Wednesday May 21st ~ Warsaw, Poland
With a population of 1.7 million people Warsaw is the capital of Poland. During World War II, they were devastated with as much as 85% of their buildings destroyed. Like a Phoenix, they have rebuilt and emerged as not only a restored city, but now the 9th largest city in the EU.
Chopin Monument, Lazienki Park
The Fryderyk Chopin Monument was a long time being erected, the Russians forbidding it and the First World War delaying the project further. It was only completed in 1926, during Poland’s Independence. In 1940 it was blown up by the Nazis and disappeared, but by 1958 had been copied from the original records and was back in place. Today this magnificent sculpture by Waclaw Szymanoski is one of Warsaw’s most famous symbols.
In fact, this is a town of monuments, statues and memorials.
It was the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 that started World War II. Under German Nazi control, all higher learning institutions were closed down, and the Jewish population (several hundred thousand people, roughly 30% of Warsaw) were herded into one area which became known as the Jewish Ghetto.
As part of Hitler’s “Final Solution”, orders were given to annihilate the ghetto. In 1943, the Jewish fighters launched an uprising where they were able to hold off the German’s for almost a month. But in the end, almost all the Jewish population were murdered.
Hitler later gave orders for the entire city of Warsaw to be destroyed. And he almost succeeded. This picture was on a post near the main square:
Today the city center in old town is vibrant with an abundance of color, rebuilt in the original style, filled with flowers, artists paintings, cafe’s with umbrella covered tables, and a center fountain.
And the city has other buildings that stand up and grab your attention…
Two things today were not included on our tour, but offered as an option. The first was a visit to Wilanow Palace, a royal palace that survived both WWI and WWII.
The exterior and English garden areas were filled with ornate statuary. The rose garden was just about to bloom.
The interior is a museum, each room decorated in period furnishings.
And the second option was to attend a Chopin concert. It was a small venue, but Tim and I got the perfect seat. Front row with a direct view of the keyboard. It was an hour-long performance with a break in the middle for champagne or orange juice. I did not recognize most of the pieces that were played, until the final composition. After the performance our pianist graciously signed my program and allowed a photo.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the music of Chopin. Even if most of it was unfamiliar to me, I could still get great enjoyment seeing it so skillfully played.