A Day in Warsaw (1)

Poland has been on my mind recently. Some necessary context: I am an American Jew with three great-grandparents who immigrated from the pre-World War II borders of Poland in the early 20th Century.  I’ll hold off on writing about the current political climate and controversies and my perspective on Polish/Jewish history for now.  Instead, I’ll just share a few pictures from a sunny September day in 2010 that I spent in Warsaw.

Warsaw 166-002
The death of Poland’s President Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria and ninety-four other dignitaries in a plane crash was a national tragedy. Adding to the traumatic nature of the event was that the President’s plane crashed in Russia on its way to a ceremony commemorating the Katyn massacre of 1940.  Half a year after the plane crash, Poles still gathered in front of the Presidential Palace to pay tribute to those who had died.
Warsaw 167-003
The mourning for the victims of the plane crash was marred by a fight over the placement of a memorial cross by the Presidential Palace, which became a flashpoint of an argument between conservative, centrist and liberal Poles.  Days after this picture was taken, the cross (not pictured) would finally be moved from the Presidential Palace to a nearby church.
Warsaw 173-001
The Józef Piłsudski Museum organized an open-air exhibit commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw, a key event of the Polish-Soviet War.
Warsaw 169-002
The image of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Soviet Union during the Polish-Soviet War, loomed over pedestrians in Warsaw.
Warsaw 174-001
Equivocation and obfuscation: The exhibit’s text reads “during the years of 1919-1920, visual propaganda played an enormous role in mobilizing the armies of both sides to battle…on the Polish side, posters proved to be works of art…they concentrated on a message in poignant ways, often based on stereotypes.”  Stereotypes of whom, I wonder? The exhibit fails to explain, contextualize or overtly acknowledge the Anti-Semitism in some of these posters.

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