The above photo is one of the most iconic images of the Holocaust. Whilst the identity of the German SS man
pointing the machine gun is known, that of the little boy is not, although some of the other people captured in this
photograph have been identified.
The photo was included in the infamous “Stroop Report – The Warsaw Ghetto no longer exists.”
See extracts from Richard Raskin
's book A Child at Gunpoint
1. The Boy in the Photo
There are four possible identities for the little boy held at gunpoint.
1.1. Artur Dab Siemiatek
This was advanced as early as 1950
, but documentation was first found in
1977 - 78
One source was responsible for making the claim, a woman named
, who was a resident of Warsaw
According to a statement she signed on 24 January 1977
, the boy in the photograph
was named Artur Siemiatek
born in Lowicz
He was the son of Leon Siemiatek
and Sara Dab
and the grandson of the signatory’s brother, Josef Dab
A similar attestation was signed the following year in Paris
’s husband, Henryk Piasecki
dated 28 December 1978
1.2. Tsvi Nussbaum
, a 47 year old ear, nose, and throat specialist in
Rockland County, New York
came forward with the statement that in 1943
, at the age of seven, he had been arrested in
and ordered to raise his hands by an SS man standing in front of him and
aiming a gun at him. Although he could not recall that a photograph was taken, Dr.
believed that he might
be the child in the picture.
expressed uncertainty that he was the boy in the photo, whilst
others say that it is him. There are indeed two specific factors that weigh heavily against him being that boy.
The first is that although he was arrested in Warsaw
, he had never set foot
in the ghetto. The second is the date he was arrested. Tsvi Nussbaum
clearly remembers that he was arrested on 13 July 1943
. This was nearly two
months after the "Stroop Report" is thought to have been completed and sent to
In the early 1930’s Nussbaum
emigrated from Poland to Palestine,
was born in 1935
. When conflict
broke out between the
Jews and Arabs in Palestine, the Nussbaum
family returned to
Poland, settling in Sandomierz
By 1942 Tsvi Nussbaum
’s parents had been
murdered by the Nazis,
and he was brought from Sandomiercz
to live with an aunt and uncle,
in hiding, in the Aryan section of Warsaw
. They looked after him for six months,
but were caught in a Gestapo
trap. The Nussbaums
hundreds of other desperate Jews at the Hotel Polski
and were put on the
Palestine list. On 13 July 1943
, trucks came to take them away, not to Palestine,
but to the KZ Bergen Belsen
. At the concentration camp they were
housed together in a special barrack, given better food and not forced to work.
If the boy in the photo is Tsvi Nussbaum
, then the picture would have
to have been taken at the Hotel Polski
, and not within the Warsaw Ghetto
where all of the photos from the "Stroop Report" are generally thought to have been taken.
Dr. Lucjan Dobroszycki
was quoted in a New York Times
expressing doubts about whether Tsvi Nussbaum
is the boy in
the photo, for the reasons set out below:
"The scene," he noted, "is on a street, not in the courtyard in which the
Hotel Polski roundup took place. Some of the Jews are wearing armbands that they surely
would have shed while in the Aryan quarter of Warsaw. The German
soldiers would not have needed combat uniforms at the hotel. The heavy clothing worn
by most of the Jews suggests that the photograph was taken in May – the date
General Stroop put on the report – rather than
July. Moreover every
other photograph in the "Stroop Report" was taken in the Warsaw Ghetto.
"I am not claiming anything – there’s no reward. I didn’t ask for this
honour. I think it’s me, but I can’t honestly swear to it. A million and a half Jewish children
were told to raise their hands.
Finally, with the help of someone trained in photo-comparison, Dr. K.R. Burns
a forensic anthropologist at the University of Georgia, compared the famous
photo, with a passport photo of Tsvi Nussbaum
, and stated the following:
"Having examined the two photographs, although the
mouth, nose and cheek are consistent, there is one important disparity; the ear lobes on the
1943 boy appear to be attached, whereas the earlobes of the
boy are not attached. This generic trait cannot change with age and the difference
indicates the pictures are not of the same boy.
of the former Hotel Polski
29 Dluga Street
has been compared to the 1943
photo, but it is difficult to see whether it is the same building.
