Saturday, 3 August 2019

Heading home

We checked out of the Golden Tulip hotel at midday and set opf on foot with our bags, Dziadzio on wheelchair, and made our way towards Pole Mokotowskie via Aleje Jerozolimskie and aleja Niepodległości. On the corner of al. Niepodległości and ulica Wawelska, we spend a few moments by the plaque which marks the murder of 56 Poles by "Hitlerites". My father narrowly escaped this particular massacre, thanks to a local civilian resident, who spoke Russian and talked these RONA soldiers out of further murders by offering them food.

We enter the Pole Molotowskie fields, a beautiful and huge park, 65 hectares of it, properly landscaped, an attractive amenity for local residents.

My father remembers that the fields served as Warsaw's first airport (before Okęcie was built). He'd come here with his brothers to watch the biplanes and balloons taking off and landing. He mentioned seeing the start of the Gordon Bennett Cup in ballooning (which was hosted by Poland in 1934, 1935 and 1936, and won by Poland in 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1938). Here he is reading a plaque commemorating the field's role in Poland's aviation history.

My father remembers when the whole field was just flat and featureless. Today, it has hillocks and ponds, cycle paths and cafes.

As we left the park, a Brazilian guy and his girlfriend came up to us to shake hands with my father - he'd seen the moving footage on the Paddy Ney's #Rising44Live coverage on YouTube (from 9hrs 10mins in) of my father laying flowers on his brother Jozef's grave. A really cool bike.

On our journey on foot to the airport, we passed the Soviet war memorial on ul. Żwirki i Wigury; empty, forlorn. Commemorations of the anniversaries of the liberation of Breda and Ancona by Polish forces, or indeed any major Western European city by British or American forces, has been warm, spontaneous and heartfelt. I don't think a single Eastern European city will ever show 'gratitude' to the Red Army for their 'liberation'.

We make it to the airport, where the many more people approach my father to wish him well. The manager of the airport McDonalds adds another item to our meal, which my father ate with appreciation on the flight; the purser on the BA plane home offered us complimentary drinks. Lovely to see my old dad treated so well by so many people. Below: we like studying maps.

Below: almost back in London. I ask my father whether he remembers the 75th anniversary of the 1863 January Uprising, which would have occurred in 1938 when he was a 15 year-old. No, he didn't. This makes my glad that his Uprising has not been forgotten. It was a wonderful, magical week; unforgettable.

This time three years ago:
From my father's historic return to Warsaw

This time four years ago:
Country life in a capital city 

This time six years ago:
My ogród is my działka

This time seven years ago:
Poland's 'lemmings' will sink the Right

This time eight years ago:
Mazowieckie province tempts with mini- and micro-breaks

This time nine years ago:
Pride and anger


Katarzyna Katana said...

Wielka szkoda, że Pan Bohdan już pojechał :( Proszę Go bardzo serdecznie od nas - wolontariuszek pozdrowić!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Katarzyna Katana

Byliście świetni! W imieniu ojca, serdecznie Wam dziękujemy i pozdrawiamy!