Photographic images of war document the darkest moments of human history. More than this, they demand reflection on what it means to be human. If peace is the pinnacle of humanity, war is its nadir. And yet nations have warred since the advent of civilization thousands of years ago.
In fact, contemporary western society, in many respects, emerged from the unprecedented carnage of two world wars. With a final death toll of approximately 60 million people – equivalent to about 3% of the world’s population in 1940 – World War II was the most destructive military conflict in global history.
In Europe, the turning point in World War II came with the Allied invasion of northern France on June 6, 1944. The first day of battle, known as “D-Day” (which is also the general military term for any day of significant attack), pitted 156,000 Allied troops against Nazi forces on the beaches of Normandy.