CULTURE OF CONSERVATION IN CITIES
FOUR: WARSAW: THE HERITAGE OF WAR
* Copyright © 2001 by Anthony M.
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CULTURE OF CONSERVATION IN CITIES
Cities, like dreams,
are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse
is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful,
and everything conceals something else.
Calvino, Invisible Cities
The culture of
cities has always been as complex, contradictory, cruel, and wondrous
as the general blend of darkness and light manifested by our species
as a whole. As the metropolis has grown to a hundred thousand, a
million, twenty million inhabitantswith just as many "dreams
made of desires and fears"the culture of cities has,
to different degrees, offset this chaotic diversity and binds together
the inhabitants of urban places in life-affirming common purpose.
In this book I ask why
some cities preserve their heritage better or more readily than
others. My years of investigation have shown that the most truthful,
all-encompassing, and succinct answer to this question is that a
sensitivity to conservation has evolved in their culture. There
are of course specific legal, economic, historical, social, political,
and physical circumstances involved in this question, but their
complex interrelationship can only be described as cultural. Preservation
is different in different places because the culture of every great
city is unique. And in our age of globalization and creeping homogeneity,
it is exactly this uniqueness that is in need of saving.
The culture of cities
is both visible and invisible, palpable and elusive. On the one
hand, we know the culture of urban environments from the experience
of being in them. Paris feels like Paris and noplace else, just
as the smells, sounds, sights, aura, and rhythms of life in Beijing,
Amsterdam, Kyoto, Venice, Jerusalem, and Mexico City become singularly
etched in our memories after just one visit. Yet while we may recognize
the cultures of different places, we cannot quantify any particular
culture in exact terms, in part because a city's culture is always
evolvinggrowing out of the past and changing at the moment
we attempt to define it.
In response to this dilemma,
my work on this book became, in part, a search for the genesis of
the conservation impulse, for moments when the significance of saving
urban culture was crystallized. Nonetheless, I was somewhat shocked
when I found that just such a decisive confirmation of the tangible
significance of historic buildings was activated by none other than
Adolf Hitler during World War II, when in order to subdue the Poles
he ordered the destruction of the monuments of Warsaw. In seeking
to destroy his enemies' courage, Hitler identified a primal source
of their strength.
Three decades later,
in Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino showed the meaning of
the culture of cities to an equally decisive degree, by writing
about imaginary urban places in poetic prose and capturing the essence
of urban identity through metaphors. In order to solve the similar
problem of making comprehensible the contradictions of cities, where
often "the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules
are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals
something else," I have chosen to write about the drama of
urban conservation by identifying important moments in history when
human events culminated in a clear clash of valueswhen common
sense, logic, law, and sometimes even the principles of physics
were defied. And because the corporeal material of the metropolis
is one of the elements that tie a city's people by invisible threads
to the past, I have endeavored to set such moments in the context
of each city's history, in urban profiles, so that tensions among
cultural values can be seen in terms of cultural evolution. The
preservation of great cities is ultimately the story of how different
urban societies created environments of extraordinary meaning, were
affected by their cityscapes through centuries of habitation, and
came to realize that the loss of old buildings involved much more
than just the vis-ible destruction of ancient bricks and stones.
THE HERITAGE OF WAR:
has to be pacified, that is, razed to the ground.
Things have different
costs in different places. In the ancient heart of Warsaw ice cream
is inexpensive and on Sunday afternoons the lines in front of popular
vendors are long and noisy, as grandparents, children, fathers,
mothers, aunts, uncles, and friends debate what flavors to sample.
A few of these people are foreign visitors, but most of them are
Poles. They purchase their ice cream on cones and stroll through
the historic medieval city, which has been meticulously re-created
down to the finest detail after its destruction in World War II.
Surrounded by the facsimile of their lost birthright, there is a
palpable feeling of pride in the air. It is one of the most wonderful
urban celebrations to be found anywhere in the world.
How important is our
architectural heritage? What limits will we place on the city's
future in order to preserve our cultural identity? What price are
we willing to pay to conserve a record of our history? Few places
have given as clear an answer to these questions as Warsaw. Here
people established the value of their monuments by what they were
willing to sacrifice. In Warsaw, a city's inhabitants endangered
their lives to save their past.
* * *
In Warsaw they fought.
That is the first and most important fact.
