The exhibition at the History Meeting House presents unique photographs documenting the reconstruction of Poland's capital city in the years 1945-1952.
Warsaw, 1950, pl. Napoleon (now pl. Powstańców Warszawy), photo: press materials
The exhibition at the History Meeting House, prepared by Warsaw historians Jerzy S. Majewski and Tomasz Markiewicz, presents unique photographs documenting the reconstruction of Poland's capital city in the years 1945-1952
It shows the sheer scale of the destruction and presents monuments which were reconstructed after the Second World War, as well as those which disappeared from the face of the city during the reconstruction period. The exposition consists of over 120 photographs, many of them shown for the first time ever, coming from the collections of the Mazowsze Province Department of Listed Buildings (including photographer Karol Pęcherski's collection), FORUM, the Polish Press Agency, State archives of the Metropolitan City of Warsaw and the National Digital Archives.
The exhibition recalls political decisions that determined the rebuilding of Warsaw (including Bierut's decree, which led to taking over almost all the city's lands by the state) and people employed by BOS (Office for the Reconstruction of the Capital City), which was responsible for the organising and designing projects and till this day lays down a decisive urbanistic form of the city's center: the GM route, MDM, industrial districrts of the Old Town and Royal Route.
Nowadays, the reconstruction of Warsaw is often subjected to criticism. Hundreds or even thousands of burned-out tenements have been demolished, of which at least a part could be rebuilt. Only a few buildings from the 19th/20th century remained, which nevertheless decided about the architectural image of the city before its destruction in 1944. At the same time, the reconstruction of historical monuments of the Royal Route and New and Old Town was a innovative project, undertaken on such a scale for the first time in history- never before has anyone rebuilt a city destroyed by the war on a similar scale. This decision breached the then valid conservation doctrine which opposed to reconstructing historical monuments. Even after the war, Germans, the English, Dutch, or Italians rebuilt only a few historical buildings.
The rebuilding, apart from all the glory, also had its shadows - for the political effect, costs did not matter. Extant tenement houses were demolished, despite the housing starvation in the destroyed city, for the implementation of insane urbanistic visions, with the garish example of the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science. Private reconstructions, whereby the center of Warsaw maintained its pleasant alleys from Chmielna, through Marszałkowska to Nowy Świat was dissembled. In other political realities, the capital’s image would be different, probably more humanly and at some point it could even be a true metropolis, without any artificial socialist realism pathos, says Tomasz Markiewicz, co-creator of the exhibition.
.In 1980, Warsaw's reconstructed Old Town was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In Spring 2011 UNESCO declared the archives of the Office for the Reconstruction of the Capital City (which was established already in 1945) as one of the most valuable collections of documentary heritage of humanity and inscribed it on the prestigious Memory of The World list. Documents of the BOS can be viewed online at: www.szukajwarchiwach.pl
Opening: 7 July 2011.
The exhibition runs through the 15th of November 2011.
History Meeting House / Dom Spotkań z Historią
ul. Karowa 20
tel. 22 255 05 05
fax. 22 255 05 04
Source: press release