The Ypres collection

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A collection of eight 6 x 13 cm glass stereoviews shows the destroyed city of Ypres in Flanders, Belgium after the First World War. The photos were taken by an unknown photographer and show images of prominent buildings, of which only the ruins remain. The most remarkable about the series is the presence of a little girl who is alternately accompanied by a man or woman. In some photos she has flowers in her hand. The innocent girl with the flowers is a great contrast to the enormous destruction of the city.

The Battles of Ypres were a series of engagements between the Allies and German forces during the First World War. There were five major battles: the First (1914), Second (1915), Third (also known as Passchendaele, 1917), Fourth (1918), and Fifth (1918). These battles were characterised by their unprecedented scale, the introduction of new military technologies, including the first large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Germans in the Second Battle, and the appalling conditions faced by soldiers. The battles are remembered for the profound loss of life and the enduring legacy of the war’s impact on the Western Front.

The impact on Ypres was catastrophic. The city was almost entirely destroyed, including its medieval cloth hall, a symbol of Ypres’ rich history. Reconstruction after the war was extensive, with buildings like the cloth hall being meticulously restored. Today, Ypres serves as a powerful reminder of the war, hosting numerous memorials and cemeteries that honour those who fought and died.


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