World War II was an incredibly important time in the history of the world. Families were torn apart, industry was forced to shift gears to provide supplies to soldiers. It was the most destructive war in the history of the world. Casualties are believed to have reached 50 million including soldiers and civilians alike. World War II played a pivotal role in political power and where we stand today. This is a subject that will always be interesting, captivating our minds and tearing at our emotions. Over the course of the last 70 years we have probed every detail about World War II. We’ve learned so much about human behavior and strategy. We’ve learned about business and innovation. We’ve learned about the immense power of our own emotions. We also have a desire to continue to learn about our history to prepare and plan for a better future. Well an amazing discovery was recently made by Levi Bettweiser, a collector and film restorer. He discovered a collection of undeveloped film at an auction that once belonged to a soldier who fought in WWII. He has documented the process of carefully restoring these images and what he has found is simply incredible. Take a look at the restored World War II photographs below.
He purchased a bundle of film from an auction in Ohio. Many of the rolls had water damage as well as rusted reels so he wasn’t sure if he would be able to develop any of it. He is a professional film restorer so he is used to this however, these rolls were taken during WWII from a soldier so they were very important. He had to be especially careful when restoring this film because of the historical value of these images.
There were 31 rolls of undeveloped film in the bundle. All were taken by the same anonymous photographer and individually labeled. Some of the labels on the film rolls read; “Lucky Strike Beach”, “Start of Train Trip”, “Roll of French funeral, 1947″. There were also some letters wrapped around some of the undeveloped film rolls.
The letters were personal letters including a sort of diary of emotions and sights. One of the letters had a powerful quote from the original photographer that read, “I’ve always had a lonesome life, dreaming of success and love.”
Restoring old film rolls is no easy task. Bettweiser is a professional and takes the utmost care and pride in his work. He meticulously goes through a developing process knowing that he could easily ruin these historical images.
“When I pull the film that I just developed out my developing tank, I am the very first person who has ever seen that picture. They’ve never been enjoyed, they’ve never been remembered and so it almost increases the weight of the importance of that photo because it has never had those moments before. And that’s the goal of the rescued film project.” – Levi Bettweiser
Levi is part of The Rescued Film Project, which is a coalition of photograph restorers who feel it is incredibly important to rescue film before it is lost forever. They do all this work for the public and do take your undeveloped photos and restore them for free.
“We’ve been receiving a ton of information about the locations in which the photos were taken because those are hard facts that you can research. But when it comes to who the photographer was we have much less to go on.”
Some thoughts written by the original photographer on coming back home.
The struggle with personal emotional conflict is apparent. It is heartbreaking to say the least.
Bettweiser is looking for any information about the historical photos that he found. If you recognize any of these people or places be sure to contact The Rescued Film Project.
Here are the images that Levi Bettweiser has restored from the batch of film purchased at an Ohio auction.
More Info: Rescued Film
Can you imagine the excitement when developing something this historic and significant? I’m sure Levi was jumping out of his seat when the film was done being developed. These restored World War II photographs definitely bring out some strong emotions in all of us. They are historically valuable and account one man’s personal battles with being at war and his desire to come home. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a soldier back then but these restored World War II photographs shed some light into what these brave young men had to face.