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Zygmunt Aksienow is dead. He was the “boy with a canary” from Julien Bryan’s famous wartime photograph

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Zygmunt Aksienow, the famous boy with a canary from the photos of the American war correspondent Julien Bryan, is dead. The man was photographed during the siege of Warsaw in September 1939. The information about his death was provided by the Archives of New Records. He was 91 years old.

The information about the death of Zygmunt Aksienow was provided on Wednesday by the Archives of New Files. “We have just found out that Mr. Zygmunt Aksienow, the famous ‘boy with a canary’ from Julien Bryan’s film chronicles from the defense of Warsaw in 1939, has died” – it was reported.

The man was the protagonist of a photograph by Julien Bryan, an American war reporter who documented the situation in Warsaw at the beginning of World War II. He was immortalized on film as a 9-year-old boy, holding a cage with a canary in his hands, saved from a bombed building near the New Town square.


A boy with a canary or Zygmunt AksienowJulien Bryan / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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In 2009, Mr. Zygmunt Aksienow talked about this situation in an interview with a TVN24 reporter. He described that he set off towards the rubble, because his friend lived in this tenement house. He wanted to see if he managed to survive. On the way, he found a cage in the street, thrown from the window by the force of the explosion. The man mentioned that he remembers the correspondent who showed up with a camera and a translator. – I didn’t understand him. This officer was explaining something and he asked me. I say I came because my friend lives here and I want to see if he is alive. It turned out so. He (Julien Bryan – ed.) Took pictures during this time – he said.

Zygmunt Aksienow – a boy with a canary from a photo by Julien BryanSławek Kasper / Institute of National Remembrance

After the war, he was imprisoned and worked in the mines

Zygmunt Aksienow was born on April 9, 1930 in Warsaw. His father was a painter, his mother was a street trader. He had three siblings. “Both of Zygmunt Aksienow’s parents belonged to the Home Army, and the sons were also involved in smaller underground tasks. The whole family actively participated in the Warsaw Uprising in the area of ​​the Old Town and Śródmieście. during the uprising, the youngest died in 1941 of meningitis) he ended up in Pionki near Radom “- we read in the biography prepared by the History Meeting House.

After the end of World War II, on New Year’s Eve 1949, Aksenov was arrested and accused of, among other things, possession of weapons and anti-Soviet propaganda. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison. He regained his freedom in 1953 under a hefty amnesty. As a prisoner, he worked in mines in Upper and Lower Silesia. After a short stay in the capital, he returned there and worked as a miner until his retirement.

An American correspondent captured the siege of Warsaw

American correspondent Julien Bryan spent almost the entirety of September 1939 in Warsaw. He arrived here in the capital on the last train that arrived here before the impending siege. On its way from Romania, it was bombed many times by the Germans. The president of the capital, Stefan Starzyński, gave him a car with a driver and an interpreter. He himself spoke only English and German, so some took him for a spy. As the only foreign journalist, he recorded the everyday life of the inhabitants of the besieged city and the increasing scale of destruction. In total, several hours of film recordings and 700 photos were made.

A boy with a canary or Zygmunt AksienowJulien Bryan / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Backstage of Julien Bryan’s visit to Warsaw in 1939 and We described the story recorded in his most famous photograph from the fighting capital in the TVN24 Magazine. The correspondent captured the teenage Kazimiera Mika sobbing over the body of Anna’s older sister on a film. The girls were picking potatoes on the then outskirts of the city, in the area of ​​the intersection of Ostroroga and Tatarska Streets, when German planes arrived. Anna was shot dead.

Kazimiera Mika over the body of Anna’s sister who was shotJulien Bryan / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

As reported on tvn24.pl, Kazimiera Mika died at the end of August 2020.

Main photo source: Julien Bryan / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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