Intrigued by Elyse Graham ’07’s Princeton Portrait (Dec. 4) on Julien Bryan 1921 and his courageous filming of the siege of Warsaw in 1939, I called up the 10-minute video footage, now archived.
What’s remarkable is not his capture of the physical damage — intense fires, craters left by German bombs, buildings in tattered ruin, bread lines — but the faces of the Polish people. There’s a wide range of emotion — fear, anxiety, stoicism, resignation — visible in closeups. The video, easily accessed at the site listed in the article, is a moving testament to the horror of a people suddenly plunged into chaos as German warplanes bombed and strafed the city continuously for long days.
Bryan turns out to be one of those rare individuals who chose to stay and document a wartime siege in the face of incredible peril; his is another name for the annals of Princetoniana. For these heroic weeks alone, he deserves a special place in the history of photojournalism.