01 August 2018 marks the 74th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, and if you happen to be in the city on Wednesday, at 17:00, don’t be shocked to hear sirens wailing, cars at a standstill, drivers pumping their horns, and people setting off red and white flares, for all this is done as an act of remembrance.
We’ve written plenty on the Uprising since IYP has been stationed in Warsaw, from giving you the historical background, photos of commemorations, showing you the latest photo essays on the subject, contrasting photos of then and now, to locations of street art dedicated to the Uprising. What we see each year, no matter the differences in opinion on the subject, and political divides, a city stands still to commemorate those who died fighting the Nazi occupiers.
Now, you can easily read up on the subject in our very guide, but this year, we want to show show you something different…
When the topic of World War II and the Warsaw Uprising come up, it’s often mentioned how Warsaw was destroyed and rebuilt through a monumental effort by Polish citizens. Despite becoming a slick modern city, there are still signs of the Uprising all around, battle scars which remain on the face of Warsaw, often intentionally preserved as a reminder of the terrible times the city once endured.
To that end, if you are in Warsaw in August/September, you may well experience the sirens wailing at 17:00 on 01 August, and you may indeed visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum (which we wholly recommend), however, even on your way to other tourist hot spots, the signs of the Uprising can be easily spotted, if you just know where to look…
On your way to Hala Koszyki
Walking from the city centre to Hala Koszyki along ul. Emilii Plater is often a pleasant walk for many tourists, even locals, who enjoy the feel of the area, with streets like Hoża, Wilcza, Nowogrodzka all full to the brim with fantastic cafes, restaurants and bars, set among a crazy mix of mainly pre-war buildings, with a few Communist-era ones thrown in for good measure. It’s on ul. Emilii Plater that you will see two buildings (at no. 7 and no.4) which still show bullet holes on their facades.
The building at no.7 has even had a few street art elements added, with someone covering the holes with plasters, marked with the PW sign, a symbol of wartime resistance (PW/Polska Walcząca = Poland is still fighting).
At no. 4, all around the windows on the 1st floor, you will see bullet holes and shrapnel marks, left here, despite a very recent renovation of the building.
Down by the River at the Vistulan Boulevards (Bulwary Wiślane)
If going down by the river is more your thing (and why not, this is where half the city’s population goes in summer), you need not walk far to see yet more signs of the Uprising. Getting off at Metro Centrum Nauki Kopernik, walking along to ul. Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 35 (the entrance to the Academy of Fine Arts), and you will see yet more bullet holes dotted around the windows and entrance.
Very near the Old Town, at ul. Bielańska 10, is the former building of Bank Polski, which saw heavy fighting during the Uprising. Although renovated in the 1990s, the outer walls and wartime damage were maintained as a form of remembrance. A PW anchor stands in front, often accompanied by lit candles throughout the year.
Even going to Warsaw’s party strip on ul. Mazowiecka, you will see scars of the Uprising…
Despite being known for containing many bars, clubs and restaurants, you may not immediately come here expecting to see wartime damage, although if you’re walking around the city, perhaps on your way to Piłsudski Square or the Old Town, this is the street to go along. While you’re here, stop at ul. Mazowiecka 11A, the headquarters of the Warsaw District of the Association of Polish Visual Artists. Beyond the gate, the building has been modernised but the gated entrance itself has been left almost untouched to preserve the wartime damage from the Uprising.
And there you have it. Although we’ve highlighted only a few locations near tourist locations, keep your eyes peeled, for Warsaw is littered with the scars of the past.