Alone among the Ruins

“Here are faces that I have found memorable. If they are not all as happy as kings, it is because in this imperfect world and these hazardous times, the camera’s eye, like the eye of a child, often sees true,” wrote Toni Frissell. Those two eyes met in the above photo, one of the most heartbreaking photos to come out of the London Blitz.

Maybe the photos of the Luftwaffe planes bombing London, or of St. Paul Cathedral betwixt smoke and fire or downed planes on London streets were more historic, but it was Frissell’s photo that revealed the element of human suffering. The abandoned boy holding a stuffed toy animal lost his London home, along with his parents and brother in the bombing.

Toni Frissell was one of the most famous fashion photographers of the day, working with both Cecil Beaton and Edward Steichen. During the WWII, Frissell volunteered for the American Red Cross, later becoming the official photographer of the Women’s Army Corps. She traveled to the European front twice, and spent time in London documenting the horrors of war above and below the ground.

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