Today’s post is written by Lopez D. Matthews, Jr., an Archives Technician in the Holdings Management Division at Archives II.
Occasionally, as we work with records we come across a document that completely catches our attention. This was the case as we began describing the documents held in Record Group 498, the records of the European Theater of Operations for the United States Army during World War II.
In the records, there are many different kinds of reports that range from statistics to counterintelligence to details of combat. Most of these reports contain few (if any) photographs, so it is rare to come across a report where the story is told almost entirely through photographs.
This was the case when the Aerial Photo Interpretation Detachment of the 12th Army Group released their Photo intelligence report with a desire to tell “the story of the [Wehrmacht] campaign as we saw it…” The report begins with a series of photographs detailing the strength of the German forces. Included in this section are aerial views of German factories, and military installations and technological developments.
As the report continues, the reader is treated to a series of photographs depicting the destruction of everything shown in the previous photographs as Allied Forces moved through France, into the Rhineland and into Germany.
The report ends with an incredible photograph that clearly reflects the magnitude of the destruction heaped upon the nation by the Allied Powers. The final caption says it all “…and Germany in ruins surrendered unconditionally.”