PortraitsofWar recently acquired a collection of over 200 color slides taken in the mid to late 1950s depicting the rebuilding of Postwar Germany in the Kassel area. The images follow a group of American volunteers who helped rebuild churches in and around the city. They also were charged with feeding and taking care of refugees who were waiting for new homes to be built. Although there is no linear progression to the photos, they nonetheless show a side of European history that has been glossed over. The Marshall Plan brought industry and revitalization to Europe, and also brought American tourists who snapped countless photos of the rebuild process.
Color war photos are one of my favorite forms of amateur photography. The history behind each image is intensified when documented in color, allowing the historian to glean historical details not visible in B/W photography. One such image can be found below, from my collection of images taken in Roswell New Mexico right after WWII. The photos were taken by a member of the 509th Composite Group. The unit was responsible for dealing with the atomic weapons of WWII and also dropped a bomb on the Bikini Atoll in 1946.
The QB-17 shown below is possibly one of the first handful of B-17’s outfitted to fly unmanned. This plane was used to fly through an atomic cloud and collect important radiation data. These data were later used to test for radiation fallout numbers. I’ve only personally seen two other color images of a QB-17 painted in this scheme. What an important resource for historians, hobbyists, and vintage photography collectors!