17 Haunting Historical Photos Of Children At Play During Wartime

03/19/2015 04:33 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2015

One of the worst aspects of war is the devastating effect of the fighting on the lives of children. While bearing no responsibility for the conflict, kids nevertheless bear the impact of trauma and violence on an unconscionable scale.

Even today, with international laws and conventions in place to protect the rights of children in conflict, too many kids are still suffering. An estimated 14 million children are currently living through hardship caused by war in Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations.

Conflict threatens not only the health and happiness of the young, but also their ability to experience the feeling of childhood. The photos below show, however, that the desire to play unites children during wartime, across the world and throughout history.

  • Odd Andersen / AFP / Getty Images
    A young boy plays on a tank in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Grbavica, April 22, 1996.
  • Fred Ramage / Getty Images
    Children play on the bomb sites and wrecked tanks in Berlin, in the aftermath of the fighting in the city in 1945.
  • Ashraf Amra / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
    Palestinian children play among the debris of houses, destroyed during Israeli airstrikes, in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Jan. 6, 2015.
  • General Photographic Agency / Getty Images
    London children wear their gas masks as they skip in the park at their temporary homes on the south coast of England in 1940.
  • Halil Fidan / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
    Syrian kids play in a destroyed car in center of the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), Feb. 18, 2015. The town had just been freed from Islamic State forces.
  • Horace Abrahams / Getty Images
    Young girls play with their dolls in a Munich street unhindered by the collection of shells in front of their house.
  • AFP / Getty Images
    Children play on a damaged carousel in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Jan. 8, 2015
  • Fox Photos / Getty Images
    Small children in a playground wearing their gas masks around 1940.
  • Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
    Kids playing in a yard of a destroyed building in the center of the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), on Feb. 18, 2015.
  • Keystone / Getty Images
    Young boys swinging from a lamp post in the midst of rubble left by a bombing raid on London during the Blitz circa 1940.
  • Mohammed Abed / AFP / Getty Images
    Palestinian girls play inside their school which was destroyed during the 50 days of conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, on Nov. 5, 2014.
  • Chales Hewitt / Picture Post / Getty Images
    Children playing in an area of bomb-damaged wasteground in Stepney, in the East End of London, March 9, 1946.
  • Mohammed Abed / AFP / Getty Images
    Palestinian children play on a street in Gaza's northern district of Beit Hanun during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Oct. 4, 2014.
  • Evening Standard / Getty Images
    A U.S. soldier helps some children with their skipping in 1944 in England.
  • AFP / Getty Images
    Palestinian children play next to buildings destroyed during last year's 50 days of war between Israel and Hamas-led militants, in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighborhood, Jan. 27, 2015
  • Fox Photos / Getty Images
    Young daughters of air raid wardens in south-east London practicing first aid with their dolls in WW II on Oct. 6, 1940.
  • AFP / Getty Images
    Afghan children play football near a cemetery on a hilltop in Kabul on April 12, 2014.

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