The name of the website can be misleading – Warsaw Rising brings to mind the courageous, yet often questioned, 1944 insurrection of the inhabitants of Warsaw against the Nazi occupiers. And although Warsawrising.eu was initialised by the Warsaw Uprising Museum, and co-produced by the German Topography of Terror Foundation, the story presented on the website is much broader. One realises that the struggle for freedom and independence, which began in 1939, lasted long after 1945.
The Warsaw Rising 1944 website was launched in 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Rising, in parallel with an exhibition in The Topography of Terror history museum in Berlin.
In essence, the website is a summary of what one could’ve learnt from the exhibition. In a good way, however; the experience is much more intimate and thoughtful.
The website presents the history of Warsaw from 1918 – the time when Warsaw, the so-called Paris of the East, was a vibrant city, the development of which was interrupted by the Second World War. Special attention is drawn to the 63 days of fighting that was the Warsaw Uprising – and the price which Warsaw and Poland paid for its love of freedom. The story ends with the city reborn after years of totalitarian enslavement; one can see a dynamically developing city which escaped its sentence and became a leader in this part of Europe.
The fully interactive website, besides its historical and social value, has an attractive appearance. The authors of the creative concept and development of the site, BrightMedia, implemented an impeccable and stylish yet appropriate design, an excellent choice of colours, well-thought navigation and a sensible division of content (the story of Warsaw is split into 10 chapters) – all the visitor has to do is scroll and click, enjoy and absorb. The website is available in three languages: Polish, English and German.
Each of the ten chapters contains plenty of multimedia: photographs, archival documents and posters, short biographies of the key characters (including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin), animated infographics (which, for example, help one comprehend the military supremacy of the two invaders over Polish army’s potential), authentic audio and video recordings, maps (showing the progress of the war and the uprising) and subtle graphics.
The content is also rich in numerous quotes from speeches, diaries, and poems by both the heroes and the antiheroes of the time. The website’s authors used audio and video fragments of the popular and touching chronicles City of Ruins and Warsaw Rising, archives from the National Photo Collection, Polish Radio (including the famous Nocturne cis-moll performed by Władysław Szpilman), and from a dozen of other international historical institutions.
Warsawrising.eu is a modern, well thought out and well-balanced repository of knowledge with an excellent media setting. In April 2015, the website won two Webby Awards – for best Cultural Institution and the 2015 People’s Voice award. The director of the Warsaw Rising Museum, Jan Ołdakowski, didn’t hide his pride and feeling of fulfilment:
We’ve been presented with the main prize in the Cultural Institution category and a prize appointed by web users from all over the world – the People’s Voice. What’s interesting is that nearly two thousand of the most important people from the world of new technology, including the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Arianna Huffington, Twitter creator Biz Stone, as well as music and film stars, like David Bowie and Kevin Spacey, gave their votes in the first of the two categories.
The website, as well as the former exhibition in Berlin, is addressed mostly to the young generation:
We would like to show the phenomenon of the 63 days of fighting for the freedom and sovereignty of Poland. Our aim is to heighten historical awareness of visitors from around the world and deepen the knowledge of the course of WWII, which often remains fragmentary.
– said Jan Ołdakowski, director of the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
Source: warsawrising.eu. Author: Agata Dudek-Woyke, 29/04/15.