of April 18, 1906 ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes of all time. Today, its importance comes more from the wealth of scientific knowledge derived from it than from its sheer size. Rupturing the northernmost 296 miles (477 kilometers) of the San Andreas fault from northwest of San Juan Bautista to the triple junction at Cape Mendocino, the earthquake confounded contemporary geologists with its large, horizontal displacements and great rupture length. Indeed, the significance of the fault and recognition of its large cumulative offset would not be fully appreciated until the advent of plate tectonics more than half a century later. Analysis of the 1906 displacements and strain in the surrounding crust led Reid (1910) to formulate his elastic-rebound theory of the earthquake source, which remains today the principal model of the earthquake cycle
29.Saundra Brown, the first black woman on the Oakland police force, gets instructions on how to shoot a shotgun, 1970
Description - Born in Oakland, California, Saundra Brown Armstrong received an A.A. from Merritt College in 1967 and a B.A. from California State University, Fresno in 1969. She was a police officer in the Oakland Police Department from 1970 to 1977. She then received a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1977. She was a Judicial extern, California Court of Appeals in 1977, and was a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California from 1978 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1982. From 1979 to 1980, she was a senior consultant to the California Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice.
30.Searchlights on the Rock of Gibraltar, 1942
Description - The searchlights in this photo aren’t intended for the use of the crews running the lights. Their purpose is helping the anti-aircraft gunners spot incoming bombers. And the anti-aircraft gunners aren’t located at the lights. The glare from light reflecting off the fog doesn’t impact them as much, the benefit of the light in spotting bombers is greater than the harm of reduced visibility from glare.
31.Slave shackle being removed by British sailor, 1907
Description - Back in October of 1907 the sailors of the HMS Sphinx noticed some people in a canoe that had escaped a slave trading village in an attempt to get to their ship. The sailors took them in, removed their shackles and made them feel right at home.
32.SS Morro Castle burnt and shipwrecked off the coast of New Jersey, 1934
Description - The SS Morro Castle, named after a fortress that guards Havana Bay, was a luxury cruise ship of the 1930s that was built for the Ward Line for runs between New York City and Havana. On the morning of September 8, 1934, en route from Havana to New York, the ship caught fire and burned, killing 137 passengers and crew members.
33.Moving a 7,600 ton apartment building to create a boulevard in a Romanian town, 1987
Description - Ceausescu, the communist leader of Romania, liked to change streets. He would literally go through cities, decide that this building or that shouldn’t be there (he really didn’t like churches, for instance), and either ordered it demolished, or moved.
34.The Man Who Didn't Salute Hitler
Description - Landmasser fell in love with a Jewish woman who, before they could marry, was sent to a concentration camp.Protesting his prison sentence for getting engaged a Jewish woman, August Landmesser is remembered as the man who didn't salute Hitler.
35.Troops of the Eight nations alliance 1900
Description - Troops of the Eight nations alliance of 1900 in China. Left to right: Britain, United States, Australia (British Empire colony at this time), India (British Empire colony at this time), Germany (German Empire at this time), France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Japan. Français : Troupes de l'Alliance des huit nations de 1900 en Chine. De gauche à droite : Grande-Bretagne, États-Unis, Australie (alors colonie de l'Empire britannique), Inde (alors colonie de l'Empire britannique), Allemagne (Empire allemand à cette époque), France, Autriche-Hongrie, Italie, Japon. Deutsch: Soldaten der Vereinigten acht Staaten 1910 in China. Von links nach rechts: britischer Artillerist, amerikanischer Kavallerist, australischer Freiwilliger, indischer Wachtmeister, deutscher Gefreiter, französischer Marineinfanterist, österreichischer Maat, italienischer Bersaglieri, japanischer Infanterist.
36.U-118, a World War One submarine washed ashore on the beach at Hastings, England
Description - SM U-118 was a type UE II mine laying submarine of the Imperial German Navy and one of 329 submarines serving with that navy during World War I. U-118 engaged in naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic.
37.Unboxing the Statue of Liberty, 1885
Description - Unpacking of the head of the Statue of Liberty, which was delivered on June 17, 1885.
38."Wait for me, Daddy", 1940
Description - Wait for Me, Daddy is a photo taken by Claude P. Dettloff on October 1, 1940, of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles) marching down Eighth Street at the Columbia Street intersection, New Westminster, Canada. While Dettloff was taking the photo, Warren "Whitey" Bernard ran away from his mother to his father, Private Jack Bernard. The picture received extensive exposure and was used in war-bond drives
39.Wearing Bikini Ticket
Description - In this photo from 1957 that shows a police officer in Italy standing next to a woman wearing a bikini.The officer is apparently writing her a ticket while showing a small smirk on his face. Since this was the 1950s, it was offensive to wear a bikini in a public place like a beach. This particular incident happened to be at a beach in Rimini, which is located in the Adriatic coastal area of Italy.