Photos that bring WW2’s nightmarish eastern front to life

The Second World War was filled with well-known historical moments, from the Battle of Britain to the bombing of Hiroshima. But one theatre of war that often remains overshadowed is the Eastern Front – a brutal and extended campaign between Germany and the Soviet Union.

As the two superpowers clashed across thousands of miles, millions of lives were lost. Many photographers risked their lives documenting these momentous events, allowing future generations to gain insight into this tumultuous historical period.

Let’s look at some iconic photos from WW2’s Eastern Front – each one offering us a powerful glimpse into world-changing events that shaped our world.

“In this small town, Zhizdra, after the fights, I did not find anyone alive except this wounded cat” – Eastern Front, 1943

“Kombat.” A Soviet political commissar leads soldiers in an assault, Eastern Front, in Soviet Ukraine, 12 July 1942. The subject lost his life moments after the photo was taken.

A German soldier rides a motorcycle with a gas mask and heavy-duty winter gear, 1943.

A German paratrooper carries a wounded sergeant, 1942.

Female Soviet Sniper trains a Partisan

Night attack during the liberation of Odessa.

A Red Army soldier fires from a bathtub during the Battle of Stalingrad, 1942

Soviet civilians attempt to get water during the siege of Leningrad, 1942.

A German Machine in Stalingrad, October 1942

A Russian boy points out German positions outside Leningrad, August 1943.

Two teen girls assemble submachine guns during the siege of Leningrad, 1943

Soviet soldiers, on their backs, shoot at enemy aircraft, June 1943.

German soldiers return from close quarter combat, Ukraine, 1943.

German mountaineers rest in the snow in the Caucasus, December 1942.

An injured young Soviet soldier crawls toward his German captors after surrendering. Battle of Kursk, July 1943.

Finnish Army soldiers interrogating a Soviet sniper, August 1941

German soldiers cross into the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, June 22, 1941.

Germans signal troops capture Soviet soldiers, 1942

A Soviet soldier returns home to his burned down home, Dedilovo, 1942

Reindeer in Murmansk, Soviet Union, 1941.

Three Soviet partisans, 1942.

A captured Soviet commissar speaks to his encircled comrades through a loudspeaker, 1941.

Partisan girl, 1942 Photo by Arkady Shaikhet.

Soviet soldiers in Stalingrad’s trenches, Deceember 1942.

German soldiers covered in ice and snow on the Eastern front, 1944.

Street fighting during the Battle of Berlin, 1945.

German POWs after the defeat of the German Army at Stalingrad, February 1943.

Russian snipers fighting during a Blizzard near Leningrad, 1943.

German soldiers in the Kharkov area, May 1942.

Soviet fighters over Berlin, April 1945. Photo by Mark Redkin

If you enjoyed these photos, check out our color photo series on World War Two.

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