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Internet History: Google Earth's WWII aerial images

  • @matildbattersby

Aerial photographs of European cities during World War II have been made available on Google Earth, giving internet users a real glimpse of the smashed-up landscape of war.

Taken between 1935 and 1945, the snaps record a series of chilling views: Warsaw’s ghetto and bombed-out old town; the decimated Renaissance bridge in Florence; and bomb craters in Berlin.

The Royal Air Force and United States Air Force took the photographs, primarily for reconnaissance but also for post-bombing damage assessment, and the images were then stitched together by hand and kept as a record of the devastation.

Images of the 39 cities can now be compared with modern day Google Earth pictures, charting what a spokesperson for the Historic Centre of Warsaw described as “a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to th 20th Century”.

“[The images] remind us all of the devastating impact of war on the people in those cities and also the remarkable way in which urban environments are reconstructed and regenerated over time,” remarked Ed Parsons, Google’s geospatial technologist.

You can access the images by downloading Google Earth. Or you can look at a selection of stills of the cities with accompanying modern day images by clicking on the image or the link below.

Click here or on the image to view