Stephen Baker

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What children might be thinking

January 26, 2013General

What might this boy be thinking? He's standing in the bombed-out ruins of Essen, Germany, in 1947, and is caught on film by Chim, the photographer also known as David Seymour. Writing about an exhibit of Chim's photos in the New York Times, Ken Johnson ends his short article by focusing on the boy: "Like an angel descended from heaven, he bears witness to humanity's murderous and suicidal idiocy. He might be wondering: When will they ever learn?"

He might also be spotting a cool place to play hide and seek. I'm reminded of an interview in which filmmaker Werner Herzog recalled his childhood in post-war Germany. Here's a snippet:

He noted ... that while growing up in the ruins of a city was hard on adults, it was satisfying for a child. "Kids in the cities took over whole bombed - out blocks and would declare the remnants of buildings their own to play in where great adventures were acted out. . . . Everyone I know who spent their early childhood in the ruins of post - war Germany raves about that time. It was anarchy in the best sense of the word. There were no ruling fathers around and no rules to follow. We had to invent everything from scratch."

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