Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Warsaw they fought and died for?

As the 65th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising approaches, some thoughts about my city. My very first impressions (as an eight year-old) of Warsaw's monumental Stalinist architecture were "Wow! This is amazing!" Plac Konstytucji in those days was graced with neons advertising Soviet wrist-watches ('Accurate!') and Soviet railways ('Punctual! Clean!'). I compared Warsaw, with its modern trams and wide thoroughfares, favourably to sooty old London town. And my fascination with post-war Warsaw architecture continued on each subsequent visit.

Today, I find myself more ambivalent. Today, I can also picture Warsaw throught the eyes of the survivors of the Uprising; for five years they fought the Nazi to find one oppressor replaced by another, who persecuted former Home Army soldiers on trumped-up charges of collaborating with the occupant.

To the veterans of the Uprising, the kitch, neo-classical monumentalism symbolised nothing less than the Soviet boot repeatedly stamping brutally down upon the ruins of their beloved city. And at its very heart, Stalin's gift to Warsaw's people, the Palace of "Culture". The culture of the Gulag, of torture, of a lying, stupid, totalitarian ideology that would deprive Poles of the chance to fulfill their potential for a further 45 years.

Below: Symbols of an alien ideology. The 'worker' triumphant. 'Ill-fed slave' more like. Today it's history, thank God. It should be preserved, left for the future rather than torn down as some suggest. But walking around the Plac Konstytucji (named after the Stalinist 'constitution' of 1952), one needs to have an awareness of what it all symbolises.


Adam Kosterski said...

Words fail me. I am totally sickened by the subject matter of these articles and many of the ignorant, self righteous and metally corrupt comments. Many are beyond belief. Thankfully there are many who are not 'blind in both eyes' as the Russian saying goes, but whether their inputs and the information they contain reach those 'opining' in apparent ignorance is another matter.

Bob said...

Michael - good, thoughtful post.

Adam Kosterski said...

Sorry Michał, perhaps for an english language blog I shouldn't have linked to Polish articles defaming the Warsaw uprising - and note also I wasn't very informative as to their content.
You might wish to remove my comments altogether. Agree with Bob, however, good post(as usual).

Dyspozytor said...

Hi Adam, I for one am grateful for your links. The articles show how ignorant certain journalists are as to the facts. As Hitler's Armies retreated there were successful uprisings in many places in Europe as the local resistance supported the Allies in routing the German forces.

The Warsaw Home Army Commanders had no crystal ball to tell them that in Warsaw it would be different and the Allies would choose to abandon the brave Varsovians to the mercy of the Nazis.