Attribution: UK Telegraph
The old man looks relaxed, almost happy chatting with the soldiers. He and most of the other Jewish citizens pictured here in 1939 and 1940, are smiling, seemingly pleased to pose for photographer Hugo Jaeger.
Yet we know, 40 years later, that these people, and thousands of others like them, were in fact prisoners, to be despized as ‘rats’ and ‘parasites’ in Nazi propaganda.
Even more surprising, Jaeger was Hitler’s personal photographer, enjoying unprecedented access to the Third Reich’s upper echelon, traveling with the Fuhrer to his massive rallies and photographing him at intimate parties and during private moments.
An elderly man with a yellow Star of David fixed to his chest, speaks with German officers as he and other Jews are rounded up in Kunto, German-occupied Poland in 1939The photos, released to mark the official establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1940, were taken in the town of Kutno, 75 miles west of the Polish capital Warsaw.Although a staunch Nazi, Jaeger as photographer perhaps perceived the Polish Jews as fascinating subjects and his work depicts their tragic circumstances while at the same time allowing them to retain their humanity and dignity.
Apart from the odd soldier, there is very little German military presense. Instead the series shows the devastation in the landscape of the German invasion of Poland, while revealing very little of the ‘master race’ itself.
Exactly what Jaeger had in mind is of course a matter of guesswork, but from the reactions of the people portrayed in these images in Warsaw and Kutno, there appears to be surprising little hostility between the photographer and his subjects.
Innocent victims: These young Jewish girls couldn’t possibly have imagined horrors that lay ahead as pose outside their tent in another of Jaeger’s haunting photographs
Ghetto boys: In their tattered rags the two boys smile for the camera, but the man in the centre, most probably their father, has a look of distrust etched across his faceJaeger’s photos made such an impression on the Führer that he announced, upon first seeing his work: ‘The future belongs to color photography.’But beyond recording Hitler’s endless travels, Jaeger also documented the progress of the Reich, including the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.
The Kutno pictures serve as a unique curiosity. Why, instead of focussing on the glories of Hitler’s third Reich, did a staunch Nazi like Jaeger chose to take pictures of conquered Jews?
In June 1940, all 8,000 of Kutno’s Jews were rounded up and taken to what would be their new home – the grounds of an old sugar factory – where hundreds would die of hunger and Typhus.
Poles and Jews, friends and neighbors, were separated from one another. A Jewish council, the Judenrat, was created and tasked with forcing Jews to obey their German overlords.
While most Jaeger’s photographs focus on the glory and triumphalism of the Reich, here he has chosen instead to capture the misery of the conquered people instead
With their clean clothes and hair neatly coiffured, these three young women do not, at first glance, appear anything like Jaeger’s other subjects. But look closer and you find a star of David on the coat of the girl on the left
An elderly Jewish woman bends over outdoor rubble that serves as a kitchen while a man, his Star of David badge clealry visible, watches over her in the Kutno Ghetto
Makeshift dwelling: Jewish inhabitants of the Kutno Ghetto stand near a car which has been converted into a makeshift house in early 1940
A young woman clutches a jug as she escorts an elderly Jewish man through the Kutno Ghetto in early 1940
Daily life: An aerial view of the Kutno Ghetto which was set up on the grounds of a sugar factory
A Jewish woman uses a washing board to clean clothes in the Kutno. Unusually for an ardent Nazi, Jaeger’s allowed his Jewish subjects to retain their dignity and humanity
Despite the awfulness of her predicament, this Jewish woman manages to smile brightly for the camera as she poses for Jaeger
A lucky few managed to escape and were sheltered by their Polish friends. Most were not so lucky.
In 1942, as part of Hitler’s ‘final solution’ the Nazis began Operation Reinhardt, the plan to eliminate all of Poland’s Jews. In the spring of 1942 the Kutno Ghetto itself was ‘liquidated.’ The majority of its inhabitants were sent to the Chelmno extermination camp.
The unique set of pictures could have been lost forever were it not for a bottle of brandy. As the allies advanced into Germany in 1945, Jaeger hid his photographs in a leather suitcase.
