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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 1, 2010
Rare Footage of Wartime Warsaw
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Rare Footage of Wartime Warsaw
October 1, 2010   
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A documentary film called Correspondent Bryan about an American journalist who reported on the defense of Warsaw in the face of a Nazi German onslaught in the opening days of World War II premiered at the capital’s National Opera Sept. 1. The place could not have been more symbolic. Varsovians left homeless by German bombardment sought shelter in the arcades of the National Opera in September 1939.

Julien Bryan, an American journalist, arrived in Warsaw Sept. 4, 1939 on the last train to the city. The central station was in ruins. Bryan is believed to have been the only foreign journalist in Warsaw at the time. He appealed to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt through the radio to help Polish civilians, who found themselves targeted by German bombers. Bryan left Warsaw, by this time ablaze, on Sept. 21, 1939 and smuggled out a wealth of material documenting the life of the civilian population and the savagery of German soldiers.

The material Bryan recorded is a unique body of reportage. The heroism of the people of Warsaw is seen through the eyes of an individual caught up in the reality of war. Bryan shows how German propaganda distorted the facts in an attempt to mislead world opinion and divert attention from the crimes being inflicted on the civilian population of Poland. Neither Europe nor the United States would have been aware of the enormity of the brutality had it not been for Bryan. America’s eyes were prized open when his films were made public.

The documentary Correspondent Bryan was made by Eugeniusz Starky with the support of Julien Bryan’s son Samuel and the participation of the Steven Spielberg Foundation and the Holocaust Museum in New York.

Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz gave a speech, as did Samuel Bryan, a guest of honor. Samuel Bryan was born in 1939, at a time his father was traveling around a Europe teetering on the brink of war with his camera.

As yet, no distributor has expressed interest in purchasing the film.
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