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Unseen World War I photos: German Trenches

By Dean Putney

The following photos were taken from 1914-1918 by my great-grandfather Lt. Walter Koessler during his time as a German officer in the first World War. They're part of a collection of over a thousand photos, stereographs and their negatives that my family has been saving for a century. This is an unusually large and complete collection, and I've taken on the task of preserving it and printing it so other people can experience this history too.

These photos have never been published before.

Walter's trenches were very well built, but they still couldn't keep out the snow and the rain.

Playing cards next to the garden.

Preparing makeshift mortars. These are grenades on sticks fired at the enemy by a blank round in the rifle.

The images above were all scanned from their original negatives. You can see more of this collection as I scan it on Tumblr. If you're interested in seeing the full collection and helping me preserve it, please support me in making a print copy of the book on Kickstarter.

Walter took advantage of some unique opportunities to capture WWI on film. His photos tell the stories of living in the trenches, visiting home with friends, his work as an aerial reconnaissance photographer and his increasing understanding of the horrors of war. Next week: Walter's exploration of demolished churches.