This is what purposefully killing civilians in war looks like


78 years ago today…

American documentary filmmaker and photographer Julien Bryan comforts a ten-year-old Polish girl named Kazimiera Mika, whose older sister was killed in a field near Jana Ostroroga Street in Warsaw during a German air raid on September 13 1939.

In the words of photographer Julien Bryan, “As we drove by a small field at the edge of town we were just a few minutes too late to witness a tragic event, the most incredible of all. Seven women had been digging potatoes in a field. There was no flour in their district, and they were desperate for food. Suddenly two German planes appeared from nowhere and dropped two bombs only two hundred yards away on a small home. Two women in the house were killed. The potato diggers dropped flat upon the ground, hoping to be unnoticed. After the bombers had gone, the women returned to their work. They had to have food.

But the planes were not satisfied with their work. In a few minutes they came back and swooped down to within two hundred feet of the ground, this time raking the field with machine-gun fire. Two of the seven women were killed. The other five escaped somehow.

While I was photographing the bodies, a little ten-year old girl came running up and stood transfixed by one of the dead. The woman was her older sister. The child had never before seen death and couldn’t understand why her sister would not speak to her…

Photo credit :Julien Bryan (colorized by Jared Enos)

The child looked at us in bewilderment. I threw my arm about her and held her tightly, trying to comfort her. She cried. So did I and the two Polish officers who were with me…”

Source: Bryan, Julien. “Warsaw: 1939 Siege; 1959 Warsaw Revisited.” Warsaw, Polonia, 1959, pp.20-21.]

Photographer Julien Bryan lived until 1974 and Kazimiera Mika was still alive in 2010. If she is still alive today she would be eight-eight years old.

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