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  • ‘Unseen World War I photos’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on August 9th, 2013 (All posts by )

    I am posting these images with the kind permission from Dean Putney.

    Dean Putney, a software developer at boing boing, is currently busy scanning in and publishing pictures from a family heirloom – a photo album with a huge number of photographs from World War I. They were taken by his great-grandfather Walter Koessler, who served as an officer in the German army during the war. Koessler later emigrated to the United States, where he worked as an art director at movie studios, even though he was trained as an architect.

    The images are posted at his Tumblr blog, Walter Koessler project. A selection also has been posted at boing boing.

    While there are a great many images from WW I, these are quite unique. As he writes at his blog:

    1 Walter was German, and he was an independent photographer. Most surviving photos from the war are from the Allies, and they tend to be propaganda or journalistic. Walter’s photos are very personal.

    Photography was going through big changes at the time, and Walter was a major early adopter. Film cameras were fairly new, and he took his in the trenches and everywhere else. WWI saw the first major use of airplanes in war, and Walter took aerial reconnaissance photos from biplanes and hot air balloons.

    He has a project at Kickstarter to publish the images in high quality form, and most importantly, as a coherent collection.

    If you want to contribute, pledges start at a $1 minimum.


    9 Responses to “‘Unseen World War I photos’”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      Ralf, thank you for this post. These photos are amazing, a window into the past.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks, Ralf. This is great stuff.

      I have a friend whose grandfather was an aerial observer in the US Army during the first world war. The grandfather left a trove of high-quality personal photos that few people outside of his family have seen. There must be a lot of this kind of thing out there. It’s unlikely ever to find its way into museums or history books but the Internet seems a perfect way to organize it and make it publicly available.

    3. Ralf Goergens Says:

      You are welcome and thanks to you, Michael and Jonathan.

    4. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Tumblr seems to be a pretty good platform for presenting photographs systematically. Really good scanners also are affordable now. Then again, this is a pretty time consuming affair, as dean Putney can attest.

    5. David Foster Says:

      Great photo collection…thanks, Ralf!

      There are also some color photos of WWI, from the French side.

    6. Ralf Goergens Says:

      You are welcome, and thanks, David.

    7. Ralf Goergens Says:

      I was thinking about the French collection yesterday, too. I’ll post about it, too, if you don’t get around to it, first. ;)


      Wow, these are truly amazing. I am going to go to the project link now to see more. Too bad there is no caption on these but no one thought about doing that way back when.

    9. Bill Brandt Says:

      It’s like being opened a portal into time

      Imagine the horror of seeing your friends buried in a trench – from a morter