Colorful photographs of World War II shed new light on the war

Colorful photographs of World War II shed new light on the war

Color film was rare in World War II. The vast majority of the photos taken during the conflict were black and white, and color photography as a whole is still a relatively new technique.

It is this fact that makes the pictures published by the British Imperial War museums so intriguing. They are in their original condition – not revised or tinted: “You see exactly what was taken. I know it’s common these days to see revised images and color pictures in black and white, but this is the real deal,” said Ian Carter, author of a museum book they published , During a telephone interview.

The pictures commissioned by the British Ministry of Information, which received a very small amount of the Kodachrome film. Then they decided to use it experimentally, by giving it to some official photographers who took it to several locations and used it very sparingly.

Only about 3,000 photos were taken, but not everything was spared: “Almost half of them are lost and we don’t know where they went,” Carter said. The rest of the photos became part of the museum archive in 1949, and some are being published for the first time in 70 years.

Dutch civilians danced in the streets after Eindhoven liberated by Allied forces, September 1944. credit: © IWM

The photos were commissioned for publication in American magazines, which were printed in color, but not all of them could be published during the war.

It is not entirely clear how the film was dedicated to photographers, but it is likely that they are taken as “private” shots alongside regular black and white cameras: “They have a very limited amount of the film and they should be very careful, so they should have said Carter:” They’ve been filmed The film is in a separate camera and I used it to take two pictures while taking black and white shots. “

Some surprising details that will be lost in gray suddenly, such as the orange accents – the color of the Dutch royal family – appear in an editing scene in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

The nurses and convalescent staff at the Princess Mary Hospital of the Royal Air Force in Halton in Buckinghamshire, August 1943. The hospital opened in 1927 and treated about 20,000 RAF victims during the war. credit: © IWM

World War II photographs or color shots have been around for some time, but these pictures really show the world what people could have seen at the time: “When you see it, it almost looks like it was taken yesterday or reenacted,” Carter said.

“It still seems a little strange to see color photography from World War II. It still has the potential to shock.”

“World War Two in color” Published by Imperial War Museums (IWM).

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