(This was originally published in 2013; we’ve updated it and run it every Memorial Day ever since.)
One day, more than 10 years ago, Dutch history buff Jo Teeuwisse found a box of negatives on an Amsterdam flea market. There were hundreds of them, images of people and cityscapes from the 1940s. Teeuwisse, who works as a historical consultant for museums and films, decided to look for the actual locations shown in each image.
Teeuwisse then digitally combined the vintage images with modern photos from the same places and posted the best of these manipulated photos online. If you’ve ever felt that history is all around us all the time, these photographic “mash-ups”
Images of struggle and liberation
Most of the original images that Teeuwisse used were made in Veghel, a city in the south of the Netherlands. German troops occupied Veghel in 1940 and in 1944 Allied paratroopers landed. She later went on to digitally manipulate WW2 photos from a collection taken when American troops liberated France and put them on Flicker by Michel Le Querrec, plus others taken in Amsterdam.
Here, American soldiers demolished the sign in front of the German Todt headquarters in Cherbourg.
In the creepy scene below, an American GI runs down the Avenue de Paris in Cherbourg. Debris is piled up against the wall of a building – which is next to a modern bike path.
Teeuwisse writes on her Flickr page:
“I’m making these combination shots now because of my interest in the subject and to try to make people think about the past, remember and respect the sacrifices the generations have made before us.”
Blending past and present
Teeuwisse grew up in an old house in The Hague, so she was used to imagining the past in her everyday environment. Combining the old with the new was a natural idea. She scanned the negatives she found on her computer and took new photos of every street corner, building, or public square.
Then came the hard work of carefully integrating past and present. Teeuwisse, a former film director with an eye for historical accuracy, makes almost seamless digital collages. She subtly indicates with color whether the subject is in the present or from the past.
Teeuwisse’s online photo album, on Flickr, contains the full set of the Ghosts of History images (click here to view it). An image in this collection shows members of the underground press marching in a liberation parade as modern shoppers and tourists stroll by (click to view this image).
A tribute to their sacrifice
And in Basly, France on June 27, 1944, members of the 23rd Field Ambulance, RCAMC, laid flowers on graves. The grave of soldier AJ Barnes is still located in the cemetery of St. George’s Church today, Teeuwisse writes.
Some images remain unidentified. Teeuwisse has made folders of these mysterious photos that show daily life, war and liberation in and around Amsterdam. Click here to take a look. You may see a familiar face from your own past, or just see something to ponder on this Memorial Day.
Click here to visit Teeuwisse’s Ghosts of History Flickr Stream
Photo montages: Jo Teeuwisse
Kate Rix writes about digital media and education.