Saturday, 26 April 2014

A-Z Blogging Challenge - Warsaw

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is a city of contrasts. Much of the city had to be rebuilt after the World War II when 80% of its buildings were razed to the ground by the occupying German army before they abandoned it to the advancing Soviet army.

During the Communist regime, many prefabricated housing projects were erected to deal with the housing shortage, including the greyish-brown apartment blocks that are typical of Communist countries.

The Palace of Culture and Science was a gift from the Soviet Union, and was completed in 1955. Nearly 800 feet high, it still dominates the centre of the city. The Rolling Stones played here in 1967, the first major rock band from abroad ever to play in Poland.

The historic streets, buildings and churches in the Old Town were restored to their original form, including the Royal Castle (shown here) which was reconstructed from a pile of rubble between 1971 Dating back to the 14th century, the castle was the residence of the Polish kings, then the presidents, and also the seat of parliament.

The Old Town market place (Rynek Starego Miasta) was destroyed by the Nazis and was rebuilt in the 1950s. Originally the centre of the medieval town, the houses were rebuilt in late Renaissance style following the great fire of 1607. These would have been the homes of the rich merchant families.

There are several interesting memorials in Warsaw, commemorating events in World War II.

The Warsaw Uprising, during August and September 1944, was an attempt by the Polish Resistance Army to liberate the city from the Nazis. They hoped for support from the approaching Soviet army, but this didn’t happen, and after pitched battles in different parts of the city over a period of six weeks, the uprising was crushed. It is estimated that about 16,000 of the Polish army were killed, and 8,000 German soldiers. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mainly from mass executions. A monument to the uprising was unveiled in 1989. It shows the insurgents emerging from the sewers which had been used for transportation and communications during the uprising.

Another memorial in Warsaw commemorates the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis entered the ghetto on Passover in 1943, but it took them a month to defeat the handful of resistors who fought back.

Another memorial is situated where the Jews were assembled for transportation to the Treblinka extermination camp, as many as 10,000 a day. The Umschlagplatz (meaning collection point) was created by fencing off an area of the railway station that was adjacent to the ghetto. The monument, unveiled in 1988, is inscribed ‘Along this path of suffering and death over 300 000 Jews were driven in 1942-1943 from the Warsaw Ghetto to the gas chambers of the Nazi extermination camps,’ and over 400 of the most popular Jewish first names are shown. The memorial symbolises an open freight car and the gate is surmounted by a grave stone

3 comments:

  1. One of the saddest and most tragic times in human history. Amazing photos and I'm sure a place for interesting research. visiting from the AtoZ Challenge List. I browsed your book list. I will check out IRISH INHERITANCE....I'm a genealogist...this sounds right down my reading alley.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for visiting, Sue. Warsaw was a fascinating place.
    Hope you enjoy Irish Inheritance :-)

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