The Poles fought the
Germans again and again and again, refusing to be subdued. They
died by the hundreds of thousands in battles, concentration camps,
and ad hoc daily executions. And it was here, in the Warsaw Ghetto,
that members of the Jewish resistancerealizing the ultimate
futility of their desperate struggle and equipped with but a few
stolen guns, bricks, and homemade bombspitted themselves against
storm troopers wielding the most modern of military hardware.
Citizens in Warsaw resisted
the Third Reich, and by their dissent and death they put a price
on their metropolis. They established the price they would not pay
to keep it whole. They would not sell the soul of their city in
order to save its body. They would not refrain from resistance in
order to spare their metropolis from becoming a battleground. And
once it was evident that the cost of their defiance would be the
destruction of the city, Varsovian architects, planners, and teachers,
in a perilous act of disobedience, documented their architectural
past so it could be rebuilt sometime in an unknown but better future.
In Warsaw they fought,
and as a result the city and its people were almost totally eradicated,
and not just by the missiles, bombs, and bullets of combat. In Warsaw
the Nazis devised a systematic program of cultural annihilation.
German architects carefully
identified the historic monuments of the city: the most beautifully
proportioned buildings, the buildings designed by distinguished
architects, the buildings where famous Varsovians had lived, the
places where important historic events had taken place, the buildings
with gracious sculptural decoration, the buildings of symbolic importance,
the best examples of different architectural styles, the most meaningful
buildings of various periods, the proudest churches, the richest
palaces, the most beautiful homes, and the neighborhoods where the
architecture of Warsaw was knit into an artistic wholethe
panoply of Warsaw's pride, built across seven hundred years of history.
Then, having ascertained the patrimony of the metropolis, the German
occupational forces sent out squads to rob these places, to strip
them of their art and artifacts and, afterward, to dynamite the
architectural accomplishments of Polish culture. The structural
integrity of buildings was analyzed. Explosives were set and detonated
from a safe distance. In World War II, it became German national
policy that the culture of Warsaw be erased as a way to quash the
spirit of resistance among the Polish people.
the storm!" That was the motto of the city long before the
Germans attacked. Across hundreds of years of history, Warsaw and
the rest of Poland had endured defeat, annihilation, betrayal, and
subjugation by the Tartars, Teutonic knights, Swedes, Hungarians,
Transylvanians, Russians, French, Austrians, and Germans. In European
history, Poland was a country not allowed to become a nation.
Caught by geography and
fate between some of the major competing continental powers, Poland
was established as an autonomous kingdom in 1526, but by 1655 it
had already lost its independence to the Swedes. The country was
erased from the map of Europe by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in
three consecutive partitions in 1722, 1793, and 1795. It was taken
by the French in 1806, ruled by Russia under the Congress of Vienna,
subjugated once more after the Russo-Polish War, and occupied by
the Germans in World War I. Finally, in 1918, the country was given
back its independence, and thereafter, until the German invasion
in World War II, it experienced a brief and tantalizing era of freedom.
As in other European
countries, whose continuity of preservation law is anchored in the
first national statute promulgated after the emergence of the nation-state,
Poland began the effort to identify and conserve its heritage immediately
following its independence in 1918. A Ministry of Culture and Arts
responsible for the conservation of historic monuments was established,
and ten years later, in 1928, a remarkably comprehensive statute
was adopted by the Polish national legislature. The new law protected
landmarks, their surroundings, parks, gardens, monuments of nature,
and historic districts in urban areas. This is the earliest modern
preservation statute to recognize the significance of protecting
entire historic neighborhoods. It predates the special zoning statutes
of both Charleston (1931) and New Orleans (1932) in the United States,
as well as those in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Vienna,
which had formulated national preservation laws long before Poland
but had not empowered conservation authorities to restrict the development
of whole urban areas.
Having been denied a
national identity for centuries, the Polish people had a strong
desire to protect those manifestations of culture that were unique
to them. Even before Polish independence, several architects and
historians had attempted to identify a national architectural style
and to inventory the country's singular historic buildings. One
of the most important architectural clusters lay in the heart of
the capital city. The environment that had evolved here embodied
the historic building traditions of the nation more thoroughly than
any other place in Poland.
The Old Town of Warsaw
was first built up around a market square as a modest fortified
trading settlement and regional administrative center sometime in
the 1300s. By the fiftenth century it had become a ducal seat. In
1447 it expanded to include a New Town just to the north. As Poland
took its place as the breadbasket of Europe, the burghers of Warsaw
grew prosperous and transformed their wooden houses into handsome
masonry structures. In 1611, during the reign of Sigismund Augustus
III, the royal court was established in the city. An elegant castle
was erected, based on the designs of architects imported from Italy.
