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World War 2 memorials in Warsaw

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  • Lucyna Artymiuk
    http://petitelefant.com/world-war-2-memorials-in-warsaw-poland/ World War 2 memorials in Warsaw Poland by Allison on
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2012
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      World War 2 memorials in Warsaw Poland

      by Allison on March 30, 2012 in Travel, travel_sights · 9 comments

      I’ve been having a hard time corralling my thoughts about all the World War 2 memorials in Warsaw Poland from our family trip last summer, but it’s time to share.

      Description: world war II memorials warsaw poland

      Honestly, a huge part of my desire to visit Warsaw while Viktor’s parents were still alive was so my children would learn about their heritage straight from Babcia and Dziadek {grandma and grandpa} in their home country.  The things Viktor’s family has experienced over the last several generations are almost unfathomable, and I needed my children to see it with their own eyes so they would appreciate what kind of life they live due to the sacrifices of their ancestors.

      Description: World War II memorials warsaw

      We walked everywhere in Warsaw, and every time we left the apartment we came across a memorial like this one.  A plaque in the middle of the sidewalk briefly detailing the approximate number of people murdered by German soldiers in that spot in one day during World War 2.  The first time we saw one of these memorials my sweet Precocious almost threw up.  She’s old enough to understand exactly what it all means and that it happened to so many of her daddy’s family and friends.  At each plaque she would listen quietly while Viktor translated and then keep walking until the memorial was out of sight.

      It was so much for her to process.

      Charming had so many questions, so. many. questions.  I could see his little 6-year-old head spinning trying to add it all up.  The only time he sees soldiers is at a 4th of July parade or a daddy in uniform picking his kid up from school.  War isn’t really in his consciousness and everything we saw in Europe blew his mind.  He tried to make sense of it by asking question after question after question, then repeating our answers over and over again, as if by repetition he could make sense of the Holocaust.

      Description: world war 2 warsaw ghetto

      In addition to all the memorials in Warsaw, there are strips of cement about a foot wide in the middle of sidewalks all over the city; remnants of the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto.  In the sidewalk next to the cemetery, next to the market, right outside the apartment, downtown in old Warsaw.

      Description: world war 2 memorials

      We bought our daily groceries from a market that’s been there since well before World War 2 and is somehow, miraculously, still standing.  On our last day in Warsaw my husband took me around to the side of the market to show me the foundation of the building.  The walls were riddled with bullets.  Next to the holes, on the front corner of the market, sits another plaque representing the citizens who died in that spot.

      The numbers were well into the double digits.

      Description: world war II memorials in warsaw

      Viktor and I spent a quiet rainy afternoon walking around a park that was originally the estate of the Saxon Palace.  The tiny remainder of the palace now houses the tomb of the unknown soldier, always guarded by armed Polish soldiers.

      Description: World War II memorial

      We took the children to the Warsaw Rising Museum where we felt a little of what it was like on the streets of Warsaw during the war.  The entire building thrummed with the sound of a heartbeat, periodically interrupted with the sound of gunfire and shouting.  Behind glass in exhibits embedded in the ‘wall’ of the Warsaw Ghetto sat personal mementos.  Ration cards and scraps of clothing sat next to messages scrawled on scraps of paper, couriered underground between citizens trying to find family members and ways to escape.  The exhibits were so accurate and beautifully constructed we were left heartbroken with understanding.

      Description: world war II memorial statues

      The last, and most powerful memorial for me was found in Prague, Czech Republic.  Off the side of a hilly path on our way to Prague Castle were cement steps on which stood copper statues of a man in various states of becoming invisible.  I stood in front of the memorial looking straight up the middle, watching as he disappeared.  The plaque read:

      The memorial to the victims of communism is dedicated to all victims.  Not only those who were jailed or executed but also those whose lives were ruined by totalitarian despotism.’

      The other day I asked Precocious if she understood why as parents we feel it so important to teach her and her brother about the painful history of the  family who came before them.  About the family Viktor never knew and her grandparents who literally sacrificed everything coming to America.  She didn’t miss a beat before she said,

      So we remember.  We need to remember so it never happens again.”






      Lucyna Artymiuk

      Melbourne Australia


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