The Museum of Warsaw has made available all the surviving photos taken by Sylwester “Kris” Braun during the Warsaw Uprising. A unique collection of 1,500 photos can be viewed on the Collections website of the Museum of Warsaw. It allows you to trace the photographer’s travel routes and the fate of the insurgent fights chronologically.
On October 2, the museum presented for the first time all the surviving photographs taken by Sylwester “Kris” Braun during the Warsaw Uprising. The date is not accidental. “This is the Day of Remembrance of the Civil Uprising Population of Warsaw. We would like to celebrate this date by publishing unique photos of Sylwester Braun. The photos show soldiers, civilians and everyday life in a city torn by war, where over 900,000 people lived before the uprising” – emphasizes the museum.
As he recalls, Sylwester Braun, ps. “Kris” (1909-1996) was the creator of the photo of the bombed “Prudential”, which became an icon – a visual symbol of the Warsaw Uprising and the German occupation. However, this is only one of the more than three thousand photographs he has taken. He made his first military photo reportage in September 1939, during the siege of Warsaw.
Braun belonged to the underground, he was a member of the Union of Armed Struggle, and then of the Home Army. During the Warsaw Uprising, he wandered the streets of Śródmieście, near Wola and Powiśle – dressed in civilian clothes, with a small Leica Standard camera hidden in his jacket pocket. “He attached importance to the composition of the frames, he tried to take different perspectives – he climbed the roofs, stood right behind the defenders of the barricades. He often repeated the shots, slightly correcting them. U Aktorek ” – lists the Museum of Warsaw.
Most of the photos and negatives were burnt, but some of them were hidden in the basement
And he points out that although most of the photos and negatives were burned in the photographer’s apartment in Powiśle, he managed to hide some of the plates in the jars in the basement of the building at Marszałkowska Street and found it after the end of the war. “With time, the insurgent photographs became more and more recognizable, but their author, who had lived in exile for many years, remained unknown. Only in 1979, thanks to the ‘Polish Courier’ action, it was possible to find Sylwester Braun” – explains the museum.
In 1981, the photographer donated a collection of over 1,500 surviving negatives to the Museum of Warsaw, and on October 2 the collection was made available on the website Collections of the Museum of Warsaw. “The identified and described frames also gained additional context – it was possible to decode the sequences of frames within specific rolls, and thus the order in which Braun took pictures” – emphasizes the museum.
Chronologically arranged, two rolls now available
– The Museum of Warsaw decided to recreate its original character and chronology, to the extent that the material itself made it possible. For many years, single shots have been used to illustrate specific issues related to the history of the capital and the Warsaw Uprising. Sylwester Braun himself, for the sake of convenience, cut the original rolls of negatives into smaller strips, sometimes individual frames – says Piotr Głogowski, curator of the project, quoted in the release.
He also explains that the chronological ordering of the negatives reflects the way of photojournalistic work by Sylwester Braun and the routes of his daily journeys, which allows for a more precise identification of places recorded on the film or the course of insurgent events.
The museum has made available two of the several dozen detailed and developed rolls. Here are some pictures of Braun from the first roll (Śródmieście, August 5-10, 1944), a here from the second roll (Śródmieście and Powiśle, September 12-15, 1994).
Main photo source: Sylwester Braun ps. Kris, Museum of Warsaw