Photos from the past

Below we present several photo stories that illustrate NATO’s early history.

The first is a collage of pictures showing women soldiers serving in NATO commands. The second consists of images of West Berlin in the 1950s. The third records a joint NATO military exercise including the Greek and Turkish armies after their accession to the Alliance in 1952. The fourth portrays scenes of life in Lapland, an ethnic region straddling the Arctic north of Europe.

A minimum of comment accompanies these photo stories. We believe that the images speak for themselves.


Women in Uniform

This photo story captures the diverse roles of NATO’s women soldiers who worked in NATO military commands. Judging from their faces, one believes that they proudly served their nations and NATO’s collective defense.

Divided Berlin

By the late-1950s, the city of Berlin had regained a measure of its pre-war culture and majesty, although many problems remained – most prominently the city’s Cold War division. One detects in these photos the fears of the era, and a sense of hope.

Greece and Turkey Host NATO Exercise

Following their accession to NATO in 1952, Greece and Turkey hosted their first joint NATO military exercise in 1953.

Lapland: Cold War Border, Home of Santa Claus

Situated in Europe’s Arctic north, the ethnic region of Lapland is home to the Sami people, one of the continent’s oldest indigenous populations. In Norway, this region falls within the province of Finnmark. For many Europeans, Lapland was the traditional home of Santa Claus. It was also one of the few NATO territorial borders shared with the Soviet Union. These photos give a flavor of the ancient land where native peoples, Cold War tensions, and reindeer-guided sleds met in peace.

Activation of the Luftwaffe 1956

The Allied Control Commission officially disbanded the German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, in August 1946. Soon the Cold War began in earnest, and the threat posed by the Soviet Union led to an Allied-led rehabilitation of German military strength. West Germany joined NATO in 1955, leading to the activation of the Bundesluftwaffe, or West German Federal Air Force. In following decades, the Bundesluftwaffe mostly equipped itself with US-designed aircraft manufactured locally under license.

SATCOM is launched

On 20 March 1970, NATO successfully launched its first communications satellite (SATCOM) from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In 1984, another satellite, the Delta SATCOM, was subsequently put into orbit.