KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new exhibit at a Kansas City museum documents the destruction during World War I captured in a series of jarring and sometimes unidentifiable photographs and illustrations.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial opened the exhibit called “Devastated Lands” last month, the Kansas City Star reported. The collection of photographs and illustrations shows battered landscapes along the Western Front that look akin to an uninhabited planet, according to the museum.
One photo shows a bombed cathedral in Reims, France, where French kings were once crowned. An illustration depicts soldiers’ graves. Another photo shows a devastated street in Varennes, France.
Some of the photos were taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, though many are unknown with vague titles such as “Ruined town.”
“That’s all we know,” said Doran Cart, the museum’s senior curator. “A lot of times the photographers didn’t even know where they were, from one village to the next. Even the town signs ceased to exist.”
In its introduction of the exhibit, the museum said, “The deadly legacy of the war is still with us.”
Tens of thousands of soldiers were maimed or killed in trench warfare on the Western Front during the war that began in 1914. European farmers continue to find still-lethal ammunition and objects from the war in their soil. It’s estimated that it could take an additional 100 years to find and remove all of the dangerous remnants of World War I and the following global conflict, according to the museum’s website.