47 of the most haunting photos from history

Last updated on April 3rd, 2024 at 09:11 pm

History is more than just innovations and triumphs. In truth, much of it involves numerous instances of brutality, warfare, and other unsettling, regrettable realities.

Take a look below at some of the most haunting moments from history.

The two siblings shown here are experiencing the thrill of an electrical storm at Sequoia National Park in California around 1975. Shortly after this picture was taken, they were struck by lightning. Both survived.

Joseph Goebbels glares at Jewish photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1933.

Anne Frank’s father Otto, revists the attic where he and his family hid.

Che Guevara’s last moments. Bolivia, 9 October 1967. 

Replica dog tags of every soldier who never made it back from Vietnam.

People on display at the Coney Island Human Zoo in 1904.

A father looks for his two missing sons during the Kosovo war in 1999. He would later find them.

The survivors the 1972 Andes plane crash.

The last photo ever of Nikola Tesla, 1943

Segregationists harass 6 year old Ruby Bridges with a doll in a coffin.

Windows on the World, the restaurant on top of the WTC North Center, 1976.

Shells from an Allied bombardment all fired in a single day on German lines in 1916

Women and girls using Radium paint, not knowing the health issues that would soon follow. 1922.

The Gadget, the first atomic bomb, 1945

Temporary NYPD headquarters at a Burger King, September 11, 2001.

Leftist woman handing out anti-shah manifesto. Tehran, Iran, 1979.

Pyramid of WWI German helmets in New York, 1919.

Austro-Hungarian trench raiders near Caporetto, 1917.

A young shrimp picker named Manuel, 1912. Photo by Lewis Hines

Kids work in a factory. Photo by Lewis Hines.

The Imprint of a Mitsubishi kamikaze Zero along the side of H.M.S Sussex. 1945.

Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic from Nirvana at Kurt Cobain’s funeral. Seattle, Washington (1994) 

The temporary grave of Theodore Roosevelt Jr. in Normandy, July 1944.

Coal miner waiting to get into the communal shower at the end of his shift, taken in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1958. by photographer Max Scheler.

Russian inmate identifies a cruel camp guard at Buchenwald.

JFK’s funeral at the capitol. November 1963.

“The Thousand Yard Stare”—USMC Private Theodore J. Miller is helped aboard a ship after intense combat on Eniwetok Atoll. Miller was KIA a month later, 1944.

British infantryman in 1941 with a long WWI-style bayonet affixed to his rifle 

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family, 1913

Anne Frank, with her sister Margot at Zandvoort Beach, 1940. 

Earliest known photo of Chernobyl disaster, taken by powerplant’s photographer, dawn of April 26th, 1986

Indian Soldiers arriving in France, World War I, 1914

A young private waits on the beach during the Marine landing at Da Nang, 1965.

Little John F. Kennedy Jr. waiting for his Dad, President John F. Kennedy to land at Camp David, Maryland in October 1963. 

A firefighter looks towards the heavily damaged Belgrade’s tallest building, NATO bombing, April 1999

Boy standing in front of fallen statue of Lenin, Ethiopia, 1991

The lost girl, 1874 Blanche Monnier was a Parisian socialite, known for her beauty. In France, she is referred to as “La Séquestrée de Poitiers” which means “The Confined Woman of Poitiers”.

John List takes a family portrait.

This is a photo of a British veteran of the Napoleonic wars posing with his wife. He can be seen wearing a campaign medal, commemorating the fact that he served in Spain.

Freddie Mercury said to Mary Austin in his will: “If things had been different you would have been my wife, and this would have been yours anyway.” (1984)

The last photo of The Dyatlov Pass Victims

A newly liberated women from the Bergen-Belsen camp is dusted with DDT powder to treat lice which spreads typhus in 1945. Photograph by Sgt. Hewitt, No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit.

Throughout the USS Triton’s secret mission to circumnavigate the world submerged, the only unauthorized individual to spot the submarine during those sixty days was a Filipino man on his canoe, who noticed its periscope. April 1, 1960.

Kurt Cobain cries after an emotional set.

A photo of Joe Arridy giving his toy train to another inmate before he’s taken to the gas chamber for a crime he never committed.

