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Life and Death on the Eastern Front (Hardback)

Rare Colour Photographs From World War II

WWII Greenhill Books Photographic Books Colour Books Military

By Ian Spring, Anthony Tucker-Jones
Greenhill Books
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 260 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781784387235
Published: 30th March 2022


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This incredible visual record of life and death along the Eastern Front draws from the PIXPAST Archive, a collection built by Ian Spring of more than 32,000 original colour photographs taken between 1936 and 1946. Collated into three parts and organised thematically, the book begins with images of the ground war, including Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union and the tanks, vehicles, weaponry and infantry on both sides. Moving into the war in the skies, the images depict aircraft in flight and on the ground, the bombers, fighters, Luftwaffe personnel and the destruction wrought from battle. And finally, the images take us behind the lines, to the prisoners of war, partisans, medics, the daily lives and leisure activities of soldiers and civilians along the front and the impact of the harsh Russian winter.

With 250 photographs and text by renowned author and commentator Anthony Tucker-Jones, these images offer a rare, often surprising insight into the realities of the Second World War and people caught up in it, in vivid colour detail.

Those of us that are only familiar with the black and white photos in most books about the Second World War will be shocked to realize that color photography was readily available in Nazi Germany before the start of the war. In “Life and Death on the Eastern Front: Rare Colour Photographs From World War II” Ian Spring and Anthony Tucker-Jones collect these photographs from both official propaganda sources as well as personal photos taken by the soldiers themselves.

These are almost exclusively photos from the German side. The authors group the photos by theme, focusing on the equipment (both on land and in the air), the people (soldiers, POWs, and even civilians), and scenes behind the lines. We see the effects of the war, from burning buildings to destroyed tanks, but also we see the soldiers as human beings, enjoying downtime, shaving, lying in the sun. And finally we see the weather taking a toll, from choking dusk to axle-deep mud to the dreaded Russian winter.

There is not enough one can say about the photos – they are absolutely spectacular. One forgets what a difference color makes when looking at those scenes from long ago – the soldiers, the scenery comes alive. One can abhor the Nazis and all that they stood for but feel some sympathy for the young men thrust into the deadly situation that would claim many of their lives. We see what the day-to-day lives at the front lines (and behind those lines) was like for the common soldier.

NetGalley, Darius Ostrowski

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a real photographic memory and story to go with it. The pictures arent staged nor are they sparing of sadness for both sides. The amazing part of this book for me was seeing the Russian prisoners fighting against the Russians in some photos. The destruction in these photos made me realize how foolish war is and the cost of it is unimaginable . Excellent look at the Eastern Front focusing on the early war years.

NetGalley, Patrick Carmen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have read many books about the Eastern Front, but I can honestly say that this ranks among the best in the genre. The authors have brought together and professionally collated, many previously unpublished rare coloured photographs of the long & bitter campaign in Russia.
The quality of the photographs is quite outstanding, especially when one considers the dreadful climatic conditions that the photographers, cameras, and films had to endure. Each photo has been carefully researched, with the authors identifying the equipment and, where possible, the approximate location where it was taken.
The photographs reconfirm the vast range of disparate vehicles the Germans had at their disposal. It must have been a logistical nightmare to source the spare parts - particularly as most of the available vehicles were totally unsuitable for the conditions experienced on the Eastern Front. Having personally experienced life in the Steppes, I can confirm that the Winters are truly dreadful. However, the Summers can be even worse! Clouds of penetrating dust, flies, midges, and insufferable heat! I cannot imagine how awful it must have been to fight and live in these conditions against a vast unstoppable enemy.
There are many more thousands of unpublished photographs in the author's archives, I cannot wait for the other photographs to be published in the future!

NetGalley, Peter Coxall

A interesting photographic look at the war on the eastern front during WW2. The pictures both professional and amateur provide an interesting look at both the equipment and personal sides of the war. The photos are clear, and provide little known glimpses into the war. The author does an excellent job of providing a good narrative to explain each section of the book to give a great background for the photos.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Anthony Tucker-Jones and Ian Spring’s gorgeous book is a meticulously researched and arresting visual history of life on the Eastern Front of World War II, featuring an archive of colour photographs which provide an unprecedented insight into everyday wartime life.
The book begins with biographical detail of the various official (and unofficial) German and Russian photographers who took the photos at the time. Most of the photographs were taken using film made by the then up and coming manufacturer Agfa, which became widely popular both during and after the war. The shots have an honest, imperfect charm due to the limitations of the film.
Ian Spring’s stunning collection of over 30,000 colour photographs taken by Germans on the Eastern Front forms the backbone of this excellent book. The photos have a moving realism to them as they are naturally-posed records of the soldiers’ war experiences. Many of them are lighthearted with German soldiers posing and smiling for the camera, while others are incredibly poignant. There are even some shots of Hitler himself visiting the battlefield to the delight of the troops.
The book is split into three parts, exploring the conflict on the ground, in the air and behind the lines. Anthony Tucker-Jones’ captions are full and detailed with a huge amount of technical information about armoured vehicles, fighter planes and weapons to satisfy the enthusiast.
This is a beautifully produced book which is highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of WWII at a human level.

NetGalley, Wyn Lewis

About Ian Spring

Developing a fascination with historical imagery from a young age, Dublin-born Ian Spring began collecting colour photo slides of the war from all over the world. Determined to preserve these historical moments for the future of mankind, he created the PIXPAST Archive to digitize and share this extraordinary collection. Thought to be the world's largest collection of World War II colour photography, the archive has supported historical research and contributed to more than 50 publications.

About Anthony Tucker-Jones

Anthony Tucker-Jones, a former intelligence officer, is an author and commentator who specialises in military history, with more than 50 books to his name. His work has also been published in an array of magazines and online. He regularly appears on television and radio programmes commenting on current and historical military matters. His books include Stalin’s RevengeSlaughter on the Eastern Front, Kursk 1943The Eastern Front Air WarArmoured Warfare on the Eastern FrontD-Day 1944 and The Devil’s Bridge.

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