Its title was mirthless: “Es gibt keinen jüdischen Wohnbezirk in Warschau mehr!” (The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more!); while it was an official dossier laden with bureaucratese that numbed and insulated the Nazis for the enormity of their actions, it also was a souvenir album for Himmler. Only three copies were made, all recovered after the war, and photographs they held within them were used at Nuremberg Trials.
Among them was one of the best-known pictures of the war, titled, “Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs”: the photo of a young boy with his hands up (his identity since been disputed) being driven from the Warsaw ghetto. Since its first publication in a Polish persecutor’s report in 1948, the photo has served as a touchstone for everyone from Elie Wiesel to Susan Sontag to revisionist ranters on the web. Although other people in the photo were accurately identified, the identity of the young boy was never conclusively proved. The photo was probably taken by Franz Konrad, the Nazi photographer and aide to Jürgen Stroop who oversaw the liquidation of the ghetto and wrote that mirthless report. Both Konrad and Stroop were executed for war crimes.
Nearly 400,000 Jewish men, women and children had been sealed into the Ghetto in 1940 – the prelude to the Final Solution, which murdered almost all of Poland’s three million Jews. The children played an important role inside the Ghetto; they begged everywhere, in the Ghetto as well as on the ‘Aryan’ side. Six-year-old boys crawled through the barbed wire under the very eyes of the gendarmes in order to obtain food. Often a solitary gunshot in the distance told that another little smuggler had died in his fight.