Belgium was occupied by the German army during the First World War. Only a small part of southwest Flanders remained Belgian territory and was defended by the Allied armies. The city of Ypres was close to the frontline and was surrounded by German troops. The city remained in Allied hands during the war, but the Ypres Sailant became the scene of four major battles.
During the second battle, chlorine gas was used by the German troops in April 1915. The use of poison gas added a new horrific dimension to the war. The Third Battle of Ypres started in July 1917. The Allies wanted to expel the German army from the sailant, but the offensive ended in a massacre that got completely stuck in the mud due to persistent rainfall.
The First World War came to an end on November 11, 1918. By then, the city of Ypres was completely destroyed but it was rebuilt after the war.
The glass stereoviews are from the collection of an unknown photographer. The photos are made in the 6x13cm format and have a brown tone. The images show the ruins of three buildings that were all rebuilt after the war. It’s likely that the photos were taken shortly after the war.
Striking is a little girl who returns in all images, sometimes with flowers in her hand. She is alternately accompanied by a man or woman. These photos were clearly staged by the photographer. The presence of people in the foreground enhances the stereo depth effect but also emphasises the enormous scale of destruction that is visible. The images are of high technical and artistic quality.
- Wikipedia, Battle of Ypres