Numerous other noblemen's mansions soon embellished the growing
capital town and its suburbs. Within a few years, there were over
one hundred such elaborate residences and four grand palaces. Most
of these were in the Baroque style, and before long the burghers'
houses were undergoing similar stylistic transformations. The -settlement's
medieval defensive walls were periodically expanded. Numerous beautiful
churches were built, both within and outside the Old Town walls.
Across hundreds of years of building, the city had become a cherished
There was a Great Fire
in 1607. In 1620, Warsaw was struck by plague. In 1660, it was laid
waste by the Swedes, Hungarians, and Transylvanians. Mansions, palaces,
and churches were looted. Over 60 percent of the settlement was
leveled, and 70 percent of the population was killed. There was
an even more terrible fire in 1669, yet still the city did not vanish.
In the midst of another attack of plague, the Varsovians rebuilt
the Old Town. And the bricks, stones, and tiles of the city came
to be perceived as the cultural expression of a stubborn national
After its reconstruction,
the Old Town entered a long period of decline. The city was no longer
the capital of a nation. Wealthy families built their fashionable
houses in other parts of Warsaw, and the historic core became a
district for the middle class. By the 1900s maintenance had slowed,
and the number of residents in the Old Town grew as the poor moved
in. In comparison with the more modern neighborhoods of Warsaw,
the lack of sanitary infrastructure and amenities made the Old Town
a slum. Dilapidated, worn, and frayed, the proud old buildings nonetheless
retained their inherent beauty under a layer of grime.
Early in the twentieth
century, Warsaw was the focal point of a Polish cultural renaissance.
Theater, music, and journalism flourished. Poland briefly reassumed
nationhood. Universities were established and the city became a
sophisticated continental capital, frequently referred to by Poles
as the "Paris of the East." The Varsovians were justly
proud, for the modern industrial city that had grown up around the
historic core of the Old and New Towns was an integrated artistic
assemblage of traditional and classically inspired architecture,
adorned with fountains, public sculptures, parks, pleasure gardens,
cobbled streets, decorative ironwork, and elegant kiosks and streetlamps.
In 1927 the city hosted the International Chopin Competition for
Young Pianists. By the eve of the Blitzkrieg, Warsaw was one of
the most beautiful cities of Europe and held about 1.3 million -people,
for whom freedom was a precious and infrequent commodity.
by the Third Reich
1, 1939, when the first bombs were dropped on Warsaw by the Luftwaffe,
Poland had a multiethnic population of about 30 million people.
Over the next five years, one-fifth of these would be killed: about
6 million Poles, including virtually all of the more than 3 million
Jews. Of these many victims, it is estimated that only 600,000,
or 10 percent, were combatants killed in fighting. The vast majority
were executed, starved, or exterminated. There were seven German
concentration camps in Poland, two of whichAuschwitz and Treblinkawere
to become particularly infamous. In addition, millions of Russian
prisoners were jammed into camps and left to starve. And at over
four hundred other places a minimum of one hundred Polish civilians
were executed at a time, without trial.
Most of these ad hoc
murder locations are little known, but investigators have found
that when the authorities have failed to document the position of
such sites, rural neighbors have done so. Across Poland, there are
unused open fields where farmers do not plow, for they know that
to do so would disturb the remains of the murdered. Hidden in woodlands,
there are simple homemade monuments where the anonymous living remember
the anonymous dead. In Poland in World War II, the Germans perpetrated
a Polish genocide, a Jewish genocide, and a Russian genocide. They
reduced the country to a vast killing field and made Warsaw a city
Between 1939 and 1944
some 800,000 people, or 60 percent of Warsaw's population, were
killed and most of the town destroyed. The intent of this carnage
was chilling. The Nazis had decided to depopulate Poland and reconfigure
Warsaw to hold 130,000 German inhabitants occupying an area about
5 percent of the size of the prewar city. In Wurzburg, in Bavaria,
town planners of the Third Reich drafted precise drawings identifying
a historic area of "Germanic" architectural character
in which select old buildings would be saved (including a historic
castle to serve as Hitler's state residence), and a modern provincial
city would be built up around them. The Pabst Plan, composed of
fifteen drawings and a miniature architectural model, established
that the new German agricultural center would be located in the
sector around the Old and New Towns of Warsaw. (The Pabst Plan is
named for the German army architect Friedrich Pabst, who refined
the idea of destroying an enemy's national cultural identity by
destroying its physical manifestations: architecture, art, and historic
archives. The actual design for the new German city to be located
in the former site of Warsaw was created by another German army
architect, Hubert Gross.)
