Tsvi C. Nussbaum  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Tsvi C. Nussbaum (born 1935) is a holocaust survivor, known as possibly being the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto photograph. Nussbaum's parents immigrated to what was Palestine in 1935. However, they found life too difficult there, and so returned in 1939 to Sandomierz in Poland. Nussbaum's mother and father were murdered before the Jews of the region were sent to various German Nazi concentration camps. Tsvi's brother disappeared, never to be seen again. Shortly thereafter Tsvi and his aunt moved to Warsaw and, posing as gentiles, lived there for over a year. When caught, they were deported to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.

After 1945, Tsvi moved to Palestine (later to become Israel). After living in Israel for eight years, he moved to the United States. Initially, he did not speak English; but having a talent for science, he later studied medicine and became an otolaryngologist in New York City.

Two considerations count against Nussbaum being the boy in the photograph. First, Nussbaum was arrested at the Hotel Polski, not in the ghetto as is pictured. Further, he was arrested on July 13, 1943, several months after the ghetto had been destroyed and the report, where the picture is to be found, delivered to Heinrich Himmler.

More than any other photos, this famous photograph captures the essence of the horrors of Holocaust: Warsaw 1943, a little Jewish boy, dressed in short trousers and a cap, raises his arms in surrender with lowered eyes, as a Nazi soldier trains his machine gun on him.

The photo has come to symbolize the suffering of the entire Jewish people during the Holocaust. Who was this little boy? Did he survive World War 2?

After the war the photograph appeared in files, exhibitions, magazines, books, newspaper articles on the Holocaust and television documentary programs. And millions of people were brought to believe 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, was the then seven-year old little boy.

He told how he and his aunt were arrested in front of a Warsaw hotel, where Jews with foreign passports had gathered to find 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 KZ camp, Bergen-Belsen in Germany.

A few days before the liberation Tsvi almost died but a doctor - a German doctor - stayed to keep him alive. The little Jewish boy miraculously survived the Holocaust.

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. In a recent interview he said: I feel a tremendous guilt … why did I survive?

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tsvi C. Nussbaum" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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