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27 Unsettling Photos From The Past That Will Stay With You Forever

OMG December 7, 2016 By Hugo

History is characterised by photography, and sometimes the most powerful photos are the ones that depict humanity in a more revealing light; just like the photos compiled in this list.

Here are 27 unsettling photos from the past that will stay with you forever.


A German Soldier Mourns The Loss Of His Family Upon Returning Home

Source: rarehistoricalphotos.com

Here, a German prisoner of war has returned home to his desolate town in 1946. His family have all perished in the destruction of war and his home is gone. Despite fighting for his country, he now has nothing left.

Dorothy Count's Brave First Day

Source: emailsforall.blogspot.in

The infamous Brown V Board of Education trial was a blow to segregation across the United States but despite this, it still stoked racial tensions within the country. Here, a young Dorothy Count's became one of the first black students to enrol at the all-white Harry Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sadly, due to bullying and racially motivated harassment, her father withdrew her four days later.

Facing The Firing Squad

Source: rarehistoricalphotos.com

In response to a fight breaking out between German and Polish forces, the occupying Nazi forces decided to kill 14% of the population of the city of Bydgoszcz. This photo shows six men arranged for the firing squad and details the range of emotions before death including defiance, resignation and fear.

Survivor of The Holocaust is Asked To Draw Home

Source: emlii.com

Many of the younger generations who grew up in the concentration camps could not remember what home was like and had the permanent memories of abuse and degradation etched on their minds. This young girl was asked to draw home and could only draw furious scrawls.

Loss Of Innocence

Source: boredpanda.com

World War Two was a devastating, catastrophic series of events that destroyed homes, stole lives and created horrific situations. These image of a bombed out London shows that even children weren't exempt from this pain and misery despite still trying to cling to Source: their childhoods.

Auschwitz Gas Chamber

Source: imgur.com

The infamous concentration camp of the Nazi regime was where many of the world's worst atrocities were committed and this chilling image of scratches on the walls of a gas chamber in the camp hammer home how horrific it really was as people tried to find a way out.


Source: aol.com

When Korea split into two separate countries after the war in the 1950s, it left some families divided as North Korea became a hermit nation that ceased trade or travel between its Southern neighbour. Every so often it grants families to meet up in a neutral zone but at the end of the day, they must return to their respective nations not knowing if or when they will meet again.

Segregation in America, 1959

segregation in america
Source: twitter.com/History_Pics

Memphis Zoo would open its grounds for black people only once a week. White people were told not to come that day.

A black police officer protects a Klansman, 1983

black cop
Source: twitter.com/History_Pics

At a KKK rally in Austin, Texas, 1983, a black police officer made headlines when he was pictured protecting a Klan member. It seems that those who experience the most hatred, are often those that can be most forgiving to those who fail to see past their colour.

A black child in Belgium enclosed in a human zoo, 1958

african belgium

While it may appear fictitious and nightmarish, human zoos, were lucrative attractions and drew in thousands of visitors. This picture, taken only 56 years ago at a human zoo in Belgium, illustrates the degrading and inhumane treatment of those with a different skin color to that of the natives.

1916- A shell-shocked soldier is pictured looking delirious after a continued bout of bombardment


Shell-shock is a medically recognized condition that attributes the loss of vision,  ability to walk, sleep or even talk to constant warfare, a reality this young soldier knew all too well.

Hitler Visits Paris, 1941


The Nazi's ruthless invasion of France in 1940 was perhaps Hitler's greatest achievement and while France was a sworn enemy, Hitler made no secret of his love for the City of Lights and is reported to have said that visiting the city shortly after the invasion, "was the greatest and finest moment of my life."

With that being said, the Fuhrer told Albert Speer (left) shortly after this poignant photo was taken that, "Berlin must be far more beautiful. When we are finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow."

Millie, a 4-year-old cotton picker, goes to work at a farm near Huston, Texas, 1913

cotton picker
Source: hi-likes.com

Cotton picking is a trade associated with slavery in America, but a large proportion of the rural poor in America were white and also made ends meet in the fields. Many were also children like Milly, and would usually pick around eight pounds every day.

Separated during conflict 


The Iraq War was one that should have never happened according to the many politicians and human rights campaigners and this heartbreaking picture, showing an American soldier comforting a little girl after getting separated from her family is another example of why we should always think twice before entering a war. 

