Tag Archives: strange

Oddest photo in Polish history?

Another gem turned up in my search through the excellent Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (National Digital Archive). This photo was taken in Krakow in 1941, according to the notes that accompany it. The wartime date and the city are confirmed by the destination plate on the back of the tram: Adolf Hitler Platz was the new name given to the Rynek Głowny by the occupying Germans. That’s all clear enough. What I don’t understand is what the hell is going on here. The more I look at it, the weirder it gets.

Click for a larger version

A number of questions spring to mind:

1. Why is nobody helping these people?

Possibly the guy who has come off his bicycle is dead, but the guy in front of the car isn’t. Why isn’t somebody at least helping him up? At first I though perhaps the accident had just happened when the photo was taken but:

a) there is no driver in the car;

b) a crowd of onlookers has gathered; and

c) a police officer is already on the scene (under the tree with his back to the camera).

2. What happened?

I’m fairly sure that’s the back of the tram, not the front: I see no driving position and there is a hitching coupling visible. If so, the tram must have been heading to the right, out of the frame of the picture. How did that car get there in that orientation? It looks like it’s come directly off the pavement.

3. How likely is it that there was a photographer right there?

Cameras were expensive and rare things in the 1940s, especially in occupied Europe. It’s an amazing coincidence that there should have been a photographer on the scene, with a loaded camera, within a short time of this incident. The photo looks much more like the kind of thing you would see taken today with a phone camera than the kind of thing you might expect from 1940s photography. Could the whole scene be staged? Is it part of a film set?

These questions and many more will undoubtedly be answered by our indefatigable readers. Or not.

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