A cobblestone road. A sunny day. A soldier. A gun. A child, arms high in the air. A moment captured on film. But what is the history behind arguably the most recognizable photograph of the Holocaust? In The Boy: A Holocaust Story, the historian Dan Porat unpacks this split second that was immortalized on film and unravels the stories of the individuals—both Jews and Nazis—associated with it.
The Boy presents the stories of three Nazi criminals, ranging in status from SS sergeant to low-ranking SS officer to SS general. It is also the story of two Jewish victims, a teenage girl and a young boy, who encounter these Nazis in Warsaw in the spring of 1943. The book is remarkable in its scope, picking up the lives of these participants in the years preceding World War I and following them to their deaths. One of the Nazis managed to stay at large for twenty-two years. One of the survivors lived long enough to lose a son in the Yom Kippur War. Nearly sixty photographs dispersed throughout help narrate these five lives. And, in keeping with the emotional immediacy of those photographs, Porat has deliberately used a narrative style that, drawing upon extensive research, experience, and oral interviews, places the reader in the middle of unfolding events.
On a fall afternoon in 1913, eighteen-year-old Josef Stroop stood on the eighty-foot-high observation deck of the Hermann Monument in the Teutoburg Forest gazing up at the larger-than-life sculpture of the first-century leader of Germanic tribes, who, according to legend, had defeated the Romans in a decisive battle. Bright turquoise from the oxidation of the copper sheath, Hermann stood with his chest puffed out, a winged metal helmet covering his head and high leather boots adorning his feet. His fully extended right arm firmly gripped the hilt of