About 70 years ago, an unknown soldier in WWII shot 31 rolls of photo film documenting his experiences during his service. Now, Levi Bettweiser, a collector and restorer of old and historical photos, has discovered and rescued them from being lost forever.
Bettweiser, who works with the Rescued Film Project, discovered the undeveloped film at an auction in Ohio. Some had been damaged by water and rust, so he wasn’t sure what to expect; “There is a large possibility that I might not recover a single image from any of these rolls of film;” he said. But the film photography processing work, which he did in his own kitchen, paid off: “When I pulled the film that I had just developed out of my film development tank and look at them, I’m the very first person that has ever seen that interesting photo.”
To see what black and white photos this unknown soldier captured many years ago, and to hear Bettweiser’s story in his own words, read on below – and be sure to check out his answers to our questions!
“The rescued WWII film is truly unique from anything else we’ve rescued so far, which currently is over 5,500 vintage photos and counting,” Levi Bettweiser told Bored Panda. “But I think the fact that these images are documenting a large historical event that impacted so many people really creates a sense of intrigue with anyone viewing them”
“We acquired the 31 rolls at a live Auction in Ohio. They were inside a large ziplock style plastic bag. I could see that many were hand-labeled which is always a draw when it comes to old photo film”
“We’ve been receiving a ton of information about the locations in which the photos were taken because those are hard facts that you can research. But when it comes to who the photographer as we have much less to go on”
“It’s interesting to us that many of the images are taken outside of whatever respective scene being shot”
“The photographer doesn’t really seem to be interacting with whatever the action is. Almost as if they’re some sort of journalist documenting significant moments. We’ve had some research suggesting that the images could be the documentation of the return home trip of several POW’s”
“We feel that we are at a tipping point when it comes to photo restoration. Every day that passes, we are losing images. So we really advocate for everyone to become a rescuer to make sure these moments in history aren’t lost forever. We accept film contributions and process all film for free”
The story in Levi Bettweiser’s own words:
The photos he found:
We’d like to thank Levi Bettweiser and the Rescued Film Project for talking to us about this extraordinary discovery. We wish them luck with the rest of their important work!
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