Appeal launched to identify family pictured with baby amongst rubble of war-torn Warsaw
An emotive WWII photo showing a couple smiling lovingly at a bundled-up baby among the ruins of Warsaw has become the subject of the latest appeal from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) keen to trace the identity of its subjects.
Presumably showing parents with their new-born child, the couple’s radiant happiness and the child’s snow-white baby blanket stand in stark contrast to the chaos and crumbled building ruins of Warsaw strewn around them.
Amid the few details revealed are that the photograph was probably taken in 1944 by photographer Henryk Śmigacz.
A pre-war photojournalist for the ‘Kurier Warszawski’ newspaper, his large memorabilia and photograph archive was acquired by the IPN archives from his family at the end of July this year.
In a message posted alongside the image in its Facebook post, the IPN Archive wrote: “It is very important to us, as it is for Henryk Śmigacz’s daughter and granddaughter, to recall the names of the subjects of this photograph.
“If you know who is represented in this photograph or where it was taken, write to us! Maybe one of you will recognise in this photograph their parents or grandparents.
“Maybe thanks to you we will be able to uncover the further fate of this photographed family.”
During the Warsaw Uprising, Śmigacz took photographs for the Government Delegation for Poland, an agency of the Polish Government in Exile during World War II, working mainly in the northern part of central Warsaw alongside photojournalist Jan Ryś.
Described as ‘very valuable’ by the director of the archive Marzena Kruk, the photos include striking images from the Warsaw Uprising though many of the people pictured remain unknown.
The collection was gifted to the IPN Archives by his daughter Aleksandry Szczygielska and granddaughter Małgorzaty Szczygielska-Scott through a project aimed at acquiring and securing documents connected with the contemporary history of Poland.
After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, Śmigacz, his wife and daughter Alexandra left Warsaw for Lódź, where he set up a photography studio and became a chronicler of the city’s theatre scene from the 1940s-1960s.