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The restoration of Polish cities from WW2 destruction


pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
18 Feb 2009  #1

I have always been fascinated with the process of rebuilding of Polish major cities after the WW2. For me it is an amazing phenomenon. There had been a city, next there were ruins, which eventually turned into a city again. Pure magic!

Let`s see how much effort Poles had to put into the work.

Warsaw should go first as Poland`s capital and most heroic city ever.

The losses of Warsaw during WW2:
1. 800.000 people dead (that is twice as much as American army casualties which amounted to 400.000).

80 percent of the left riverside Warsaw ceased to exist, with such major districts as the Old Town, the New Town and Downtown.

10% in September 1939, 10% during Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Germans levelled the Jewish district to the ground), 30% during Warsaw Uprising 1944. The remaining 30% are houses intentionally destroyed by German demolition units which carried Hitler`s mad order to eradicate Warsaw from the surface of the earth.

Warsavians who had survived the war and started coming back to their city after being forcefully expelled by Germans, saw the ocean of ruins in the place where once beautiful city was located.

Some examples

The church of St. Alexander
King Zygmunt III column lies on the ground, broken--
King Zygmunt III column lies on the ground, broken

The Royal Castle

The Royal Castle
1945 - the total destruction

Katedra Jana--

Krasiński Palace - only the front wall was left. I cant` show you the photo now.
strony.aster.pl/stolice/pliki/wa_krasinskich01.jpg

Prudential - the pre-war skyscraper

It had a very strong construction of welded steel beams. The famous picture shows the building hit by a 2-ton shell from the heaviest mortar ever used by Germans during the Warsaw Uprising.
Warsaw Uprising--

The ruin of the Polish Bank was only partly rebuilt after the war, like that famous building in Hiroshima, as a war memento.

Hiroshima - the Bomb Dome

The Old Town
Warszawa_Rynek--

warsaw-wiosna--
stare-miasto--
Harry Activity: 59 / 11,824
Joined: 2 May 2007 ♂
 
18 Feb 2009  #2

The remaining 30% are houses intentionally destroyed by German demolition units which carried Hitler`s mad order to eradicate Warsaw from the surface of the earth.

His exact order was that Warsaw be turned into "a lake".

My two favourite pieces of trivia about the rebuilding of Warsaw is where the materials came from for the Old/New town (cities like Szczecin and Wroclaw 'donated' millions of bricks) and the Muranow estate (built from (and on top of) the rubble of the former ghetto; according to the architect that was to represent a phoenix rising from the flames, according to more practical souls it was because there was no money to transport the rubble away and no money for building materials either).
Trevek Activity: 27 / 1,708
Joined: 21 May 2008 ♂
 
18 Feb 2009  #3

Apparently the great door lock in the castle was able to be restored in detail because the great lock at Blenheim Palace in England is a copy of it. Researchers were able to go an study it.
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
18 Feb 2009  #4

Wow!

Lock on Doors of Blenheim's Great Hall
Original caption: 3/24/50-Woodstock, England: This ingenious lock on the main doors of Blenheim's Great Hall was copied from one on the gates of Warsaw. Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace 75 years ago.


Pulling down damaged houses in Warsaw, Poland:

Not all quarters were reconstructed. Unfortunately, socialist planners decided not to rebuild most of bourgeoisie houses.

Muranów before the war

Muranow

Turned into ghetto by Nazis was later razed to the ground except for one church.

Poland Ghetto

They rebuilt it as a socialist estate of blocks

Other were rebuilt but with modifications, e.g., tenement houses were deprived of their bourgeoisie decorations.

Warsaw rebuilt

Or the church of St. Alexander

1939

1944

40-50s

Poland foto

2007

Alexander Poland

in this way the church regained its original form from 1860

Three Church Warsaw

Look at the map of pre-war Warsaw (second map on the site). Red colour means totally destroyed buildings which weren`t rebuilt, green means reconstructed or preserved ones.

