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Jan Czochralski in the office at the Warsaw University of Technology, photo taken probably after Poland occupied by the Germans, photo: Forum

In 1916, Polish scientist Jan Czochralski devised something fundamental to today’s electronic devices. Even though this discovery secured him a place among the scientific greats, for decades his name was shrouded in obscurity in his homeland. He was even accused of collaborating with Poland’s wartime enemies, despite working for the resistance.

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An advertising leaflet for the K-202 computer, photo: promo materials

In 1970s Poland, Jacek Karpiński created a computer which could conduct a million operations per second and was small enough to fit into a briefcase. At a time when computers were not only slower but also comparable in size to cupboards, this was a remarkable accomplishment. Unfortunately, the communist regime blocked the device from going into production.

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A portrayal of an Alien in Emilcin, photo: YouTube

In May 1978, a 71-year-old peasant from the small village of Emilcin in eastern Poland began telling a story about how he met aliens and was taken onto their spacecraft. He never renounced it. Even today, there are people who seem to believe in his fairy tale, which is possibly the most famous account of a Polish close encounter with extra-terrestrials…

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General Jaruzelski's address on 13th December 1981, photo: Wojtek Łaski Diffusion/East News

Thirty-five years ago, on Sunday 13th December 1981 at 6am, Polish radio and TV broadcasted an address by General Wojciech Jaruzelski. Repeated over and over again, it informed Polish citizens that martial law was being introduced. Culture.pl has gathered the memories of various artists from that day. Where they were when they heard the news? How did they take it?

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  Edward Dwurnik, Śniadanie (Breakfast), October 1972, painting from the series Sportsmen, oil and acrylic on canvas, 146 x 114 cm, private collection, image courtesy the artist

A sportsperson is not necessarily an athlete or a speeding sprinter. In Edward Dwurnik’s ironic take, it is someone who smokes Sport cigarettes.

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The series Sportsmen comprises 274 paintings created by Dwurnik between 1972 and 1992. The series is considered one of the most accurate – even if caricatural – portraits of the Polish People’s Republic.

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Warszawa, 13.04.1967​,​ ​concert by The Rolling Stones, Congress Hall, Warsaw, photo: Marek A. Karewicz/Forum

The eastern side of the Iron Curtain calls forth many images: empty shelves, people queuing, joyless dictators… but not necessarily the Rolling Stones.

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Gdańsk, 1988. Strike at the Gdańsk Lenin Shipyard, photo: Jerzy Kosnik/Forum

You probably think that learning the history of Poland in a mere 10 minutes is impossible, even insane. Give Culture.pl 10 minutes to prove you wrong.

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Zofia Rydet’s portrait, photo: courtesy of the Zofia Rydet Foundation/ www.zofiarydet.com

Images by the photographer, spanning across all of Poland and taken for a period of 20 years, reveal the interiors of Polish homes, the objects in fashion, and what was considered valuable by people in the late 20th century.

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The new Syrena Ligea. Photo: K Motor International Corporation

A cult Polish car will soon be back on the roads with a bang. The Syrena, produced originally during the communist period, is due to ride again in the first half of next year.

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Poland is a landlocked Eastern European country somewhere in the polar circle. It is a former member of the USSR inhabited by Russian speakers...or is it? Have a look at these six real-life misconceptions about Poland and don’t hesitate to share those you've heard!

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Okrąglak, photo: Łukasz Cynalewski / AG

The architectural attempts of the dreaded communist regime, once brick-and-mortar symbols of injustice, now tend to be looked upon as vintage classics more and more often. Here's Culture.pl's list of 9 once-awkward communist behemoths that today are considered iconic.

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Building the Palace of Culture and Science, 1953, photo: Forum

Raised as a symbol of Polish-Soviet friendship, the Palace hosted performances of Communist dignitaries, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Rolling Stones. The people of Warsaw quarrelled over tearing it down, but finally, the building was proclaimed a national heritage monument. On July 22nd, 2015, the Palace of Culture and Science celebrated its 60th birthday.

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A photograph taken by Chris Niedenthal in a meat store, Warsaw 1982. photo: press material

We won’t go to such extremes as Bear Grylls, but during difficult times like World War II or the communist period, Poles had to prove their creativity by keeping their lives as normal as possible.

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Milk bars are egalitarian diners where you can eat a portion of pierogi in thirty minutes or less, and they are popular with every social category. Milk bars are often considered a communist legacy, but in fact their existence predates the communist era.

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Helena Mniszkówna, Warsaw, 1909, photo by Jadwiga Golcz, from the Collection of Museum of Literature / East News

Freedom of speech, which is nowadays an obvious right in Poland, was non-existent under the communist regime. Communist Poland’s censorship often exercised the power to block films, articles, books and basically all other forms of public expression. The works of the seven writers below were banned entirely under these policies.

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20 floor-tall Palace of Culture and Science , 1952, Warsaw, photo: FoKa/ Forum

There is a building everybody who has visited Warsaw remembers. It has been a bone of contention for fifty years and still evokes extreme emotions. It has 42 floors, consumes as much energy as a town of 30,000, and remains the tallest skyscraper in Poland, even though it was built in the 1950s. Get to know the twisted history of Warsaw’s Palace of Culture.

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Delving into the history of communist Poland doesn’t have to be a sad experience. Under the terrible communist regime Poles managed to create great works of culture, achieve sports successes and make wonderful material objects. Among the laudable things created in communist Poland are well-designed domestic car prototypes, eight of which are described below.

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1989. Round Table Talks, photo: Jaroslaw Stachowicz / Forum

In 1989, the communist regime in Poland was in decline. The ruling communist party was like a fighter who had been knocked down several times and awaited the final blow. Yet the Polish walk to freedom was not to be ended by a one-sided, winner-takes-all victory for the democratic opposition. Get to know the history of the Polish Round Table Talks.

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Still from the film House on Its Head (Wojciech Zamecznik – Dom na głowie). In the photo: Wojciech Zamecznik, source: promotional materials

House on Its Head is based on film footage from Wojciech Zamecznik's private archive, selected and interpreted by Adam Palenta. The nineteen-minute film presents private life hand in hand with the artistic one.

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