A few you may have seen, but these are the photos that don’t typically make it into our history textbooks. Sometimes, it would require too much explanation to set the scene – but some of them change the narrative.
From the depth of emotion that humans are capable of to the atrocities we’re willing to support, these photos also show the lengths humans have gone to get everything from happiness to power. And they also show the winners and the victims along the way – including our planet.
These are the photos your history teacher never showed you.
1. Looks familiar
The number of deaths from the 1918 flu was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the U.S. alone. And yet some people still couldn’t be bothered to take precautions.
2. What a queen
She was a mechanic and a truck and ambulance driver during WWII!
3. Einstein becomes an American
He was educated in Switzerland and retured to Germany in 1914, winning the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.
But his fame made him a target and he and his wife came to the U.S. in 1933.
Some Americans opposed what they saw as his “radical” views, but on June 22, 1940, Einstein took his American citizenship test and was naturalized on October 1, 1940.
There were over 1.5 billion shells fired throughout the conflict – nearly a million shells per day for 4 years straight.
After seeing this photo, it doesn’t surprise us.
5. A friendly foot bath
And we love them both for this moment in which they show that the color of one’s skin shouldn’t matter when it comes to sharing.
6. Lives destroyed
Imagine destroying that many marriages, breaking up that many families, and being responsible for the death and torture of so many more.
7. Recognizing humanity
In another time and place, these two might be friends.
But the most this American soldier could do for his so-called enemy in the moment was to give him one last recognition of his humanity before leaving him to die.
8. When privacy was easy
It’s just interesting that maintaining your cover was as easy as sliding a hat in front of your face in those days.
One wonders why they even attended the trial if they were trying to keep a low profile.
9. Fear and joy
The looks of joy and relief are vivid in this photo – althought there was still plenty to worry about before they got back to Earth.
10. A rare moment
For many Black students, integration was terrifying and dangerous and students weren’t accepting. And we can’t imagine how it must have felt.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn an important lesson from a rare happy photo showing all of these kids getting along.
Charles Thompson greets his new classmates at Public School No. 27 in September 1954, less than four months after the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation was unconstitutional. Charles was the only African-American child in the school. Photo by Richard Stacks for the Baltimore Sun. [1200×926] from r/HistoryPorn
11. The face of a monster
Joseph Goebbels was the minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. And you can see the hate in his eyes when he is told the man behind the camera is Jewish. Although we certainly see fear as well.
12. Once there was nothing
And someone must have seen the potential if they were already selling land for $3 million back in the 50s!
It certainly shows the aftermath in more detail than we’d like to see.
Many consider this to be Ali’s greatest fight, in which he defeated Williams via a TKO in 3 rounds.
14. Over a century ago
It’s amazing to be able to see Central Park (which was once a poor neighborhood who residents were made to leave). That project began in 1858.
15. Breaking the rules
We’re not sure who shot this photo of a German soldier helping a boy cross the Berlin Wall after he became separated from his family, but we sure hope his superiors never got wind of it.
16. Icon as a baby
Back when he was little Farrokh Bulsara, no one could have possibly imagined how he’d change the world with his talent.
17. More than an album cover
But that’s not what’s important.
The real power lies in the fact that some people live their wholes lives knowing only the torture of malnourishment. Starvation isn’t something you get used to. And it’s a terrible way to die.
Still, we’ve allowed millions to perish from hunger.
18. Free borsht!
We’re not surprised those who were chased out of their home country by his policies would be enjoying a traditional meal on that day.
19. Back to the attic
It’s a heartbreaking and powerful photo. And luckily most of us will never understand what it’s like to live in that kind of fear.
20. Protecting the goods
There are incredible stories about paintings and small artefacts being smuggled to safety in the middle of the night. But some things had to be protected where they stood, like Michelangelo’s David.
And if you’ve ever seen it in person you know how lucky we are to still have it around.
21. Do the right thing
It’s hard to have too much sympathy for a Ku Klux Klan racist, but a young Black woman did just that when he was being attacked.
She knew violence was not the answer and mob justice is no justice at all.
22. Fly the friendly skies
And that’s not too far from the truth.
Let’s just say airlines had their heyday – and it’s neither today nor the 1930s when this plane was flying.
We prefer the world cluster*&#k.
And that’s exactly what happened – especially since many citizens weren’t keen on the new law anyway. But it’s something everyone has to be on board with or else things turn out like this.
24. There’s no place like home
We don’t know the circumstances surrounding the photo, but it sure does make you think.
25. Getting the news
We can understand – to some extent – how relieved people were to hear that he was gone.
26. We 9 kings
Seated, from left to right are King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.
The photo was taken place during the funeral of King Edward VII.
There’s a lot of weath and power in that room.
27. Politics on the beach
This woman was so afraid of being mistaken for Japanese that she flew a giant Chinese flag on the beach.
Now we might see that in a whole new light.
