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Melvin C. Shaffer World War II Photographs

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    • Near the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1945

    • 1945
    • Germany
    • A panorama near the Brandenburg Gate. I believe the domed building is the opera house. The opera made an astonishing effort to get back into production and before the end of May and even gave a performance of a Wagnerian opera which I was invited...
    • Algiers Harbor, 1943

    • 1943
    • North Africa
    • A view of Algiers harbor with wartime shipping anchored and waiting to unload. Much of the war material for the African campaign came through this harbor. It was also a vital supply link in the battles of Sicily and Italy. [paragraph] The Germans...
    • Naples and Mt. Vesuvius, April 1945

    • 1945
    • Italy and Southern France
    • A view of the harbor at Naples with Mt. Vesuvius in the background. A truly beautiful city, Naples was a nice retreat from assignments in the forward areas. This photo was made after the massive eruption of Vesuvius and clearly shows the newly...
    • Mt. Vesuvius eruption, Naples, 1944

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • A view of Vesuvius from the western part of Naples, clearly showing the massive lava cloud spewing from the volcano's top. This photo, made near the beginning of the eruption, shows a southward flow of lava and a very high concentration of ash in...
    • Evacuation hospital near Cassino

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • Another view of the hospital described elsewhere. The sound of fighting in and around Cassino could be heard and smoke from mortar and artillery fire could clearly be seen as I made this photo from a small artillery-spotting plane.
    • Erecting tents for the 8th Evacuation Hospital

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • Depicted here is just one of many moves this hospital made up the Italian Peninsula as the fighting progressed. A huge complex, it could nonetheless be picked up, transported, and then returned to operation within two days.
    • Melvin Shaffer overlooking Pietramala, Italy, 1944

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • Looking north from Pietramala towards the German lines just at the ridgeline near the top of this photo; the Germans were no doubt watching me, as they had observation points all along this range as well as made frequent sorties at night into the...
    • Homes in the countryside near Casablanca, September 1943

    • 1943
    • North Africa
    • Made of native materials, these homes provided cheap and effective protection from the mild climate of Morocco. The people lived with their animals, sharing housing, water and sometimes food. When cold at night, close proximity to animals provided...
    • Street in the Medina, Algiers, November 1943

    • 1943
    • North Africa
    • Narrow, dark, and restricting to traffic and commerce, a very high population density made these streets impassable and dangerous at times. Consequently, soldiers tended to visit and tour in the very early morning hours or (quickly) at the time of...
    • Olympic stadium, Berlin, 1945

    • 1945
    • Germany
    • The 1936 Olympic Stadium. This was a rather moving visit for me, as I recalled listening to the radio broadcasts from the Olympics in 1936. We were all so proud of the Americans who made such a great showing at this event and I had all these...
    • 8th Evacuation Hospital, Pietramala, Italy, Winter 1944 / 1945

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • The 8th Evacuation Hospital -- manned by a unit from the University of Virginia -- at the Pietramala location, about 40 miles north of Florence. The photograph was made from atop a mountain to the west of the Hospital. The highway shown is one of...
    • Fred Toelle at work

    • 1945
    • Italy and Southern France
    • The artist Fred Toelle, who painted the large murals depicted in this collection of photographs. Fred, a classical fine artist, was very slow and deliberate, making many sketches then a small-scale painting of each subject. His assignment was not...
    • Liberty ship, November 1945

    • 1945
    • Italy and Southern France
    • The best sight of all: the rigging of a liberty ship on the way home. This ship had been used for hauling mules to Italy, said mules to be employed for ammunition carrying in the Apennines. The ship had during that year-long term of this...
    • Bismarck Statue, Berlin, 1945

    • 1945
    • Germany
    • The Bismarck Statue, Berlin, late May 1945. In contrast to most other soldiers, Americans generally were gawking tourists and the US Army made serious efforts to give opportunities for sight-seeing whenever it could. Most combat soldiers, though,...
    • Mt. Vesuvius at night, eruption of 1944

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • The fury of the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius was more apparent at night when lava flow could nearly always be seen, a pattern of outcroppings that changed nightly. Here the front is advancing towards Naples. This flow occurred irregularly...
    • Grand Cafe, the Medina, Algiers, 1943

    • 1943
    • North Africa
    • The Grand Café in the Medina, Algiers, a gathering place for locals and travelers alike. Food was served with tea but no wine. A similar café further on did serve wine but the Moslems avoided it and the clientele was made up almost exclusively of...
    • Aircraft hangar, Dachau, Germany, May 2 1945

    • 1945
    • Germany
    • The only photograph I kept of Dachau: the remains of an aircraft hangar just east of the compound. This was significant to me because we had used captured aircraft with US pilots to film the burning of Dachau. The two barracks buildings remaining...
    • Rome, Mussolini's balcony, 1944

    • 1944
    • Italy and Southern France
    • The Palazzo Venezia, from which Mussolini made his infamous "Il Duce" speeches in the years prior to the war.
    • Dome, Main Hall, Reich Chancellery, Berlin, 1945

    • 1945
    • Germany
    • The remains of a dome over the main entrance hall of the Chancellery, which had suffered a direct hit by a falling bomb. This bomb alone caused most of the damage inside the building; some effort had been made by the Russians not to destroy the...

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