E.g., one square

It`s true that communists allowed to rebuild the Old Town and many things but they did a lousy job to most of pre-war architecture.

Check this site- moving on an old photo you get a contemporary view.
The second photo shows a synagogue today replaced by a skyscraper:

The second photo shows that even the Old Town wasn`t reconstructed completely....

The first photo shows that only one building was restored in the long street.

The once posh elegant Marshall Street turned into a socialist architectonic nightmare

Oh, my, Warsaw was once called the Paris of the East!

Links from this site: warszawa.przedwojenna.prv.pl
Harry Activity: 59 / 11,824
Joined: 2 May 2007 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #5

Not all quarters were reconstructed. Ufortunately, socialist planners decided not to rebuild most of bourgeaisie houses.

Not only that, they also pulled down undamaged houses! A fair number were pulled down for the MDM development, others for the Palace of Culture



Turned into ghetto by Nazis was later razed to the ground except for one church.

They rebuilt it as a socialist estate of blocks.

It's more social-realist than socialist. I really like the place (which is one reason I live there).
szkotja2007 Activity: 29 / 1,540
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #6

They made a good job of Gdansk too, but I dont know how extensive the damage was.
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #7

I am going to show Gdańsk too. Actually, I already presented it in another thread. But now this thread is Total! It includes all.

Not only that, they also pulled down undamaged houses! A fair number were pulled down for the MDM development, others for the Palace of Culture

Yes, correct. Poor Warsaw!

It's more social-realist than socialist. I really like the place (which is one reason I live there).

I am really sorry. :):):):)
PolskaDoll Activity: 29 / 2,138
Joined: 15 Jun 2007 ♀
 
19 Feb 2009  #8

Turned into ghetto by Nazis was later razed to the ground except for one church.

Do you know why they left that one church when they flattened the everything else?
Harry Activity: 59 / 11,824
Joined: 2 May 2007 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #9

There are two theories: one nice and one practical. The nice one is that the Germans didn't want to upset the Catholic Poles by demolishing a Catholic church. I think that explanation is bollocks (the Nazis proved time and again how little Poles mattered to them) and much prefer the practical one: the church made an excellent spot for snipers and artillery spotters to keep watch over the whole area of the former ghetto.
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #10

Do you know why they left that one church when they flattened the everything else?

Yes.

During the Ghetto Rising 43, Germans used the church as a storage house for looted goods. During Warsaw Rising 44 they used the tower as machine gun and observation post. They planned to blow it up too but somehow didn`t.
pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko%C5%9Bci%C3%B3%C5%82_%C5%9Bw._Augustyna_w_Warszawie
The view is really appalling.
Harry Activity: 59 / 11,824
Joined: 2 May 2007 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #11

During the Ghetto Rising 43, Germans used the church as a storage house for looted goods.

Rather like the reason that the Nożyk Synagogue survived the war (the Nazis used it as a stable).
PolskaDoll Activity: 29 / 2,138
Joined: 15 Jun 2007 ♀
 
19 Feb 2009  #12

I see, now it makes sense. Thanks Harry and pawian. :)

Yesterday I was reading about the re-building of Szczecin after WWII. Do you have any pictures of that pawian?
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #13

Do you have any pictures of that pawian?

Plenty. But Szczecin is not my favourite city so I am going to post about it at the end. :):):)
PolskaDoll Activity: 29 / 2,138
Joined: 15 Jun 2007 ♀
 
19 Feb 2009  #14

lol - OK. I'll wait patiently. :)

Looking forward to your other pictures though. Good thread. :)
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
19 Feb 2009  #15

Looking forward to your other pictures though. Good thread. :)

Restoration is so fascinating because it reminds me of resurrection. In a sense, Poland resurrected after WW2, though had been doomed for destruction by Nazis and Soviets.

OK, one more post about Warsaw today. I think I already posted parts of it here and there, but this thread is Total.

