15 February 2012

The Orphan

Every now and then you come across a photo that stops you in your tracks. This is one of those. It's 1945. The little boy in the photo has just survived a German aerial bombing of his home in London. Not only has he lost his home but his parents and brother as well. He's holding a stuffed animal. Did he have it during the raid or did someone hand it to him afterwards? Does he realize what has happened?

The photo was taken by Toni Frissell, the official photographer of the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Among the thousands of images she took were those of orphaned children. Which makes me wonder, what happened to this orphan? I like to think that there were some kind relatives who took him in and that he grew up to have a good life. But I don't really know what happened to him; I don't know if anyone does. And so he remains frozen in time, a small frightened boy among the ruins of war, who continues to break our hearts.

Image from the Toni Frissell Collection at the Library of Congress.

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