28. Real-life Spiderman
We don’t think today’s police would let anyone stop to relish their fame after committing a crime, regardless of whether or not anyone got hurt.
He sure does look truly tiny next to that building though!
29. Packing the Square
But this is an impromptu scene.
Our favorite Reddit comment on this pic?
“Damn. I can’t even get my three kids to look at the camera at the same time.”
30. The people’s princess
This misinformation made it so that people wouldn’t even be in the same room with people they saw as “contaminated.”
But one of the most posh women in the world showed everyone there was nothing to be afraid of when she compassionately shook the hand of an AIDS patient.
31. It’s a sign
This isn’t something you expect to see anywhere in the world. But it wasn’t that long ago that northern Ireland could be a very dangerous place.
32. Your weekend watch
This photo is such a bizarre scene thoough – even if Pelé is just taking a break. There’s just something so disturbing about Nazi iconagraphy.
33. An open gate
There are very few people still around who would remember seeing it get built.
34. The power of nurses
This one happens to be incredibly brave as well, since smallpox is highly contagious through air droplets.
But if we’ve learned anything this year it’s that masks save lives.
One minute you’re headed towards your death and the next you have a chance to be free.
It looks like they could hardly believe it.
36. Welcome home
Just look at all of these sailors returning home. Imagine what it was like to be fighting such a brutal war and then get crammed onto a ship for a long journey home.
37. A shameful past
Racism was so vile that white people thought a Black man could contamine their water just because his skin happened to be a different color.
Isom was one of a group of young men who swam the pool that day in an attempt at peaceful desegregation. But the City Manager closed the whole facility just to prevent it from becoming integrated.
Imagine having that much hate in your heart.
And frankly, this doesn’t look like much damage considering all of the death and destruction (both long and short-term) it caused.
It’s scary to wonder what might have happened to that photographer.
39. Images of war
Imagine all the thoughts you’d have as you tried to comfort a baby whose mother was just killed.
So much for Belgium trying to be neutral.
40. A majestic backdrop
In fact, Armstrong and his wife look like they’re superimposed onto an Egyptian background.
But this moment took place in 1961 as an act of cultural diplomacy. Armstrong was asked to play at the foot of the Great Sphinx and the pyramids in Giza.
41. A show about nothing
In fact, it looks like someone colorized it to look like it’s from the 60s.
But some things just happen to change a lot in a short period of time…or 22 years.
42. Mixed feelings
But rarely do we get a glimpse like this.
We can only image what was going through his head and wonder if he felt any sense of relief at no longer being in the hot seat.
43. Little girl, big moment
And it’s even more incredible to think of just how young Ruby Bridges was when she participated in the desegregation of William Frantz Elementary School.
At just six years old, she played a huge role in kickstarting the Civil Rights movement in the American South.
44. Boys will be boys
It would only get more bizarre from there.
45. A family affair
While we don’t know much more about the photo, most people seem to agree that it’s a father and son pictured here.
We just wish we knew what this kid was thinking at the time and if he knew the implications here.
47. Finger pointing
“A Soviet slave laborer among prisoners liberated by 3rd Armored Division in Buchenwald points out a former Nazi guard who brutally beat prisoners on April 14, 1945, at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Thuringia, Germany.”
48. Another side of the protests
The iconic “tank man” image is the only one we ever see.
It’s hard to imagine that these young people might have been shot not long after the photo was taken.
But this is just sickening.
And it’s very odd to see Hitler smiling like that. Almost eerie.
50. Dude looks like a lady
You’d think they’d have better things to do than arrest cross-dressers, but we used to criminalize all sorts of harmless behavior.
51. Trouble in the air
The United States government claimed the ship’s crew thought the plane was going to attack after making ten attempts to contact the aircraft. The Iranians say the soldiers negligently shot down the aircraft.
None of that makes this woman’s tears less painful.
52. A hot mess
Those plumes eventually caught fire. And nothing good happens when a RIVER manages to catch on fire.
53. Some light reading
We’re sure the reading material “determined by consensus” had propagantic sentiments, but these workers probably got more exposure to the world of literature than many Americans do.
54. A 16-year-old legend
And it’s wild to see him as a teenager. What confidence!
It’s almost like he knew what was ahead of him.
55. It takes a big man to surrender
Everyone was probably ready for the war to be over at that point.
56. Before the power
We could never picture Angela Merkel drinking Schnaps with fisherman until now. But she certainly made the rounds before she made it big.
57. Hatred is fear
We can only hope he saw the photo at some point if he didn’t realize it at the time.
58. Not only in America
But it’s hard to believe that segregation was the law of the land until so recently.
59. That’s not what we expected
But apparently things are not always what they seem.
That’s some serious valor these Indian soldiers are showing in the face of enemy fire.
We always think a picture is worth a thousand words, but one taken from another angle is worth a thousand more.
That makes things a lot more complicated than we’re often told – and that’s history for ya.