The Royal Air Force reconnaissance photos taken during the war show the effect of wartime bombing on more than 35 European towns and cities.
The imagery for Warsaw is starkest, as the aerial pictures are available from both years 1935 and 1945 and clearly show the devastation of the city. The polish city’s infamous Jewish ghetto can clearly be made out. The Royal Castle was also completely burned to the ground by the Nazis in 1939 can also be seen reconstructed, between 1971-1988 (picture).
Other cities users can view on the project include Stuttgart, which was subject to over 50 air raids during the War, Naples which was the most bombed in Italian city in WWII and the centre of France's resistance movement at Lyon.
On its Latlong blog, Laura Scott of Google Europe says: “We hope that this World War II imagery will enable all of us to understand our shared history in a new way and to learn more about the impact of the war on the development of our cities. They remind 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.”
To access all the historical images, and compare to the present day cityscape, users can click the clock icon in the top-level toolbar to activate a time-line in the Google Earth display. Moving the time slider from left to right lets the user jump through the years.