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Friday, October 19, 2012

Ghosts Of World War II

The Ghosts of World War II: The photographs found at flea markets superimposed on to modern street scenes

  • Images depict almost transparent soldiers racing through our streets as they look today
  • Fascinating series shows contrast between wartorn cities in the 1930s and 1940s and pleasant neighbourhoods now
By Emma Reynolds
This haunting collection of images shows what it would look like if the ghosts of World War II returned to our streets.
The remarkable pictures overlay modern scenes from France with atmospheric photographs taken in the same place during the war.
Historical expert Jo Teeuwisse, from Amsterdam, began the project after finding 300 old negatives at a flea market in her home city depicting familiar places in a very different context.
Dangerous crossing: Soldiers race up Avenue de Paris in Cherbourg in 1944, speeding past the rubble and over modern-day road markings
Dangerous crossing: Soldiers race up Avenue de Paris in Cherbourg in 1944, speeding past the rubble and over modern-day road markings
Fear and fighting: The original image from 1944, before it was laid over a photo taken from the exact same spot today
Fear and fighting: The original image from 1944, before it was laid over a photo taken from the exact same spot today
Startling contrast: Dutch historian Jo Teeuwisse finds pictures from archives and then researches their background, before taking a picture in the same place now and elegantly interweaving them
Startling contrast: Dutch historian Jo Teeuwisse finds pictures from archives and then researches their background, before taking a picture in the same place now and elegantly interweaving them
Vivid reality: The past and the present collide as touches of colour appear on this emotive shot on rue Armand Levéel in the French city of Cherbourg
Vivid reality: The past and the present collide as touches of colour appear on this emotive shot on rue Armand Levéel in the French city of Cherbourg
She researched the background to each of the most interesting finds and created a beautiful series of pictures by super-imposing the old pictures on top of new ones.
Now she has rediscovered photographs of soldiers at war in France and across Europe and put together further sets of evocative and emotional designs.
Miss Teeuwisse believes that making war scenes familiar by linking them to somewhere we recognise heightens their impact.
'I knew what happened there, but knowing the exact spot of some detail will etch it into your visual memory,' she said.
From dark times to blue skies: German prisoners of war are marched through the north-western French city by American soldiers
From dark times to blue skies: German prisoners of war are marched through the north-western French city by American soldiers
Marching on: Allied soldiers are seen on the move past shops from then and now in these fascinating pictures of France from the Left Behind series
Marching on: Allied soldiers are seen on the move past shops from then and now in these fascinating pictures of France from the Left Behind series
Changing environment: German soldiers surrendering beside the modern terraced houses of the Rue des Fossés Plissons in Domfront, Orne
Changing environment: German soldiers surrendering beside the modern terraced houses of the Rue des Fossés Plissons in Domfront, Orne
Honouring the dead: Village behind the front lines in Normandy celebrate Bastille Day for the first time in over four years at a memorial that still stands today
Honouring the dead: Village behind the front lines in Normandy celebrate Bastille Day for the first time in over four years at a memorial that still stands today
Her work goes much further than the visual, too.
The website of her organisation, Historical Consultancy, reads: 'For years we have been researching daily life before and during the Second World war, not just gathering information but also interviewing eye witnesses and recreating certain aspects of history to gain a unique insight into that era.'
The organisation works with authors, film and TV companies, museums, schools, documentary makers, designers, theatre productions and many more.
It has helped individuals trying to find out more about their family history, carrying out close research into any events from between 1900 and 1950.
Moving moment: Servicemen rest beside signs pointing the way to a hospital and a church, with more old-fashioned script just visible behind
Moving moment: Servicemen rest beside signs pointing the way to a hospital and a church, with more old-fashioned script just visible behind
Echoes of history: The tarmacked road of Saint Marcouf, Manche, was once piled high with debris
Echoes of history: The tarmacked road of Saint Marcouf, Manche, was once piled high with debris
Dramatic past: Men in uniform file out of La Madeleine à Sainte Marie du Mont, in Manche, close to the beaches of Normandy where the D-Day invasion took place
Dramatic past: Men in uniform file out of La Madeleine à Sainte Marie du Mont, in Manche, close to the beaches of Normandy where the D-Day invasion took place
Horrific sight: A dead German soldier lies sprawled in the street with smooth patches showing through where the area has been restored today
Horrific sight: A dead German soldier lies sprawled in the street with smooth patches showing through where the area has been restored today
Miss Teeuwisse says she began the project as a research tool, but now continues it mostly because of her 'passion for history and fascination with the subject.'
A selection of her photos created across Europe, from Rotterdam to Utrecht to Sicily are available to view on her Flickr site and on Facebook.
The emotional photos juxtapose wartorn paths piled high with rubble with newly painted signposts and tarmacked roads.
Pretty houses and fashionable shops have been built where the dead once lay and German soldiers clashed with Allied troops.
In these poignant shots, however, we have a tiny window into that world.
Historical colour: A sign reading Todt Organisation - a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany - is pictured over a pretty orange and pink house
Historical colour: A sign reading Todt Organisation - a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany - is pictured over a pretty orange and pink house
New world: An American flag speaks of Allied progress in this engrossing image from the streets of France
New world: An American flag speaks of Allied progress in this engrossing image from the streets of France

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