Impact of War on a 9-Year Old Boy

After Hitler had his forces mercilessly bomb Warsaw, in September of 1939, the city was devastated.

Julien Bryan, an American photographer and film maker, happened to be in the area when the Germans invaded Poland. He had been documenting daily life in Germany, the Soviet Union and Poland between 1935 and 1939.

Among his other works, Bryan filmed a documentary called Siege, about the Siege of Warsaw, as the people of the city endured the relentless German onslaught.

One of the poignant images he captured, in September of 1939, was that of a 9-year Polish lad named Ryszard Pajewski who was sitting on a pile of rubble in the Praga area of Warsaw.

Reflecting on the child, and his circumstances, Bryan gave the image this caption in his book Warsaw: 1939 Siege (which was published, by Doubleday, Doran & Company, in 1940):

A BOY'S WEARINESS: Ryszard Pajewski was a study in dejection when I saw him sitting on a pile of rubble. Only nine, he had suddenly been made the family breadwinner - and there was no bread to be had. Now a truck driver, he remembers that when he saw me last, I was carrying two “boxes” - my cameras.

Pajewski had survived the war, but the devastation of his city and the years of uncertainty had taken their toll on him. Bryan met him, during a return visit to Poland in 1959. He wrote about it in LOOK Magazine’s September 1959 issue:

The spot where nine-year-old Ryszard Pajewski sat atop a pile of rubble in 1939 is now a smooth lawn. But a friend saw my picture of this scene and told Pajewski. He came to see me.

The rubble pile had been near his home, and he had taken time out from a search for food, for his mother and brother, to rest. His father was later taken away by the Nazis, and he never returned. Pajewski, who is divorced, now lives alone outside Warsaw.

Such is the devastation of war ... upon child after child after child ... in war after war after war.

Media Credits

Image, described above, by Julien Bryan taken in September of 1939. The image is now held at Poland's Institute of National Remembrance. Copyright expired.


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"Impact of War on a 9-Year Old Boy" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 31, 2015. Feb 26, 2020.
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