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Before-and-after photos via Amos Chapple show how Budapest was rebuilt after the destruction of World War II

Amazing before-and-after photos show how Budapest was rebuilt 75 years after the destruction of World War II

  • Soviet and Romanian troops besieged Budapest from Boxing Day 1944 to February 13, 1945 for 50 days
  • The fighting was extremely tough – and some 38,000 civilians in the city were killed
  • These amazing before-and-after photos show how the city has been transformed into an urban gem
  • WARNING: Some images contain scenes that may be disturbing to some

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The battle of Budapest at the end of World War II lasted 50 days.

Soviet and Romanian troops besieged the Hungarian capital and the outnumbered Hungarian and German troops from December 26, 1944 to the surrender on February 13, 1945. About 38,000 civilians were killed in the fighting.

These remarkable before-and-after photos show that the city was left in ruins – then rebuilt into one of the jewels of Eastern Europe. The locations captured in the black and white images – courtesy of the Fortepan archive – in photos by photographer Amos Chapple, commissioned by www.rferl.org, to show how they were transformed between 1945 and 2020.

Amos, originally from New Zealand but now living in Prague, told MailOnline Travel: “I love digging through photo archives and Fortepan is one of the best. When I saw the pictures of Budapest in ruins after the war, I just blew through – I had no idea. A story is being sold to young people now that the Western world has broken. I remember taking these photos, looking at the grim archive photo on my hand, and at the glorious modern city of today and just figuring out how wrong and – to be honest – how thankless that is. We are incredibly lucky to live on this continent right now. ‘

He added, “To me, the most moving picture is the shot of the Fisherman’s Bastion that overlooks the city and shows the extent of its destruction. Hungarians had fought and murdered with modern-day Russia along with the Nazis, so the Red Army’s advance was truly a wave of revenge backed by Allied air forces. This was massive revenge. I think that picture really reflects the brutality of the war in Central Europe. ‘

Scroll down to see the fascinating photos. Warning – the images contain scenes that may be disturbing to some.

The Szechenyi chain bridge has received a lot of attention in modern popular culture - it even appears in Katy Perry's video for the hit Firework

The 19th-century Szechenyi chain bridge over the Danube was blown up by retreating Nazis, then rebuilt and reopened in 1949. It has made a heavy appearance in modern popular culture – it even appears in Katy Perry’s video for the hit Firework

The destroyed Szechenyi chain bridge, this time from a wider perspective
Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, the bridge is today one of the most eye-catching sights in Budapest

The destroyed Szechenyi chain bridge, this time from a wider perspective. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, the bridge is today one of the most eye-catching sights in Budapest

This remarkable archive photo shows the temporary pontoon bridges that spanned the Danube after the war following the destruction of the city bridges by Nazi-led troops
Today Budapest has 14 major bridges

This remarkable archive photo shows the temporary pontoon bridges that spanned the Danube after the war after the destruction of the city’s bridges by Nazi-led troops. Today, the city has 14 major bridges

Buda Castle was the last major stronghold of the Nazi and Hungarian troops. Before the siege of the Red Army, the Nazis landed planes and gliders on nearby roads and in the adjacent park, but this became impossible when the Soviets began firing artillery fire at the area. The main entrance to the castle was destroyed - and never rebuilt
Today Buda Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Buda Castle was the last major stronghold of the Nazi and Hungarian troops. Before the Red Army siege, the Nazis landed planes and gliders on nearby roads and in the adjacent park, but this became impossible when the Soviets began firing artillery fire at the area. The main entrance to the castle was destroyed – and never rebuilt. Today Buda Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The 11th-century Matthias Church, which was severely damaged during the fighting
Restoration work was finally completed in 1984

The 11th-century Matthias Church, which was severely damaged during the fighting. Restoration work was finally completed in 1984

The archive photo shows soldiers of the Red Army in front of the destroyed Elisabeth Bridge, which spans the narrowest part of the Danube
The Elisabeth Bridge was rebuilt between 1961 and 1964 by the ruling communist part 'without flowering', says Amos.

The archive photo shows soldiers of the Red Army in front of the destroyed Elisabeth Bridge, which spans the narrowest part of the Danube. It was rebuilt, says Amos, by the ruling communist section between 1961 and 1964 without flourishing

Some of the ornate flowers on Buda Castle have been left to shreds by war
The ornate flowers of Buda Castle have been completely restored

Some of the ornate flowers on Buda Castle have been left to shreds by war. As the photo of Amos in 2020 shows, stonemasons have restored them to their former glory

Triumphant troops of the Red Army march through the center of Budapest
Seventy-five years ago, this location had a completely different feel

Red Army triumphant troops marching through the center of Budapest in a spot that is now a major transportation hub

Ruined residential buildings near Buda Castle
The battle of Budapest at the end of World War II lasted 50 days

Ruined residential buildings near Buda Castle. The battle of Budapest at the end of World War II lasted 50 days

About 38,000 civilians in Budapest were killed in the fighting

About 38,000 civilians in Budapest were killed in the fighting. Hungary had joined Germany and many of its soldiers committed atrocities. Amos said: “The advance of the Red Army was really a wave of revenge”

Amos describes this archive image as 'the most moving' to him, because it shows the extent of the destruction
This photo was taken from the Fisherman's Bastion monument

For him, Amos describes this archive image as ‘the most moving’ because it shows the extent of the destruction

A shop burns as Soviet and Romanian troops burst into the city

A shop burns as Soviet and Romanian troops burst into the city. Amos said: “When I saw the pictures of Budapest in ruins after the war, I just blew through”

Amos said, 'I remember taking these photos, looking at the grim archive photo on my hand and looking at the glorious modern city of today and just figuring out how ... we're incredibly lucky at this moment to continent to live '
Budapest is formed by Obuda, Buda and Pest

Amos said, ‘I remember taking these photos, looking at the grim archive photo on my hand and looking at the glorious modern city of today and just figuring out how … we’re incredibly lucky to have continent. ‘ Budapest is formed by Obuda, Buda and Pest

The archive photo here shows a dead German soldier on Kalvin Ter in central Budapest
Kalvin Ter in the center of Budapest in 2020

The archive photo here shows a dead German soldier on Kalvin Ter in central Budapest. Today the scene is in total contrast

Buda Castle, on the left, along with other seriously damaged buildings
Buda Castle today - in all its majesty

Buda Castle, on the left, along with other seriously damaged buildings. Today’s scene is utterly majestic

Buda Castle - also known as the Royal Palace - is in ruins
Buda Castle was listed as a heritage site by UNESCO in 1987

Buda Castle – also known as the Royal Palace – is in ruins. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987

  • Click for more information about Hungary’s role in the Holocaust here.

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