Magnificent rebuilding after total, comprehensive destruction
09.06.2011 - 09.06.2011 22 °C
Visually, Warsaw Old Town is less impressive than its Krakow counterpart. The massive 13th-century Royal Castle that dominates Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) does not have the architectural appeal of its Krakow counterpart.
Likewise the magnificent Rynek Starego Miasta (Old Town Market Square) is both smaller and less appealing than Krakow’s Rynek Glowny. Yet, a visit to the excellent Warsaw Rising Museum places some perspective on these visuals.
After suffering unimaginable brutality under the Nazi regime since 1939 the reversal in fortunes of the German army and the arrival of the Red Army in the suburbs of Warsaw generated a popular uprising against the remaining German forces. On August 1st 1944 thousands rose up against the Nazi oppressors. However, whilst the element of surprise helped them, initially, the German army was quick to respond. With limited support from the Allies and with the Red Army standing on the opposite bank of the Vistula, the German suppression of the uprising was vicious and total. By its conclusion more than 200,000 Poles lay dying with the Nazi oppressors having regained Warsaw.
In retaliation, Hitler ordered the complete eradication of Warsaw. No two stones were to be left standing together. With German efficiency buildings were numbered in order of cultural importance and destroyed in that order. As Hitler promised but failed to do to Paris so he had succeeded with in Warsaw. However, whilst many died during and after the uprising at the hands of the Germans many more, including the leaders of the Uprising were put to death by the occupying Red Army for their anti-Soviet practices.
The Old Town we had viewed that morning was completely destroyed by the Nazis. After the war all the buildings we had seen were superbly rebuilt from their foundations, using pictures and memories from before the War, earning Old Town a place on Unesco’s World Heritage List. Whilst in both scale and architecture Krakow maybe more impressive the scale of rebuilding in Warsaw’s Old Town is nothing short of miraculous.