Twenty weeks of WWII at The Atlantic

A succession of recent posts had me thinking about WWII: a French diary from the early years of the Nazi occupation, a children’s collectible that documented the Japanese conquest of Asia, a letter written by my grandfather from Japan the day the war ended.  Now comes a 20-part series of WWII images, the first ran yesterday and it will continue every Sunday through October.  A couple of things make it interesting.  One is that Alan Taylor digs up some unfamiliar images of this peculiarly photogenic period of history, when politics seemed defined by theatrical displays of raw power.  Even for those who’ve seen Leni Riefenstahl’s creepily stylized film Triumph of the Will about Hitler’s 1934 Nuremberg rallies, the picture above of a mass gymnastics exercise suggests a degree of political discipline and mass participation that still startles; so, too, in a different way, the picture below of the young audience listening to a Hitler speech.  But the series also takes a broad and inclusive view of the events that relate to WWII, so it includes high politics like the battles between the Axis and Allied countries or fighting in the Spanish Civil War as well as the Dust Bowl in the US and obliquely political acts like the changing of street signs in Vienna.

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