The first siege of Warsaw
was a bitter struggle that lasted three weeks. The Polish toll was
10,000 dead and 50,000 wounded. About 12 percent of the city's buildings
were extensively damaged. On September 17, the Russians advanced
across the eastern border of Poland, and Stalin and Hitler partitioned
the country according to a prearranged plan. Although the Soviets
would not remain allied to Germany, it is estimated that during
this brief period they were responsible for the death of about 1.2
In Warsaw, the Germans
were soon creating cities within the city: a German sector, a Polish
sector, and what the Nazis officially referred to as the Jewish
Quarter (Judenviertel), which came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto.
Prior to the war, the Jewish community in Warsaw had been a thriving
society of successful merchants, bankers, teachers, and professionals,
with the largest urban population of Jews in Europe. The community
had its own Yiddish theater, a Jewish press, and separate schools.
Now the Nazis ordered that a particularly dense area of tenements
be isolated, occupying about 760 acres, and that all of the city's
Jews be crowded inside. A 10-foot wall was built all around the
sector and guards posted on the perimeter.
The Warsaw Ghetto became
a holding tank for Jews collected from the surrounding countryside.
As more and more people were crowded together, more and more of
the inhabitants died from lack of food and from diseases caused
by the severely congested and unsanitary living conditions. It is
not known exactly how many Jews died in Warsaw. Estimates of the
resident population of the ghetto taken at different moments in
its short but traumatic history vary from 300,000 to 600,000 people.
To some extent, the inhabitants were dying as quickly as new victims
could be found and packed inside. Life in the ghetto had achieved
a virulent stasis with death.
For six centuries, Jewish
life in Warsaw had persisted and often thrived, but in the summer
of 1942, it came to an end. A message was sent to the German governor
of Warsaw by Heinrich Himmler: "A general plan for the destruction
of the city ghetto should be submitted to me. In any case, we must
arrive at the stage in which the residential area, which exists
at present for 500,000 sub-humans [Jews] and which has never been
suitable for Germans, will disappear from the face of the area,
and the city of Warsaw, with its million inhabitants, which has
always been a center of agitation and rebellion, should be reduced
The "final solution"
had emerged. At the rate of about 5,000 people a day, an estimated
350,000 ghetto residents were loaded onto -cattle cars and shipped
to the gas chambers. Some 60,000 Jews, weakened and primitively
armed, chose another fate: at dawn on April 19, 1943, the Warsaw
Ghetto uprising commenced. They fought against insurmountable odds
for twenty-eight days.
The German solution to
the urban guerrilla tactics of the Jewish resistance, the ZOB (Jewish
Combat Organization), was to quell the rebellion one building at
a time. With armed troops in attendance to act as execution squads,
the ghetto was razed structure by structure. Afterward, bulldozers
pulverized and leveled the broken pieces. The Germans had in effect
erased an urban area of about one square mile. No buildings remained,
no sidewalks, no streets, no greenjust a field of shards.
Outside the ghetto, the
harshness of the occupation resulted in a determined Polish underground
whose activities were in turn met by further German brutalities.
Ad hoc executions began to occur throughout the metropolis. After
the war, 220 commemorative markers would be erected in the city
in remembrance of the thousands of victims killed out of hand. The
price for resistance was death, but it also became clear that ultimately
the price for submission would be the same.
Early in the occupation,
the German governor of the city had received an order from Berlin
requiring him to "do everything -pos-sible to strip the city
of its traditional character as the focal point of the Polish Republic."
Because the Pabst Plan had initially left in place select historic
structures contributing to a contrived Germanic townscape, a team
of town planning and architectural experts had been required to
evaluate which old buildings might be saved as part of the new city.
(The elimination of the Jewish ghetto had always been a constituent
of this scheme.) Now the Germans used the scholarship of their experts
to perpetrate an intellectual obscenity. People who had been trained
to revere the beauty of architecture and of cities lent their knowledge
to the destruction of the very achievements to which they aspired.