Paintings by Belotto/Canaletto from 18 century were used in rebuilding the city.

krakowskie przedm.-

1945

1945-

Today

miodowa-

Ulica Świętokrzyska

Before the war

Before the war-

1945

1945-

Today

warszawa-

After the war the passage still stands

plackrasinskich1958-

Nothing in 1980.

plackrasinskich1983-

Today, the new Court building

one broken link...removed
HWPiel Activity: 1 / 64
Joined: 10 Oct 2008 ♂
 
21 Feb 2009  #16

I believe that UNESCO funded, and conducted drives for funds for the rebuilding of Europe after WW2; especially in Poland.

Henry
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
21 Feb 2009  #17

Hmmmm.
Probably you mistake UNESCO with UNRRA.

If you read somewhere about UNESCO, it was probably in the context of rebuilding cultural ties between former enemies in post war times.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations established on 16 November 1945. Its stated purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.[1] It is the heir of the League of Nations' International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was proposed to the United States Congress by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 9, 1943 to provide relief to areas liberated from Axis powers after World War II. Roosevelt had already obtained the approval of the governments of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China, and sought to obtain the endorsement of 40 other governments to form the first "United Nations" organization.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNRRA

Gdańsk before the war

Poland Gdansk

Poland Gdansk

The city was seiged by Soviet Russian army and Germans put up fanatic resistance, as usual. When taken, the city was plundered and burnt by victors for many days.

Poles, under communist party orders, rebuilt the parts of the city which were of biggest historical value or sustained lesser damage.

Today`s Gdańsk, though beautifuul, is the shadow of what Gdańsk used to be before the war.

1945

Polands

Poland

Unique films depicting pre and post war Gdańsk.

More pics, from 1946:
Randal Activity: 1 / 579
Joined: 14 Feb 2009 ♂
 
23 Feb 2009  #18

Nice photo documentation of Polish resilience. Great thread!
pixelpusher Activity: - / 2
Joined: 6 Mar 2009 ♂
 
6 Mar 2009  #19

I have always been fascinated with the process of rebuilding of Polish major cities after the WW2. For me it is an amazing phenomenon. There had been a city, next there were ruins, which eventually turned into a city again. Pure magic!

It was, and is, a tremendous achievement, but it wasn't pure magic. This success story has a dark side. In order to rebuilt Warsaw the Communists teared down several former German towns. Wroclaw is the most prominent example, but Jelenia Gora or Legnica are more interesting. Wroclaw was badly damaged, but Jelenia Gora was a fully preserved town, which was demolished until the 60s. Ditto for the town center of Legnica.
1jola Activity: 17 / 1,926
Joined: 23 Sep 2008 ♂
 
6 Mar 2009  #20

Pawian.

Good thread. You might be interested in this great website/forum. Scroll down to the Warsaw section:

kolejkamarecka.pun.pl/forums.php
Davey Activity: 14 / 391
Joined: 29 Jun 2007 ♂
 
6 Mar 2009  #21

Does anyone else find it extremely ironic that the English name for Warszawa is Warsaw?
polishcanuck Activity: 7 / 464
Joined: 11 Feb 2007 ♂
 
7 Mar 2009  #22

Here's another website where you can see before/after pictures of specific locations in Warszawa:
stalus.iq.pl
ZIMMY Activity: 7 / 1,609
Joined: 21 Feb 2009 ♂
 
7 Mar 2009  #23

I have always been fascinated with the process of rebuilding of Polish major cities after the WW2. For me it is an amazing phenomenon

I've wondered about that as well. No Marshall Plan for Poland but hard work. An amazing feat. Thank you for the pictures.
pixelpusher Activity: - / 2
Joined: 6 Mar 2009 ♂
 
7 Mar 2009  #24

That is very interesting. I knew about Wrocław but didn`t about Legnica and Jelenia Góra. I have aerial pics of those towns and indeed, a lot of houses are missing, even whole streets, it looks like black holes. But I thought they were so ruined it wasn`t worth rebuilding them.

