The trolley that traveled through the streets of the Warsaw ghetto in May 1942 was red. I know this now because there are about two minutes in A Film Unfinished, a documentary about a propaganda film shot in the Warsaw ghetto in May 1942, that are in color. Not colorized, but actual color footage. I couldn't breathe for those few minutes of color. When I think about the Holocaust, it is in black and white. the images we have - photos and film - combined the bleakness of the situation make me forget that the world did, in fact, have color in it during those darkest times. To see it in color is to challenge everything.
The trolley rolls down the street, red. A girl wears a pink ribbon in her hair as she runs alongside a funeral process arranged by the Nazis for the purposes of their film. Another child has a red sweater. The procession passes by a brownish-reddish brick wall. The same brick wall that I touched in June. Even though I knew it was the same wall brick wall - that the color would not have been gray and black and white when it marked the boundary of the ghetto sixty-eight years before its rough exterior scratched my fingertips - it was like a parallel universe to see it as it was and as it is today.
Those short minutes in color, a side note in a film with many ideas, changed everything. Life was never black and white. I don't know if there is more footage like that, but now that I've seen it, I am greedy for more.