TIME

Photos From the First Show for US Troops After D-Day

Photos of scantily clad women (and men) performing for battle-weary American troops capture a small, memorable reprieve in Normandy in '44

In late July 1944, LIFE magazine photographer Ralph Morse was on hand for what he called, in his typed notes from the scene, the “first organized entertainment in Normandy” after D-Day. In his photos of scantily clad women (and men) performing for hundreds of battle-weary troops, Morse chronicled a small, memorable reprieve in the midst of the Allied push south, toward Paris.

A handful of Morse’s photos were published in the Aug. 14, 1944, issue of LIFE. Most of the pictures featured in this gallery, meanwhile, never appeared in the magazine.

In that Aug. ’44 issue, LIFE described the scene Morse witnessed at a “rest camp” for the troops:

“While the great breakthrough boiled southward [from Normandy toward Paris] a few U.S. soldiers were taking it easy at rest camps behind the lines. At one of the camps the men were entertained by an eager troupe of French vaudevillians called Les Grandes Tournées d’André Fleury.”

Les Grandes Tournées, it seems, had been organized in Paris three years before, while the capital was under German control. In late May of 1944 they set out from Paris for Cherbourg; on June 5, the day before the invasion, they set up in the ancient town of Carteret. When the Germans pulled in the face of the Allied onslaught, the troupe was stranded, with no food or money.

So when a U.S. Army Special Service officer asked them to put on a show for American troops, they were happy to comply. “They were charging the Germans and French 30 to 60 francs,” Morse wrote in his notes. “Now they get 25 francs a head from the Special Service funds for each soldier at the showings.”

The money, by all accounts, was well-spent.

“The show is old-type vaudeville and plenty of legs,” Morse went on. “A perfect show for the battle-tired troops resting a few days. The girls not understanding English and the troops not understanding French . . . the remarks and wisecracks are terrific. Its value as medicine for the boys is tops. They are completely relaxed . . . and yell and scream to their hearts’ content.”

[WATCH: 'Behind the Picture: Robert Capa's D-Day']

TIME Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s Arkansas: Dignity and Poverty in the Depression

African American Young cotton picker, Arkansas, circa 1935
A young African American Young cotton picker in Arkansas during the Depression. Buyenlarge/Getty Images

A Depression-era photo from Arkansas puts into extraordinary relief the life Maya Angelou led, and the distance she traveled in her time

Born in St. Louis, Mo., on April 28, 1928, the author Maya Angelou grew up in Stamps, Ark., witnessing the racial disharmony that defined the Jim Crow American South of her youth. There she cultivated the dignity and her own brand of quiet strength that would mark her writing and her activism for the rest of her life.

The picture above, of a young African-American cotton picker in an Arkansas field in the mid-1930s, is the sort of tableau that Angelou would certainly have encountered throughout her time in the South: namely, a child in rags, put to hard work at a tender age. The idea that this might well have been Maya Angelou’s fate — and that it was the fate of countless others — puts into stark relief the life she led, and the distance she traveled.

 

TIME

Charting Audacity: D-Day Maps From TIME Magazine

D-Day maps conjure an era when huge forces were on the move, or were stuck in brutal stalemate, all over the globe

One of the most striking features of World War II-era TIME magazines — aside from their marvelous ads — is the prevalence of elaborate illustrations, often bordering on the beautiful. Visually compelling, rich in detail, these graphics — and especially the maps, like those shown here — don’t merely convey data; all these years later, they immediately conjure a singular period in history, when enormous forces were on the move, or were stuck in brutal stalemate, all over the globe.

For film buffs, these maps might conjure the opening sequence from the greatest American wartime movie of them all, Casablanca, with its black-and-white globe spinning away beneath a harsh, nasal, newsreel-toned voiceover. For others, the maps might bring to mind old textbooks from a long-forgotten history class. But whatever associations they spark today, it’s worth recalling that when they were first published, 70 years ago, they were vital, immediate records of an epic military operation that not only was fresh in every TIME reader’s mind, but was still underway, and still costing lives, on the roads and in the fields and villages of Normandy and beyond.

