It’s difficult to understand what’s happening in this photo at first — and then, when you do, you have to take in the enormity of it. While it looks like a casual, almost upbeat exchange, this image actually captures U.S. Military Police of the 44th Infantry Division as they interview two Wehrmacht child soldiers. After German men were thin on the ground towards the end of the war, German and Austrian boys as young as 12 and 14 were conscripted. Many people remain unaware of the use of child soldiers at that time and, looking at their faces, it’s heartbreaking to imagine these two boys as part of the war.

child soldiers

Landeck, Tyrol-Vorarlberg, Ostmark (prior to the war and afterward: Landeck, Tyrol, Austria).

5 May 1945.

Credit: Anti-Worlds