Taken at the Michigan Carbon Works factory in Rougeville, the pile of bison skulls in this photo was slated to be processed and used in making products like bone glue, fertilizer, bone ash, bone char, and bone charcoal.

This photo of Heath Ledger is from his last film ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,’ a few days before his passing.

The elephant’s foot of Chernobyl

4 Children for Sale

In 1925, a man flying from Casablanca to Dakar photographed a Barbary Lion in the Atlas Mountains. This photo is special because it’s the last known picture of a wild Barbary Lion before they went extinct.

Captured 16-year-old German anti-aircraft soldier during WW2, 1945

1929 – Boarding of British Airship R101 – This would likely be the Airships last voyage as it crashed shortly after in France. 

WW1 photo of German friends in a trench bunker. Photos on the wall and one being a photo of a woman.

An American serviceman shares his rations with two Japanese children on the island of Okinawa, 1945

Men waiting in line for the possibility of a job during the Great Depression

6-year old Jewel Walker picks 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day (1916)

Christmas dinner, 1936. Dinner consisted of potatoes, cabbage, and pie.

General Sherman overlooking Atlanta, 1864.

Lady and her horse on a snowy day in 1899.

Mother and daughter watch a tall ship navigate the Thames in London, 1880.

Old woman smoking a pipe on her porch, Appalachia Mountains, 1917.

Three young girls working as oyster shuckers. Port Royal, South Carolina, USA. 1909. Photograph by Lewis Hine.

A ghostly yet mesmerizing image from 1900.

Rainy nights in London, 1899.

Frozen Niagara Falls, 1911.

5-year-old Harold Walker picks 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day, Oklahoma, 1916.

Part of the infamous crime-ridden slum in New York City known as the Five Points. Photo by Jacob Riis, 1872.

One of the oldest people to have been photographed in 1840-1850.

A cult-like, early meeting of the Mickey Mouse Club

A tent belonging to the missing campers of the Dyatlov pass

A boy is treated for a bite from a Russell’s viper as his father watches on

Terrifying Santa Claus.

Gas Masks for babies.

Inside a train in the 1800s.

A sharecropper and his wife in Missisipspi, 1937.

Josephine Smith digging a grave at the Drouin Cemetery during World War II

A photo of the bomb over Nagasaki mid-explosion

Family in front of their log house 1880’s.

28 students of a one-room school, Missouri, 1939.

A coal miner and his family, West Virginia, 1938.

Welsh woman washing her mine-working husband, 1931.

Two Boys in London, 1902.

Poor mother and children, Finland 1917.

Deadwood, South Dakota, circa. 1877.

The Endurance ship being stuck in the Antarctic ice (forever), 1915.

Two brothers from West Virginia who fought on opposite sides of the American Civil War in 1910

Photo of a Soviet war veteran near the Eternal Flame on the anniversary of Victory Day, 1966.

Zen monks at Asakusa Temple, in Tokyo, perform air raid drills with gas masks in 1936

Sharon Tate showing off the baby clothing she had bought in London, UK in 1969.

One of only 2 photographs ever taken of US president Andrew Jackson. 1845

A wedding during the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut, Lebanon, 1986.

A female Afghan communist revolutionary during the Saur Revolution, 1978

Departure of a Red Cross train going to Switzerland, Budapest, Hungary, 1947

Billboard swearing Manhattan Project workers to secrecy, 1945.

The first wave of Marine landing craft head towards the beaches of Iwo Jima. 08:59, 19 February 1945.

Two German Soldiers in 1916

Massive column of thousands of German prisoners of war marching down the Autobahn 

Shoe shine boys talking to a Civil War Veteran, 1920s.

Shoichi Yokoi, the Japanese soldier who hid in the jungle in Guam for 27 years to avoid capture, weeps upon his return to Japan in February 1972.

A Zulu tribesman pulls a tourist in a pedicab in Durban, Union of South Africa. Photo by Melville Chater, 1930’s

Northern Ireland, The Bogside, Londonderry 1971. Photo by Don McCullin

French civilians erected this memorial to an American soldier in Carentan, France, in 1944.

Barricade constructed by revolutionaries of the Paris commune, 1871.

Gavrilo Princip’s parents in front of their house, Bosnia, 1910s/1920s

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