Woman captured in one of WWII’s most harrowing photos dies at age of 93

Kazimiera Mika was pictured by American photographer Julien Bryan kneeling beside the body of her dead sister just moments after they had been machine-gunned by German aircraft. Public domain

The woman who as a young girl was the subject of one the most famous and shocking photographs of WWII has died aged 93.

Kazimiera Mika was pictured by American photographer Julien Bryan kneeling beside the body of her dead sister just moments after they had been machine-gunned by German aircraft.

Mika who survived the war was buried in Warsaw's Old Powązki Cemetery.Marcin Kaliński/PAP

The shock and grief on 12-year-old Mika’s face brought home to the world the savagery of the indiscriminate force Nazi Germany’s forces were using as they rolled across Poland in 1939.

The photograph was taken during the siege of Warsaw in September. Desperate for food a group of women were digging in a potato field in the capital’s Powązki district when they came under attack from Luftwaffe aircraft.

The shock and grief on 12-year-old Mika’s face brought home to the world the savagery of the indiscriminate force Nazi Germany’s forces were using as they rolled across Poland in 1939.Public domain

After bombing some houses, Bryan recalled, the aircraft returned to attack the defenceless women.

“In a few minutes they came back and swooped down to within two hundred feet of the ground, this time raking the field with machine-gun fire,” the photographer wrote years later.

Photographer Julien Bryan (pictured) later said: ““I threw my arm about her and held her tightly, trying to comfort her. She cried. So did I, and the two Polish officers who were with me.”Public domain

“Two of the seven women were killed. The other five escaped somehow. While I was photographing the bodies, a little ten-year old girl came running up and stood transfixed by one of the dead.

“The woman was her older sister. The child had never before seen death and couldn't understand why her sister would not speak to her...The child looked at us in bewilderment.

After the war Mika met Bryan twice and last year his son visited her in Warsaw.Paweł Supernak/PAP

“I threw my arm about her and held her tightly, trying to comfort her. She cried. So did I, and the two Polish officers who were with me.”

Mika survived the war, and would meet Bryan again in 1958 and 1974. Last year, Bryan’s son Sam travelled to Warsaw, and with Mika visited her sister’s grave on the 80th anniversary of her death.