Perspective-Altering Historical Photographs that You Probably Forgot About

By Sophia Maddox | May 11, 2024

Child soldier, Hans-Georg Henke of Germany was just 16 when he was captured by U.S. soldiers. He reacted like any child would … by crying. 

Things aren't always as they seem. This collection of photographs will show you a view of history – its people, places, and events – that offers a different perspective than what we see in our history books. You will see famous people before they were stars, the final moments of some people's lives, fads and trends of the past, and some intriguing slices of life in days gone by. History is full of fascinating little tidbits that make for wonderful stories. All we need to do to find them is to change our perspective.

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As Hans-Georg Henke faced capture by the enemy, he let his emotions flow. (pinterest)

Hans-Georg Henke of Germany had a rough time as a teenager in the 1940s. He father died in 1938 and his mother died in 1944. The 15-year-old was forced to join the Luftwaffe to support his younger siblings. A member of Hitler’s Youth and an anti-aircraft soldier, Henke was trying his best to weather the war and help his family. When Soviet troops advanced on his unit and finally overtook them, young Henke burst into tears. He must have worried about how he would help his family as a prisoner of war, but his tear-streaked face became a symbol for the desperation of the German military, that they would allow children to join. 

Colorized photo of an 11-year-old coal miner in 1908. 

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With the coal industry booming in the late 19th century, corporations were looking for as much cheap labor as possible. At the time there were no laws against hiring children, so if they could hold a pickaxe or shovel then they were put to work digging in the mines. By 1910 there were near 2 million children working in the coal mines, but as the NCLC sent photographers around to capture young tipple boys like this the photos began circulating and people were outraged.

It took a few years before labor laws were enacted, but but 1916 the Child Labor Act was put in place and minimum age requirements were enacted and maximum shift lengths were put in place for young workers.