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These Haunting Pictures Show WWII Through a Soldier's Eyes -- and They Were Almost Lost Forever

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"I exist, and these moments were important to me."

Image via Vimeo

They show World War II through the eyes of an ordinary soldier, shipped here and there on trains, waiting with comrades, trekking the dangerous expanse of occupied Europe.

The world almost never got to see them.

Photographer Levi Bettwieser, founder of The Rescued Film Project, discovered a lot of 31 undeveloped film rolls at an Ohio auction late last year.

He knew he'd gotten his hands on something rare — but he also knew odds were good that the film had been destroyed by water, mishandling or plain old age.

Image via Vimeo/The Rescued Film Project

Still, with the dedication of a die-hard preservationist, Bettwieser went to painstaking lengths to document and develop the film.

His efforts paid off.

"I pop the first one open...and that's when I'm just amazed at what I see," Bettwieser recalled.

Scores of images, never before seen, were preserved on the film, showing scenes from throughout World War II — troops aboard ships, captured German tanks, and most of all, scenes from the daily grind of Allied forces moving through Europe.

Image via Vimeo/The Rescued Film Project

Image via Vimeo/The Rescued Film Project

Image via Vimeo/The Rescued Film Project

Image via Vimeo/The Rescued Film Project

Image via Vimeo/The Rescued Film Project

The haunting photos have both historical and personal value, Bettwieser said, as each photo is a photographer's way of saying, "I exist, and these moments were important to me."

For 70 years, the images on those rolls of film were ignored, never developed or seen by the photographer who took them or the men who posed for them but now, they're being shared with the world.

Watch Bettwieser's whole process — and see more of the newly revealed photos — in the video below:

Learn more about The Rescued Film Project, which works to connect old photos with the original photographers and publicize lost historic work, here.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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