Not a Step Back: Images from World War 2's Brutal Eastern Front

Illustration for article titled Not a Step Back: Images from World War 2s Brutal Eastern Front

The Allies ultimately won World War 2, of course, but at great cost. Nowhere is this more true than the great 1,000-mile Eastern Front, where German and Soviet forces mixed battle, bloodshed and war crimes in equal mix.


Torture, executions and other atrocities were employed by both sides, although it is perhaps Stalin's notorious "Not a Step Back!" order that stands out as one of the most heinous acts ever committed by one nation on its own troops. For the unaware, this order required a Russian rearguard be in place to shoot any Soviet trooper that attempted to retreat from battle.

Lastly, the image above. You'd be forgiven for thinking the image was of Nagasaki or Hiroshima after the bombs fell there. It is in fact Stalingrad, reduced to rubble after six months of war, as seen in 1943.


A quick note to conclude: These images from the Eastern Front are from a 20-part In Focus photography series on World War 2. As I've done these past few weeks, I encourage you to check out the rest, and reflect. [In Focus]

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The maximum punishment for desertion in America is still death. It doesn't happen often, the last case was of a WWII deserter in 1945. Usually it results in imprisonment, but still, the penalty is there. You can also be put to death for disobeying orders and other such things during a time of war.