Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Killing of Jews at Ivanhorod, Ukraine, 1942. A woman is attempting to protect a child with her own body just before they are fired on with rifles at close range.
A wartime photograph showing a mother and child shot in cold blood outside the village by a German SS soldier is now considered, in the words of British journalist Robert Fisk, "one of the most impressive and persuasive images of the Nazi Holocaust." It was featured in numerous books, and at photo-exhibits both in Poland and Germany, as "precious and terrible evidence" of "the Nazi cruelties in Eastern Europe."

The photograph was originally sent from the Eastern Front to Nazi Germany, but intercepted at the Warsaw post office by members of the Polish resistance, the Home Army, for Jerzy Tomaszewski who documented Nazi war crimes for the Polish government-in-exile. On the reverse, it was inscribed: "Ukraine 1942 - Judenaktion in Iwangorod" (English: Ukraine 1942 - Jewish operation in Ivanhorod). The executioner appears to be standing over the body of an already executed person. The gun barrels of other executioners are visible at the left-hand edge of the photograph. In 1964, at the height of the Cold War, the popular German weekly Der Spiegel (Nr. 49/1964) published the photograph along with a diatribe naming several angry readers claiming it to be a fake generated by the Russians, although the most incriminating evidence came from the official German records. Confronting a society with photographic evidence of one's own personal experience of war is almost as old as photography itself, wrote reporter-turned-historian Janina Struk, who discussed this image in her Private Pictures: A Soldiers' Inside View of War. In extreme situations the "possession of such private pictures could lead to a court martial", and yet soldiers keep taking them.

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