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Old 5th February 2010, 19:42
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Google Earth to show wartime images

Royal Air Force reconnaissance photos taken during the Second World War of 39 war-torn European cities are now available online, Google said.The wartime images of cities such as Berlin, Bordeaux, Hamburg, Cologne and Dresden were uploaded to the Google Earth mapping software and clearly show the destruction of allied bombing raids.The most striking comparison can be traced through the historic photos of Warsaw from 1935 to the present day. The Polish capital was heavily destroyed and the city's infamous ghetto - the largest in Nazi-occupied Europe - can be clearly seen. A slider bar at the top of the screen allows viewers to jump backwards and forwards in time, tracing the most destructive period in European history. For example, users can track the post-war reconstruction of Warsaw's historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Most notably the Royal Castle of Warsaw, which was razed by German bombers in 1939, was carefully rebuilt to its former glory in 1988. Google technologist Ed Parsons said: "Many of us have heard stories, read books and watched films which show the many impacts of the Second World War across the world.

"By enabling people to compare then with now, in such a simple way, it reminds us all of the devastating impact of war on the people in those cities and also the remarkable way in which urban environments are reconstructed and regenerated over time."

Jan Odakowski, director of the Warsaw Rising museum, said the Google Earth tool could be a valuable teaching aid for primary and secondary school history students. He said: "It allows us to observe the complex processes which took place throughout the whole of Europe and to realise how far we have come since those days."

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Larry Hayward
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