A courageous civilian protects an Iranian police officer from violent protestors


In recent years the Iranian youths more Western ideals have significantly contrasted with a more Sharia-minded older generation, many of whom occupy the highest levels of government. For a while riots were daily occurrences and many police were significantly beaten as a result of their pre-conceived affiliation to the political establishment. But the humanity of some protestors, regardless of what they believed, shone through, illustrated superbly in this captivating photograph.

An East German soldier risks his job to help the plight of a young boy


Risking it all to help a lost boy return to his family, a soldier looks around and then takes the kid away from the socialist East and back to where his family resides in the capitalist West. Unfortunately, many others weren't so lucky and would have to wait until the wall's demise in 1989 before they would see their loved ones again.

A black protestor protects a suspected Klan member from an angry mob, 1996


The Ku Klux Klan are undoubtedly one of history's most xenophobic and racist organisations but sometimes in life, no matter how much you disagree with another's opinions, it is important never to inflict physical pain on others, a truism one brave black protester knew all too well.

Tears of Unity: A protestor and a riot officer share a moment of sadness amidst the 2013 riots

As we have mentioned before in this article, protestors and police all have one objective: to satisfy their agendas but that doesn't mean they don't share the same emotions. 

A mother comforts her daughter through a border fence in Arizona after she was deported back to Mexico six years ago


The issue of immigration dominated the 2016 presidential campaign, and because of Trump's victory, many second-generation Americans might find themselves having to part ways with members of their family who came to the country illegal, just like the 25-year-old Renata Teodoro had to do to her mother six years ago.

Riot police protect gay-rights activists in St. Petersburg, Russia after continued attacks from homophobic thugs


Russia has a long-standing problem with homophobia, and this was displayed again when a group of unarmed LGBT activists were beaten by anti-gay protestors and thus needing a team of riot police to protect them.

A mother and daughter embrace each other after both being left disfigured from an acid attack


Somayeh Mehri (29) and her daughter Rana Afghanipour (3), were pictured giving each other a kiss after being left disfigured when the husband and father took revenge on Somayeh by pouring acid over their entire bodies when they were sleeping. The reason? She had asked for a divorce after years of physical abuse. Samayeh was left permanently blind from the attack while her daughter lost one eye.

 A grief-stricken man leans against a placard of the names of the many people feared dead after the atrocities of 9/11 


When two separate planes flew into the Twin Towers, it shocked the world to the core and changed the political landscape almost overnight. More significantly, it also took the lives of just under 3,000 people, many of whom had a plethora of relatives

The burning monk of Saigon


Arguably one of the most iconic images of all time, the photo, taken in Vietnam in the year 1963, depicts the Buddhist monk Thích Quang burning himself to death. The reason for Quang's sacrifice stemmed from the feud between the Catholic Church and the Buddhists, who made up 70-90% of the population.

Although, when U.S correspondents became informed of 'something important' taking place outside the Cambodian embassy in Saigon, little did many journalists know or believe that anything of significance would happen. So unimpressed were many reporters that only a handful turned up. However, one of those that did was New York Times journalist Malcolm Browne, who would go on to receive a Pulitzer Prize for his work documenting the crisis.

 Waiting for death


This graphic photo of a starving Sudanese child kneeling to his death as a wide-eyed vulture waits in the background sent shivers through the international community when it was published in 1992. Captured by Kevin Carter, the photograph would go on to win the 1994 Pulitzer Prize.

However, it seemed the images Carter documented were almost too much to bear, leading the famed photographer to take his life a year later.  Leaving a suicide note, the South African wrote, "I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners."

A young Japanese boy stands at attention after bringing his dead brother to a cremation pyre


In the wake of the American bombings that reigned over Japan in 1945, photographer Joe O' Donnell would spend the next seven months documenting the plights and casualties of the many thousands of citizens affected. Devastatingly, many sufferers of the atrocities were children, as this stark photograph of a brave boy carrying his baby brother to a cremation ground shows.

A deceased Vietnamese soldier is pictured beside a photograph of his wife


In 1968, The Tet Offensive- a campaign launched by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army- was responsible for some 14,000 deaths. But, like all wars, the fragility of combat brings loss to not only the soldiers but also their loved ones.

A devastated mother puts her four children up "for sale"


In a sordid state of affairs, husband and wife Ray and Lucille Chalifoux were forced to part ways with their children due to falling behind in rent payments. The picture was first published by The Vidette-Messenger of Valparaiso but was soon picked up by many of the national papers. Years later, some of the siblings reunited, with one scathing in her analysis of her adoptive mother's actions. Speaking to the North West Indiana Times, Sue Chalifoux, now 67, said, "I hope she burns in hell."

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