Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography
National Gallery of Art, home page
Image: David Seymour (Chim), Terezka, A Disturbed Child in a Warsaw Orphanage, 1948, gelatin silver print, printed 1982 David Seymour (Chim)
Terezka, A Disturbed Child in a Warsaw Orphanage, 1948
gelatin silver print, printed 1982
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Ben Shneiderman
© David Seymour Estate/Magnum Photos

Children of Europe

Terezka, A Disturbed Child in a Warsaw Orphanage

Chim's photograph of Terezka encapsulates the terror and violence that were the hallmarks of 20th-century Europe. Terezka grew up in a German concentration camp. Chim photographed her at a home for mentally disturbed children in Warsaw. When asked to draw a picture of "home," she managed only the chaotic scribbles visible on the blackboard. Though she pauses to look at the camera, her wild-eyed stare suggests her mind, at least, is still in a darker place.

During this trip to Poland, Chim learned the details of his parents' deaths during the war. They were killed in 1942 in a ghetto created by the Nazis in Otwock, a resort town just outside Warsaw where the Szymin family formerly had a summer house. It is not difficult to imagine that Chim—visiting his devastated hometown for the first time since the war's end—recognized Terezka as a kindred spirit.