More pictures from a visit to Warsaw in 2010.
At first, it was hard to reconcile Warsaw the modern city with all the bloodshed that had happened there during World War II and the Holocaust.
Warsaw’s municipal symbol is the Syrenka or mermaid. This statue in the restored Old Town Market Place (Rynek Starego Miasta) dates back to 1855.
An outdoor exhibit commemorating the Warsaw Uprising.
Accordion player on a Warsaw street.
I wish I had more time to contemplate and emotionally absorb what I was seeing while visiting the Ghetto. Most of the rubble of the Ghetto has been built over, but a few landmarks remain. This memorial, with inscriptions in Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew dates from 1946. In the foreground is a memorial candle.
“Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue” is an art installation by Joanna Rajkowska. To quote the artist: “It is an attempt to infuse with Israel’s scenery Warsaw’s Jerusalem Avenue – a street whose name and history, in return, sends the observer back to Israel. In another way, the palm tree refers to a popular idiomatic expression in the Polish language that indicates something unthinkable, outside common understanding, escaping the usual way of reasoning.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The image of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Soviet Union during the Polish-Soviet War, loomed over pedestrians in Warsaw.
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.