A German soldier took this photograph. Jew in occupied Europe had to wear identifying badges. Notice the Jews here are walking in the street and not on the side walk. Regulations in some countries prohibited them from walking on sidewalks. This photograph was taken in June 1942 as the gas chambers were becoming operational. I'm not sure where. The background looks more like Romania than Germany. but pergaps our European reades will help identify it. The actual killing took place on a different killing in different parts of the NAZI empire. This scene suggests to us that the repression of the Jews was clearly underway, but the killing had not yet begun,
We do not know much about the photograph here, but we know it was taken by a German soldier.
We do know when it was taken, June 1942.
The NAZI Holocaust was well underway in June 1942. The NAZI Einsatzgruppen with local assistance had by this time murdered most of the Jews in eastern Poland, the Baltics, and the western Soviet Union. The Jews in western Poland had been confined to ghettos. Elsewhere in the NAZI empire theJews had been forced to wear various star od David badges, robbed of their property, prevented from working, and subjected to various restrictions such as using street cars or walking on side walks. This is the stage of the Holocaust here. Tragically just at this time the NAZIs had completed the gas chambers and transports to the death camps set up in Poland were beginning.
We are not at all sure where this photograph was taken. It does not look like Germany to us. Nor does it look like Western Europe. We would say some place in Eastern Europe. As the Jews in the Baltics had mostly been killed and the Polish Jews were in ghettos, this narrows down the possibilities. We think somewhere in Hungary, or Romania or Slovakia are the most likely. It is not Bulgaria as the Jews there were not forced to wear large stars like the ones here. Perhaps the church architecture will be more familiar to some of our readers. One point of confusion here is what seems to be as a reader points out, rubble in the background. The War in 1942 had not yet been fought in these countries (Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania). Thus it may well be somewhere else.
A Dutch reader writes, "I don't think the picture was taken in Romania. The people there are overwhelmingly Greek-Orthodox and their churches look different. This church seems to be Roman Catholic.
Of course Romania has a large Hungarian Catholic minority and a smaller German Lutheran
one, but I believe that we have here a scene from Poland or Lithuania, perhaps Czechoslovakia. What puzzles me are the rubbles of a destroyed building in the background. It looks if there had been some street fighting, otherwise a bomb attack from the air? But in 1942? That was when Nazi Germany was at the height of its power when their troops were close to Moscow. I see some old streetcars in the distance, transportation Jews were not allowed to use, so they had to walk. I wonder what happened to the boy and the two women. I believe there was no escape. By wearing the star of David they were doomed. I remember seeing several Jews in Holland during the German occupation who were wearing the star on their clothes. In the beginning they were seen on their bicycles and in streetcars and buses. Some people would offer their seats to them. One day they were all gone...." Our reader adds, "I had to look at this picture again, and again. You might be right assuming that it was taken in Hungary, because the three uniformed men on the sidewalk look like policemen. They are too far away to determine what kind of uniform they are wearing.
The person who is standing between the rails also wears a uniform, but that seems to be different. I believe all the people are local, including the Jews. Some women in the background seem to be carrying shopping bags. They perhaps are waiting for the streetcar to stop? The churchtower is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture."
A British reader writes, "The boy weems to be well dressed. The coat he is wearing is perhaps getting a little smallbut he is a growing boy. Pity we do not know who he is other than his faith. Take the star away and we would not know that."
Another reader writes, "I just do not want to give up until I am 90 percent certain that the picture was taken in Hungary. I explored the web and I found a very good picture of guys in Hungarian Arrow Cross uniforms. Even if it is difficult to see I believe the three men are wearing the same uniform. The Arrow Cross party was a fascist movement in Hungary. Has done a lot of harm."
A British reader writes, "It is the ordinariness of the scene here that strikes me. The boy casually walking with coat unbuttoned. Maybe eating something. A toy or something is fastened around his neck. The feel of a contented child with a life ahead. Could have been an every day image of childhood.
Except the forces of evil that he can not cimprehend are closing in around him. First the wearing of the star, then walking in the road and so on. A moving image."
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