[WATCH: 'Behind the Picture: Robert Capa's D-Day']

TIME

The War After D-Day: Deeper Into Hell

Photos from Saipan, Bastogne, Iwo Jima, Berlin, Nagasaki: places where the war did not stop when Operation Overlord ended

The Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944, was so vast in scope — and so punishingly effective in establishing an Allied beachhead on European soil — that people sometimes forget just how long the war lasted, and how brutal it remained, in both Europe and the Pacific after D-Day. The successes at Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword beaches remain, rightly, among the most celebrated military operations in history — but for more than a year following those landings, the fighting went on, and on, and on in some of the war’s most appalling battles and campaigns.

Hundreds of thousands of Allied and Axis troops and untold thousands more civilian men, women and children died before Japan surrendered in September 1945, finally ending the war that for six years had reshaped the globe. This gallery features photographs — some of them iconic, many of them little-known — from Saipan, Bastogne, Iwo Jima, Berlin, Nagasaki: places where the war did not stop when Operation Overlord ended.

[WATCH: 'Behind the Picture: Robert Capa's D-Day']

TIME Kim Jong Un

Eerily Similar Pictures of Kim Jong Un and Hitler With Adoring Fans

(Left) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a mushroom farm in an undated photo released in July 2013 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA); (right) Adolf Hitler surrounded by adoring Austrian women and girls, 1939. Reuters—KCNA; Hugo Jaeger—The LIFE Picture Collection

When it comes to inspiring equal measures of fear and devotion in his followers, North Korea's 'Great Successor' looks to be more than a match for the Führer

When a number of photographs recently surfaced featuring North Korea’s Kim Jong Un surrounded by weeping, seemingly ecstatic women, we were struck by how weirdly similar those pictures seemed, in almost every respect, to photos made 75 years ago of another monomaniacal despot: Adolf Hitler. The picture of Hitler above was made in Austria in 1939 by the Nazi leader’s personal photographer, Hugo Jaeger, and while it lacks some of the unsettlingly crazed and, at times, comical energy of the Kim photos, both of the pictures capture an expression on the women’s faces that borders — or appears to border — on worshipful.

Of course, there’s always a possibility that the displays of weepy adoration that erupt wherever Kim goes might be sparked by base, primal fear; no one wants to be sent off to an inhuman “re-education” camp simply for not evincing the proper reverence for the ruler of what is arguably the world’s most surreal state.

Whether Kim Jong Un is, as so many now assert, a despot on par with the 20th century’s most infamous tyrant is a question that history’s victors will ultimately decide. But when it comes to inspiring what appears to be equal measures of intense fear and profound devotion in his followers, these pictures — made three-quarters of a century apart — suggest that North Korea’s “Great Successor” is more than a match for the Führer.

TIME D Day

Ruins of Normandy: Portraits From a Post-Invasion Wasteland

Color photos made in northwestern France in the weeks and months after D-Day detail the devastating impact of the invasion and its aftermath

The ruins left behind after warfare speak a language of their own. Even more strikingly, perhaps, no matter where the conflict has taken place —northern Europe or the Pacific, the Middle East or Central Africa — the vernacular of destruction is often the same. Buildings reduced to rubble and dust. A scarred, tortured landscape nearly devoid of life, aside from small human forms trying to piece it back together. Twisted, rusting steel. Burned, abandoned vehicles. And always, above it all, the indifferent sky.

These color photographs made in northwest France by LIFE photographer Frank Scherschel — most of which never ran in LIFE — detail the devastating impact of the Normandy invasion and its aftermath. The impulse behind building this gallery, meanwhile, is really no more complicated than this: to commemorate the Allied troops who fought and died; to honor those who fought and lived; and to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day by remembering what happened to countless towns — and townspeople — in France and around the globe when a world war unleashed hell in the midst of their lives.