Jelenia Gora wasn't ruined at all. It gets even more interesting: what you see today are reconstructions! More or less the complete old town was dismantled until the 60s and later rebuilt. Todays rynek is a reconstruction in more simple forms. Pure madness, if you think about it.
Legnica looked like this after the war and before it was dismantled (the old quarter was a rare example of Frederician baroque):
wroclaw.hydral.com.pl/33964,foto.html
Today it looks like this:
wroclaw.hydral.com.pl/21916,foto.html

But you don't have to stop here. Warsaws churches were destroyed too. When these churches were rebuilt churches from former German territory provided the interiors. The most prominent example is Lubiąż, which provided more than 30 paintings for Warsaw, whereas the stalls are in Stężyca now. That's why the church looks like this today:
wroclaw.hydral.com.pl/98369,foto.html
Harry Activity: 59 / 11,824
Joined: 2 May 2007 ♂
 
10 Mar 2009  #25

Ulica Świętokrzyska

Before the war

Today

Those photos are taken from pretty much the same location but facing in opposite directions (prewar shot looks east, postwar looks west). The building in the prewar photo with a flag on the top has been reconstructed and is now Warsaw's main post office. One of the reasons that the destruction was more intense is that the edge of the ghetto was pretty much where those photos were taken and the ghetto was to the west of that spot.
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
10 Mar 2009  #26

One of the reasons that the destruction was more intense is that the edge of the ghetto was pretty much where those photos were taken and the ghetto was to the west of that spot.

Yes, today`s Świętokrzyska Street is located in the area where the Ghetto used to be.
eric_the_nave Activity: - / 30
Joined: 27 Jul 2007 ♂
 
10 Mar 2009  #27

Why wasn't Krakow destroyed - did the Russians arrive too quickly or did the German commander disobey orders???
niejestemcapita Activity: 2 / 563
Joined: 3 Jan 2009 ♀
 
10 Mar 2009  #28

Why wasn't Krakow destroyed

Orders eric orders from the top
pawian Activity: 134 / 6,657
Joined: 30 May 2008 ♂
 
10 Mar 2009  #29

Why wasn't Krakow destroyed - did the Russians arrive too quickly or did the German commander disobey orders???

There are various stories about it. The most popular one attributes the saving of the city to fast Soviet offensive. Allegedly, the Pope had sent a letter to Roosevelt asking him to press Stalin to take special care of two holy cities: Kraków and Częstochowa. :)
Ogorki Activity: - / 118
Joined: 4 Aug 2008 ♂
 
10 Mar 2009  #30

It was, and is, a tremendous achievement, but it wasn't pure magic. This success story has a dark side. In order to rebuilt Warsaw the Communists teared down several former German towns. Wroclaw is the most prominent example, but Jelenia Gora or Legnica are more interesting. Wroclaw was badly damaged, but Jelenia Gora was a fully preserved town, which was demolished until the 60s. Ditto for the town center of Legnica.

These towns were in Germany before the war and were full of Germans. When the Russians advanced to Germany these towns were bombarded and destroyed to get rid of the German soldiers - just like Gdansk. Legnica was on the way to Dresden one of the main Russian advances. Legnica was shelled by Russians - Dresden was bombed by bomber harris to path the way for Red army. After the war these towns were already rubble - including Wroclaw. It's quote probable that the rubble was taken to Warsaw but warsaw had plently of rubble of it's own. The huge stadium over the river was made from rubble from the city. warsaw was not lacking in rubble.

There are various stories about it. The most popular one attributes the saving of the city to fast Soviet offensive. Allegedly, the Pope had sent a letter to Roosevelt asking him to press Stalin to take special care of two holy cities: Kraków and Częstochowa. :)

A German general who was based in Krakow did not agree to the sensless distruction of the city and ignored hitlers order. Warsaw was not considered an important historical city.



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The restoration of Polish cities from WW2 destruction
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