1.3. Levi Zelinwarger
, aged 95, contacted the Ghetto Fighters House
in Israel in late 1999
. He informed the museum that the boy in the photograph was his son
. As a result of that contact, the following information now
accompanies the well known photograph, in the GFH archives:
According to the testimony of Abraham Zelinwarger
, the boy is his son Levi
1932 - ?
and he suggests that the photograph
was taken in the ghetto on Kupiecka Street
. The father, a ladies hairdresser by profession,
worked at forced labour clearing rubble and damage at a burned out gas installation in
, and escaped to Soviet territory at the beginning of
was telephoned by Richard
, who was then told that the woman next to the boy is the boy’s mother,
believed that his wife, his 11 year old son
, and his 9 year old daughter Irina
all perished in a concentration camp in 1943
1.4. An anonymous Survivor
business man contacted The Jewish Chronicle
claiming that he was the little boy, not Artur Siemiatek
. The man who
contacted the paper asked that his name be withheld.
In his statement he claimed the photograph was taken in 1941
and that he remembered he was not wearing any socks at the time; both claims are without
doubt incorrect so far as the photograph under discussion are concerned.
2. Other Jews Identified in the Photograph
|Matylda Lamet Goldfinger
In a Yad Vashem page of testimony, number 90,540 completed in 1994, the little girl at the far left of the photograph
was identified as Hanka Lamet
by her aunt, Esther Grosbard-Lamet
, a resident of
The same document lists 1937
, as the year
and place of the little girl’s birth while the place and circumstances of her death are listed as
- taken to Gas Chambers".
website also indicates that the woman standing to the left of the little girl is
her mother Matylda Lamet Goldfinger
The boy carrying the white sack near the rear of the group shown in the photograph, was identified
as Leo Kartuzinsky
by his sister, Hana Ichengrin
according to an email from Yad Vashem
received by Richard Raskin
According to USHMM
, the woman at the back right was identified as
by her granddaughter
, residing in Victoria (Australia).
3. The SS Man: Josef Blösche
The one person in the photograph whose identity has been established beyond any doubt is the SD
soldier aiming his sub-machine gun in the direction of the little boy.
He was SS-Rottenführer Josef Blösche
a most feared predator, who was often teamed up with SS-Untersturmführer
, and SS-Oberscharführer
to terrorize the occupants of the ghetto on hunting expeditions, randomly killing whomever they chose.
was born in Friedland
(former "Sudetenland") in 1912
and after joining the SS, saw service in Platerow
as a guard patrolling the
River Bug. In May 1941
he was transferred to the SS post at
Following service in an Einsatzgruppen
unit in Baranowitchi
he was transferred to the Warsaw
Security Police, where he took part in the
suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto
Uprising in April 1943
and the Polish national uprising in August 1944
Upon arrest Blösche
made the following statement:
"I have looked at the given photocopy. Concerning the person in the
SS uniform, standing in the foreground of a group of SS members and holding a sub-machine
gun in firing position and wearing a steel helmet with motorcycle goggles, this is me.
The picture shows that I, as a member of the Gestapo office in the
Warsaw Ghetto, together with a group of SS members, am driving a large
number of Jewish citizens out from a house. The group of Jewish citizens is comprised predominantly
of children, women and old people, driven out of a house through a gateway, with their arms raised.
The Jewish citizens were then led to the so-called Umschlagplatz, from which they were
transported to the extermination camp Treblinka.
Signed Josef Blösche
provided another statement at a subsequent interrogation:
"I now recall a shooting of Jewish citizens in the
This took place at a time when there was no transportation to the extermination camp
Treblinka. Brandt gave each of us at the SD
office in the ghetto a small box of pistol ammunition.
Beside me there were Rührenschopf, Klaustermeyer,
and other Gestapo members, whose names I do not know any longer today.
Brandt led us into the middle of the ghetto. I can no longer
remember the exact time, I know the shooting took place in a courtyard, which one entered
from the street through a gateway.
Beyond that I still know that during the shooting, a truck carrying Jewish citizens drove by.
At that moment, I was standing at the entrance to the courtyard. How many Gestapo
members were there I can no longer say exactly, it could have been 15 to 25.
Signed Josef Blösche
25 April 1967
For his dedication and zeal during the Warsaw Ghetto
was awarded the Cross of War Merit 2nd Class with Swords.
During his trial in Erfurt
in April 1969
was found guilty of war crimes, including the participation in the shooting of more than 1,000 Jews in the
courtyard of a building complex on the morning of 19 April 1943
. He was executed
by a shot to the neck in Leipzig
on 29 July 1969
was 57 years old.
Richard Raskin. A Child at Gunpoint
. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2004
Helge Grabitz and Wolfgang Scheffler. Letzte Spuren
. Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1988
WDR TV Documentary (by H. Schwan). The SS-Man Josef Blösche
© ARC 2006