In order to subdue the fighting spirit of the Poles, the Germans
attempted to eradicate their culture by destroying the most profoundly
meaningful aspects of Warsaw's cityscape. This is one of the most
revealing moments in the history of architectural conservation,
a juncture of extreme inversion of values. Perceiving the Germans'
intent, the Varsovians began a cultural counteroffensive.
One of the unexpected
phenomena of World War II was that in cities subject to bombardment,
planners recognized the inadvertent opening of a unique possibility
for advantageously restructuring the metropolis. With the Industrial
Revolution, modern cities had developed complex public and private
vested interests in buildings and infrastructure that made change
difficult. Each alteration of the city required the simultaneous
reconciliation of the needs of multiple constituencies. But during
the Second World War, with the introduction of indiscriminate strategic
bombardment, many explosions unintentionally eliminated this tangle
of vested interests. Unbeknownst to one another, in war-torn cities
across Europe, local planners were surveying the damage and developing
ideas for the reconstruction. Because this work had been done while
the war progressed, postwar rebuilding in many cities was substantially
advanced immediately upon the cessation of hostilities.
As Varsovian town planners
anticipated the damage to come, they too began a covert operation
to remake the city. Compared with their counterparts in France,
England, and Germany, however, the planners in German-occupied Warsaw
drew up such designs at risk of their lives, for the occupational
authorities had declared such activities illegal.
A covert Studio for Architecture
and Town Planning was secretly located in the Cooperative Building
Enterprise to study postwar needs for housing and industrialization.
(Its first director, prior to his deportation to Auschwitz, was
Szymon Syrkus, one of the noted pioneers of modern Polish architecture.)
The planning department of the municipal council, in association
with the Studio for Regional Planning, created a secret commission
of town planning experts to study the redevelopment of Warsawís
traffic circulation routes. Other illegal groups of architects were
formed spontaneously across the city. One of their documents, a
directive for Warsaw reconstruction, was written by the light of
the flames of the burning city and hidden in POW camps until the
end of the war, when it became a seminal reference for the reconstruction.
The most extraordinary
clandestine operation occurred among members of the faculty of architecture
of Warsaw Technical University. At the beginning of the century,
Polish architects had begun to document the landmarks of War-saw
through measured drawings and analytical studies. Once Poland became
an independent nation, its conservation bureaucracy assembled surveys
of the city's historic assets. Additionally, approximately a hundred
photographic studios had come to exist in Warsaw prior to World
War II; many of these had captured the cityscape in pictures. Now
such documentation would be critical if historic Warsaw was to be
rebuilt. In some instances, old paintings would also be quite useful,
especially a few highly detailed portraits of the city made in the
eighteenth century by the Venetian painter Bernardo Bellotto, the
nephew and student of Antonio Canaletto.
By command of the German
occupational force, the university had been reduced to a secondary
school for training in the building trades. In an act of moral resistance,
the professors and students of the defunct Department of Town Planning,
while pretending to do mechanical drafting exercises, continued
the education of the next generation of Polish professional planners
and architects. Over 150 students participated. In direct violation
of the German prohibition on planning, pupils developed studies
for the rebuilding of Warsaw. They predated their works so that,
if they were discovered, the drawings would appear to have been
created before the invasion. The documents were hidden in the monastery
of Piotrków, outside the city. After the war, Warsaw Technical
University would retroactively accredit twenty-three graduate papers,
nine doctoral dissertations, and eight postdoctoral studies.
And in response to the
waves of destruction that enveloped the city, members of the faculty
undertook the task of assembling photographs, sketches, and drafted
representations of Warsaw's historic structures. In a climate of
frequent arrests, deportations, and public executions, and before
the eyes of the gestapo, the studies continued. Methodically, the
legacy of Warsaw was recorded so that the past would not be stolen
from the children of the future. It is hard to imagine that ever
again will such important conservation scholarship be done under
such dangerous conditions.
On August 1, 1944, a
second Warsaw Uprising began, this led by a contingent from the
Polish Home Army. By this stage of World War II, two Polish governments-in-exile
now existed. One was located in London, the other in the Soviet
Union, and each claimed sovereignty over the em-battled city.
By September 17, Soviet
forces had reinvaded Poland from the east, this time as an ally
to the West and enemy of the Third Reich. The Soviets advanced to
within 75 miles of Warsaw and stopped. Fighting in the city was
furious and bloody, and the Varsovians were close to victory over
the Germans. But since the Polish Home Army was associated with
the London government-in-exile, the Soviets would not intercede
and help. They let the Germans prevail.
