Historical Society Exhibiting World War II Photos
The Virginia Historical Society will open a new exhibition on Saturday featuring many unique photographs from World War II.
Memories of World War II: Photographs from the Archives of The Associated Press includes 126 black and white prints, scenes from every theater of the war.
Levengood: Some of which you will have seen many times, some of which will be new to you, but are all incredibly insightful, and many of them very poignant photographs of World War II.
Paul Levengood is President and CEO of the Historical Society.
Levengood: These were the pictures that appeared in everyone’s hometown paper and have appeared in books and documentaries ever since. I can’t imagine how they actually went through their collections of hundreds of thousands of World War II photographs and picked the ones to go in this show, but they tried to combine I think the dozen or so that everyone would know with ones they haven’t seen.
The pictures, Levengood added, evoke powerful emotions about the achievements and sacrifice of Americans more than 70 years ago. These images, he said, speak for The Greatest Generation.
Levengood: I think history, but especially 20th century history, is a great opportunity for families to begin conversations about their own past and, you know we hear a lot about the Greatest Generation slipping away and that may be true. However, I think there are plenty of people who maybe came of age, were children during World War II, who now have grandkids, great-grandkids, and I think it would really be incredibly beneficial to those children to come with their members of their family who can talk about rationing during the war and can talk about the all out war effort that led to the launching of ships like the New Jersey shown here in this picture. The all out effort on the home front that was involved because I think until you see it and hear about it, it’s hard to imagine just what it took for this nation to fight the war.
Levengood will lead a walking tour of the exhibit on Wednesday the 26th. As the exhibition was being installed, he pointed out some of the photos that he found especially poignant.
Levengood: This photograph, which I think was clearly taken for German domestic consumption, for the German populace to see, and yet of course, obviously the one it captures here is sort of a smiling Hitler and his row of Wehrmacht officers and Luftwaffer officers and then these civilians who are crying and can’t even look at the Germans, they’re looking away. This woman who’s obviously tearing and looking in the distance, even the children are looking away.
Another showed rows of school children.
Levengood: These children in Berlin in gas masks in 1939. This is right before the invasion of Poland, and it occurred to me, that the German government not only had the lessons learned from World War I, but you think about it, they knew what they were prepared to do to people in lands that they were attacking, so you can imagine the preparations they thought might be necessary in the fatherland.
There are pictures of Roosevelt and Churchill, the fall of France, the Blitz, the attack on Pearl Harbor, McArthur wading ashore on his return to the Philippines, and the surrenders of Germany and Japan, as well as ordinary people on the home front enduring the Second World War.
Levengood: Sixteen million Americans served in the armed forces, men and women, there was this sense of shared commitment and sacrifice that has not been experienced in a war since.
John Ogle, WCVE News