A girl who grew up in a war zone draws a picture of "home" while living in a residence for disturbed children, 1948

This extraordinary photo, taken in 1948 by David Seymour, one of the co-founders of Magnum Photos, has since been viewed by millions. First, it was published in LIFE magazine where the headline read "Children's wounds are not all external. Those created in the mind from years of grief will take years to heal."

This image of Teresa depicting her home has fascinated many and has become a symbol of World War II. His eyes are piercing, like a window to his soul. No eyes of innocent youth. Like soldiers who have seen heavy combat, he has to stare a thousand yards terrifyingly.

For more than 70 years the image was shrouded in mystery and the true identity and true story of Teresca remained unknown. Other versions of this image are floating around, and in several cases, their captions mention that the subject grew up inside a concentration camp. However, it is not so.

In early September 1948, David Seymour was sent by UNICEF as a special correspondent to report on children in five European countries. He visited Italy, Greece, Austria, Hungary and his last stop was Poland, his country of origin. While visiting Poland, Seymour learns that his parents and most of his family have been executed by the Nazis.

After traveling 25 miles from the capital to Otwock, where he had summered as a child, he went back to Warsaw, where he photographed the ruins of a Jewish ghetto. There, Seymour saw a group of schoolchildren pushing a wheelbarrow full of rubble, and he followed them, finding several other children working as occupational therapy on their garden plot.

At a school for "backward and psychologically disturbed children," as Seymour describes in the caption of her story, Teresa, then seven or eight years old, stands in front of a blackboard. As we see in the photographer's contact sheet from the notices pinned on the blackboard, the teachers' assignment was 'to jest dome' - "this is home". That's what the kids were supposed to draw, but Teresa could only trace a tangle of frantic lines in the chalk. Her haunted eyes reflect her confusion and anguish.

Who was Teresa and what happened to her?

The school was the subject of a 1948 short film, where one can recognize many of the elements present in David Seymour's photographs in the classroom: wooden floors, similar wall paintings, a black trim painted on the wall, and a large round black metal frame placed nearby. buzzer door. It is no longer a special-needs institution, but has become primary school number 177 on Tarzynska Street in the Stara Ochota District.

Going through the institute's archives, three possible "teresca" were identified from the 1948 class list. One of them was too old to be the girl in the image - she was 12 or 13. When the researchers looked at the other Teresa's family photos, it became clear that it was not her either.

The third Teresa was seven or eight years old, matching the picture, and dropped out of school a year later. The research team was able to find her brother and sister-in-law and piece together some elements of her life.

Teresa Adventoska comes from a Catholic family. She was one of two daughters of Jane Clemens, an activist in the Polish underground state, The Resistance.

During the bombing of Warsaw by the German Lutwaffe, Tereska's house was destroyed, and her grandmother was most likely shot by Ukrainian soldiers who were helping the Germans put an end to the Warsaw Uprising. Teresa was hit by a piece of shrapnel that damaged her brain.

Escape from Warsaw after the bombings, four-year-old Teresa and her 14-year-old sister Jadwiga spent three weeks trying to reach a village forty miles from Warsaw, in a war-ravaged country. They were starving.

That incident left him with an insatiable appetite, and his physical and mental condition continued to deteriorate. During the 1954/1955 school year, he was to be sent to a mental asylum in wiecie (about 190 miles from Warsaw). He loved to paint since childhood, mainly flowers and animals.

As a teenager, she became addicted to cigarettes and alcohol and became violent towards her younger brother. From the mid-sixties, he spent his life in the Twerky mental asylum near Warsaw; The only things that mattered to him were the cigarettes, the food, and his pictures.

In 1978, at the Twerke Mental Asylum, Teresa Adventoska had a tragic death: she accidentally choked on a piece of sausage she had stolen from another patient.

David Seymour's picture of Teresa has become a symbol of the fate of children during the war. As if caught in a tangled web of her own chalk lines, she remained frozen in time: for Teresa, the war never ended.

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