Much of the fighting
had occurred in the medieval cityscape of the Old and New Towns,
which was decimated by hundreds of thousands of explosions. The
continued insubordination by the Poles of Warsaw had caused the
Germans to reconsider whether they might refashion parts of the
historic city to their own uses after the war. With the Old and
New Towns in ruins, Hitler issued a final punitive order to completely
raze the city.
The Germans divided Warsaw
into zones and began a systematic eradication of the metropolis.
They had already ascertained which structures represented the most
significant parts of the Polish heritage. Selected buildings and
statues were officially marked for the "demolition and annihilation
squads." If blockfronts had an architectural unity, they were
fractured by destroying those buildings that most contributed to
the artistic whole. Corner buildingswhich are often more architecturally
dramatic and originalwere especially targeted.
As this was occurring,
a professor from the Technical University, Stanislaw Lorenz, obtained
a special pass allowing him and a handful of other faculty members
to reenter the deserted and devastated city. Hidden in the architectural
school was the amassed documentation of the historic structures
of Warsaw. It required several trips in an old truck to bring the
material out. This too was hidden in the Piotrków monastery,
in the ancient stone coffins of dead monks.
Of 957 buildings which
the Poles had classified before the war as individual monuments
or structures contributing to the special ambience of historic districts,
782 were totally destroyed and 141 partly demolished. The Nazis
had reduced to rubble 96.5 percent of the city's historical and
Germany was not the only
nation that intentionally targeted culture as a tactic. British
bombing was commonly referred to by the German populace as "Baedeker
bombing," in reference to the famous cultural guidebooks, and
the infamous firebombing of Dresden was a deliberate act of cultural
desecration in response to the German bombing of Coventry. In contrast,
for much of the war in Europe, low-altitude daylight bombing missions
by the United States were ten to twenty times more precise than
their British counterparts and often were surgically exact with
the aim of avoiding damage to cultural resources. In Japan, however,
the Americans had no such scruples. Mock wooden cities were constructed
in the United States to perfect the impact of incendiary bombs,
and the medieval building culture of historic urban Japan was largely
In terms of the number
of explosives directed at a single city, Berlin was subject to more
bombardment than any other metropolis. In all, about 100 million
pounds of explosive devices were dropped on the German capital in
more than three hundred Allied bombing missions in which vast armadas
of planesas many as a thousand bombers in twelve hourspassed
over the target area and emptied their payloads. Additionally, some
80 million pounds of hand grenades and artillery shells were fired
by Soviet ground forces during the final battle for the metropolis.
In comparision, the Germans
used a relatively small volume of high explosives on Warsaw: about
12,000 pounds were dropped in the initial aerial bombardment. Yet
the calculated, building-by-building destruction rendered by the
German occupational force was extraordinarily more potent in its
effect. In Berlin, which was about four times bigger than Warsaw,
at the war's end, 70 percent of the city's buildings were lightly
damaged, 9 percent were salvageable, 8 percent heavily damaged,
and 11 percent totally destroyed. In Warsaw, however, 80 percent
of the buildings were entirely eradicated. Large parts of the German
capital, many of them quite beautiful, remained intact; in Warsaw
virtually all of the beautiful aspects of the city were erased from
the earth. When General Dwight Eisenhower visited Warsaw, he was
appalled: "I have seen many towns destroyed during the war,
but nowhere have I been faced with such extent of destruction executed
with such bestiality."
For many Varsovians,
there was one more hammer blow to come. With victory in hand, the
Allies yielded Poland to the Soviet sphere of influence.
Each of the two governments-in-exile
had adherents among the Polish population. Generally, communism
found more support in agrarian areas, while opposition tended to
be strongest in cities. As documented in oral interviews with surviving
administrators, planners, and architects engaged in rebuilding Warsaw
(collected in 1994 by Anna Naruszewicz for her doctoral thesis at
the Warsaw Technical University), more than 90 percent of those
who worked on the reconstruction were initially opposed to communism
and experienced widely shared profound grief at the end of the war.
Forsaken by the Allies, much of the population of Warsaw found that
one form of foreign occupation had been bartered for anotherand
to the very government that had recently killed over a million Poles
and then stood by, withholding its aid, as the city was obliterated.
Wounded and betrayed,
the Varsovians returned to a traumatized landscape. Few people in
history had been so grievously pounded by an unkind fate, yet they
were not broken. From out of the ruins, they would build one of
world's most remarkable urban architectural legacies . . .