[WATCH: 'Behind the Picture: Robert Capa's D-Day']

TIME

Fighting Words: Long-Winded (and Stunning) Wartime Magazine Ads

American magazine ads from the 1940s referenced World War II, obliquely or directly, to an extent that is utterly mind-boggling today

In elemental ways, magazines have not really changed all that much in the past, say, 75 years or so. A striking cover image; some snappy cover lines; a number of articles, some long, some short; and all of the editorial “content,” whether words or photos, surrounded by ads — which, of course, along with subscriptions, help pay the bills and keep the issues coming, week after week, month after month.

In other respects, though, the magazines of three-quarters of a century ago could not have been more different than today’s.

For example: take a look at those ads that we just mentioned. In almost any World War II-era issue of any magazine, you’ll notice two striking characteristics of the ads that differentiate them from those in most contemporary publications. First, there are all those words. Scores, sometimes even hundreds of words, as if the copywriters had been instructed not to get the point across as succinctly and memorably as possible, but to compose a kind of rhetorical argument — or maybe weave a short story — around why the reader should buy a particular cigarette, tire or light bulb.

Second, almost without exception, the ads one encountered in the midst of WWII referenced the conflict, obliquely or directly, to an extent that is mind-boggling today. Anyone seeking proof that the war effort of the 1940s permeated every aspect of everyday American life need only consider magazine ads of the time. From the makers of pens to booze to cars, anyone who was selling anything found a way to tie their product to the fight against the Axis.

Here, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, are 10 examples of ads from TIME in June 1944 — ads that illustrate the era’s intricate nexus of commerce, patriotism and warfare as clearly, and as candidly, as we’re ever likely to see.

[WATCH: 'Behind the Picture: Robert Capa's D-Day']

TIME

Before and After D-Day: Color Photos From England and France

Masterfully restored color photos from England and France in 1944 feel at-once profoundly familiar and utterly, vividly new

It’s no mystery why images of unremitting violence spring to mind when one hears the deceptively simple term, “D-Day.” We’ve all seen — in photos, movies and old news reels, most of them routinely presented in suitably grim black-and-white — what happened on the beaches of Normandy (codenamed Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword) as the Allies unleashed their historic assault against German defenses on June 6, 1944. The fury of the monumental attack was matched only by the ferocity of the sustained, withering counterstrike.

But in color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE magazine’s Frank Scherschel captured countless other, lesser-known scenes from the run-up to the onslaught and the heady weeks after: American troops training in small English towns; the French countryside, implausibly lush after the spectral landscape of the beachheads; the reception GIs enjoyed en route to the capital; the jubilant liberation of Paris itself.

As presented here, in masterfully restored color, Scherschel’s pictures — most of which were never published in LIFE — feel at-once profoundly familiar and somehow utterly, vividly new.

Finally: Information on specific locations or people in these photographs is not always available; Scherschel and his colleagues did not always provide that data for every one of the many thousands of pictures they made throughout the war. When a locale or person depicted is known, that is noted in the caption.

[WATCH: 'Behind the Picture: Robert Capa's D-Day']

TIME World War II

Inside Hitler’s Bunker: Capturing an Eerie Chaos Beneath Berlin

Photos made after the Fall of Berlin illuminate the sordid underworld where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun died

+ READ ARTICLE

Not long after Red Army troops won the brutal Battle of Berlin in the spring of 1945, effectively marking the end of the Second World War in Europe, LIFE magazine photographer William Vandivert descended into Adolf Hitler’s bunker beneath the ruined city. Soviet troops had already ransacked the subterranean warren — including the room where Hitler and his wife of 48 hours, Eva Braun, killed themselves on April 30 — leaving behind scenes of silent, chaotic upheaval masterfully chronicled by Vandivert in haunting black and white.

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