He was then confronted by a group of American soldiers. Luckily they were distracted by a bottle of Cognac which they opened and shared with the photographer.
Had they searched the case further, and found so many pictures of Hitler, Jaeger would have most likely been arrested on the the spot and tried as a war criminal.
After such a close shave, Jaeger decided to bury the pictures inside 12 glass jars outside Munich. He would periodically return to their burial place to check they were safe.
In 1955, he dug them up and stored them in a bank vault. Ten years later, in 1965, he sold them to Life magazine.
Fate: In 1942, as part of Hitler’s ‘final solution’ the Nazis began Operation Reinhardt, the plan to eliminate all of Poland’s Jews. In the spring of 1942 the Kutno Ghetto itself was ‘liquidated’
Attribution: Daniel Miller
As far as extreme sports go, this may seem a little much.
These vintage images capture dare devil bikers driving motorcycles around a so-called ‘wall of death’, built perpendicular to the floor.
That’s dangerous enough without adding the lions on board the vehicles, which sit neatly perched in makeshift side-cars as spectators gather to watch in awe.
Perched on the edge of the vehicle, the lion is driven around the ‘wall of death’ at speeds as high as 80mph
Captured between the 1920s and 1960s, the photographs, which feature on the Retronaut website, show an event that became one of the most daring acts at fairgrounds and carnivals in the early 1900s in America.
The motorcycle craze – which peaked in the 1930s – began with single drivers circling around a wood-paneled motordrome at high speeds and completely vertical.
Over a hundred ‘walls of death’, as they became known, were traveling the states by the 1930s.
Taken in the mid-1900s, this photograph snaps a lioness roaring angrily at the driver of the vehicle
Extreme motorcycle shows became one of the most daring acts at fairgrounds and carnivals in the early 1910s in America
As organizers increased the angle of the walls throughout the years, making them more steep, the number of serious accidents increased.
One of the most popular versions of the sport was nicknamed the ‘Liondrome’, so-called because it featured a rider accompanied by a tamed lion.
Traveling with a lion was always risky business – as captured in these photographs – where lions and lionesses are seen letting out gigantic roars.
A man and his pet lion: The cub looks a tad grumpy as it rests on the motorcycle ahead of the show
‘Death riders and racing lion’: A signed photograph of a lion and the courageous riders
The drivers placed the animals in side-cars, unless they were small enough, in which case the lions were sometimes placed on the rider’s lap.
One of the most difficult parts of the stunt was to induce the lion to remain quiet throughout the event.
After a number of accidents in which riders were injured or killed, it was decided the sport had become too dangerous and it ended.
Attribution: Mail Online
Standing still or making waves every one of these awe-inspiring brown bears seems to have a different strategy to get a catch at Kurile Lake, a large caldera containing the crater lake located at the southern tip of Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian wilderness.
The brown bears – which are the largest in Eurasia – take part in one the greatest natural phenomenons on Earth as the hunt the annual spawning run of Pacific salmon. And for many of the tasty fish it’s a losing battle against the claws and teeth of the huge bears.
Those that don’t meet a grizzly end will die naturally feeding the waters of the lake with nutrients after they have laid their eggs to carry on the species. Kurile Lake is formed from a crater of an extinct volcano and reaches depths of around 1,000ft.
Czech wildlife photographer Petr Slavik, 44, spent weeks following the bears as they took advantage of the spawning fish filling the lake.
He said: ‘Photographing of big predators is a strong experience anywhere in the world.
‘The shores of the Kurile Lake offer such a concentration of bears that soon enough you will stop counting the bears who will get in front of your camera during a single day.
‘The Kamchatka subspecies of brown bear can reach more than a thousand pounds.
‘Thanks to millions of salmon which are coming every year to spawn, these giant animals have enough food and it is possible to observe quite often a bear female with three or four cubs.’
Petr said such was bears desire to hunt for the salmon it gave him amazing access.
He said: ‘When you are lying on the lake shore waiting for the right image, you will get in a close contact with these creatures.
‘A bear who is fishing concentrates so deeply on his prey that often he forgets the distance between you and him. When he splashes your camera with water you start to think, how close is too close?’
Attribution: Leon Watson