Little Tsvi

This photo has come to symbolize the suffering of the entire Jewish people during the Holocaust. Who was this little boy? Did he survive the War?

After World War 2 the photograph appeared in files, exhibitions, magazines, books, newspaper articles on the Holocaust and television documentary programs. Over one million children under the age of sixteen died in the Holocaust - plucked from their homes and stripped of their childhoods, they lived and died during the dark years of the Holocaust and were victims of the Nazi regime. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped
children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.

And millions of people believed that the frightened little boy of this poignant photograph was murdered, too. As Washington Post commented:" The photograph goes right to the heart - no doubt the boy, like millions of other Jews, were killed by the Nazis ..." But after several decades the boy was found - Tsvi C. Nussbaum, a physician living in Rockland County in upstate New York, USA, told that he was the then seven-year old little boy. He recalled how he and his aunt were arrested in front of a Warsaw hotel, where Jews with foreign passports had gathered because they thought it could provide a way to escape Poland.

He remembered the date, July 13, 1943, and how he was told to put his hands up."I remember there was a soldier in front of me," he told the newspaper, recalling the picture, "and he ordered me to raise my hands."

Nussbaum’s story is an especially tragic one, most notably because his parents had immigrated to then Palestine in 1935. But they found life too difficult there, and returned to the town of Sandomierz, Poland, in 1939. Nussbaum’s parents were murdered before the Jews were deported, and his brother simply disappeared. He and his aunt went to Warsaw and managed to live there as gentiles for over a year. When caught, they were deported to the death camp, Bergen-Belsen.

After his liberation by British troops in 1945 Nussbaum went to Palestine and spent the next eight years in what became the state of Israel. Then in 1953 he went to America. He arrived not knowing a word of English, and excelled in science. He went to medical school, and became an ear, nose, and throat specialist, largely motivated by the desire to help his uncle, who has a speech defect as a result of a larynx damaged in the concentration camps.

He got married, and had four daughters, and two grandchildren. He kept that famous photograph, with another one of himself at that age, on the wall of his waiting room.

But what happened to the German soldier on the right with the gun? Who was he? Today we know his fate, too: His name was Josef Blösche, a vicious and sadistic man known in the Ghetto as "Frankenstein". After the war he fled but was recognized in Soviet zone of Germany by survivors from the Ghetto, put on trial and convicted of murder. He was executed for his crimes ...