About

Welcome to my blog. I hope you find it moderately interesting! The theme is pre-war Europe, mostly villages, towns, cities and individual buildings as they were before 1945.

There are thousands of photographs of Europe prior to 1945 but stereographic images are slightly different. When converted into an animated gif they can hint at a life beyond the two dimensions of conventional photography and give a small idea of what it might’ve been like to be there at the time. Buildings, streets and people can suddenly become ‘real’ to the viewer rather than being merely a distant recording of something from long ago. The First and Second World Wars were so profoundly destructive that in many instances photographs are the only reminder of scenes that have disappeared in their entirety. It makes such stereoscopic photographs, or stereoviews, of great importance.

There is a predominant focus on Germany before the Second World War. This is for a number of reasons. There are a high number of relatively easily-available stereoviews of pre-war Germany, especially in comparison to pre-war Poland or other Eastern European countries. Germany also had the richest architectural heritage of any European country north of the Alps and every architectural style was present almost to excess. For example, places like Hildesheim, Frankfurt and Nuremberg had preserved medieval centres of timber-framed buildings on a scale unparalleled in Europe. Dresden and Würzburg were Baroque cities equalled only be those of Italy, etc. Germany was at the centre of the North European Renaissance and this was reflected in much of its architecture.

Finally it could be argued that by the close of the war Germany was physically ruined to a greater extent than any other European country. That said, and the focus on Germany is in no way meant to detract from the crimes committed by the Nazi regime both before and during World War Two nor is it designed to reignite the debate over the Allies’ strategic bombing campaign, which still remains a subject of great controversy.

It must be remembered that the Germans had their own bombing campaign too, as in 1940 when they reduced the beautiful city of Rotterdam to rubble, to name but one example out of many, and then proceeded to loot as much European art as they could get their hands on. And the Nazis showed almost no respect for the architectural heritage of the countries they occupied: Warsaw was systematically obliterated, the Baedeker Raids were deliberately intended to destroy England’s most historical cities, and the retreating German troops adopted a slash and burn policy when retreating from the remarkable complex of palaces at Peterhof and Tsarkoye Selo in Russia.

As so often throughout history, the cityscapes of Europe were often on the front line, and the loss of so much of Germany’s historical fabric was not only a disaster for Germany but a disaster for Europe as a whole.

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