Lancaster man uncovers “treasure trove” of post-war Germany pictures

Harry Thurgar's photo shows a bombed out Stuttgart after World War 2
Harry Thurgar's photo shows a bombed out Stuttgart after World War 2

A treasure trove of photos from post-war Germany has been discovered by a Lancaster man whose grandfather visited the country in 1946.

Christopher Eve took the 10 reels of film to Max Spielmann in Penny Street to be developed, and was “awed” by the images he discovered.

Photo Neil Cross
Chris Eve has developed photos of bombed out Germany after WW2, taken by his grandfather

Photo Neil Cross Chris Eve has developed photos of bombed out Germany after WW2, taken by his grandfather

Mr Eve’s grandfather Harry Thurgar was the founder and managing director of Thurgar Bolle Ltd, a Northamptonshire-based plastics and comb manufacturer.

After the war ended, he was appointed by the Board of Trade to visit Germany as part of the Allied Control Council, to conduct a survey of the German comb industry.

He visited the country in May and June 1946, which included stops in Hanover, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Weissenberg, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Weisbaden and Frankfurt.

Mr Eve says he has no idea whether the 71-year-old films have ever been developed.

Harry Thurgar near Herford in post war Germany.

Harry Thurgar near Herford in post war Germany.

He said: “When I first saw the photos I was awed.

“Being 71 years old, they are truly a historical treasure-trove.

“The wreckage, as seen in the photos, was so immense and I pity the poor people who had to endure it.

“It’s chilling to realise that there would have been many bodies buried underneath all that rubble.

Hamburg after the war.

Hamburg after the war.

“It was my father’s Bomber Command comrades and those of the USAAF who caused all that devastation, as part of the effort to defeat the evil Nazi regime.

“The following winter (1946-47) was particularly harsh and living conditions were extremely difficult.

“Thousands of people died from cold and hunger in Germany.

“The photos also gave me a window into a period of my grandfather’s life which I only dimly knew about.”

Post war Frankfurt

Post war Frankfurt

The total collection comprises around 350 photos from 10 reels of 35 mil negatives. Mr Eve said the trip to Germany was a small part of the Allied powers’ intelligence gathering work after the war.

He added: “Fortunately, the negatives were labelled and from an HMSO publication of the time, which I have inherited, it is possible to date and place each photograph fairly accurately.”

He said: “The four-man team, led by my grandfather, were required to wear army uniforms with grandpa given the honorary rank of Colonel. Over a period of four weeks, the investigators visited 30 firms situated in the British, American and French zones of occupation.

“These firms included actual comb makers, manufacturers of raw materials, comb making plant and tools and dyes.

“The team formed the general impression that no revolutionary developments in technique, or machinery, had taken place during the war, and in the main, the methods of production were similar to the usual British methods.”

Thurgar Bolle’s original factory in Alperton, Middlesex, had been bombed during the Luftwaffe’s Blitz during the winter of 1940-41.

A factory in Cologne, after World War 2.

A factory in Cologne, after World War 2.

During the War, it was requisitioned to make perspex canopies for fighter and bomber aircraft, the plastic elements for bomb sights on the Wellington bomber and the plastic parts for early radar.

The remains of Cologne's main Hohenzollern railway bridge over the Rhine

The remains of Cologne's main Hohenzollern railway bridge over the Rhine

Munich.

Munich.

Cologne cathedral after the war

Cologne cathedral after the war