31 photos from the Nat Geo archives that capture extraordinary moments in time

See some of the unforgettable images our editor discovered in Nat Geo's historic photography collection.

By Breann Birkenbuel
Published 6 Sept 2021, 11:16 BST, Updated 7 Sept 2021, 12:06 BST

August was an eventful month. This year, we recognised historic events such as the 101st anniversary of the 19th amendment's adoption, which granted American women the right to vote. We also celebrated special holidays, from World Lion Day to World Humanitarian Day. 

For this roundup, I was inspired by photography's ability to help us remember and honour the past, moments both big and small, what's happened this August and in Augusts past. 

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people. Photographer Jodi Cobb captured a somber moment as a crowd honoured the victims 50 years later by laying flowers in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park. (For Hiroshima’s survivors, memories of the bomb are impossible to forget.)

On August 12, the world celebrates World Elephant Day—a holiday dedicated to protecting these vulnerable mammals. Wildlife photographer, Michael “Nick” Nichols, visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Nairobi Elephant Nursery in Kenya, documenting staff caring for a baby elephant whose parents were killed by poachers. (Why Zimbabwe’s female rangers are better at stopping poaching.)

On August 13, 1963 , the Berlin Wall was erected during some of the most tense moments of the Cold War. Photographer Volkmar Wentzel recorded workers beginning construction on the barrier, which would prevent East Germans from emigrating to West Germany and the rest of Western Europe. The Berlin Wall would eventually fall in 1989. (Here's why the Berlin Wall rose—and how it ultimately fell.)

Breann Birkenbuel is the editor for Photo of the Day. Melody Rowell writes and researches the captions.


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