Iconic Warsaw building earns prestigious ‘historical monument’ status – The First News

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Awarded only to places considered to be of “supra-regional importance, and of high historical and artistic value”, the distinction was awarded for: “preserving a building which is an exceptional example of public architecture of the interwar period and a symbol of the martyrdom of the Polish nation”.
gov.pl

First built to serve as the headquarters of the Ministry of Religious Confessions and Public Education, one of Warsaw’s most emblematic institutional buildings has been recognized as a historical monument after the approval of an application issued by the Ministry of culture and national heritage.

As it approaches its centenary, preliminary sketches of the building by Al. Szucha 25 was first designed in 1925 by Zdzisław Mączeński, a prominent architect whose credits previously included a series of churches – during his career Mączeński designed around 70, including the remarkable Basilica of Our Lady of Pains of Limanowa.

From the outset, the building of Al. Szucha 25 delighted due to its large dimensions and high quality finishes – later it would be hailed as the first example of “stripped down classicism” in Poland.Public domain

Yet it was his project on Szucha that would ultimately define him and, indeed, the institutional architecture of the Second Polish Republic.

Inaugurated in 1927, it was completed in 1930 and consecrated by Cardinal Aleksander Kakowski during the ceremony in the presence of Minister of Religious Confessions and Public Awakening, Sławomir Czerwiński, and Prime Minister Walery Sławek.

Notably similar to the architecture then in vogue in Fascist Italy, the building was characterized by its huge double-pillared portico, an almost dehumanizing effort topped by a carved Polish eagle.CC BY-SA 3.0

Nine years later, Sławek would rise to prominence after killing himself just steps from Szucha 19 in response to his growing marginalization from politics.

From the start, the building captivated with its grandiose dimensions and high-quality finishes – later it would be hailed as the first example of “stripped-down classicism” in Poland.

Preliminary sketches for the building at Al. Szucha 25 was first designed in 1925 by Zdzisław Mączeński, a prominent architect whose credits previously included a series of churches.the reproduction

Also known as Grecian Moderne and Starved Classicism, it was a style that sought to use 20e the classicism of the century as a source of inspiration, to eliminate the decorative frills associated with the latter.

Notably similar to the architecture then in vogue in Fascist Italy, the building was characterized by its huge double-pillared portico, an almost dehumanizing effort topped by a carved Polish eagle.

Some of Poland’s boldest and brightest talents were recruited to create the building’s Art Deco interior. gov.pl

However, it wasn’t just the exterior that drew applause. The work of Wojciech Jastrzębowski, a professor at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts and also director of the ministry’s arts department, it was at his request that some of Poland’s boldest and brightest talents were recruited to realize his vision of an art deco. space.

Adorned with intricate paneling and fabrics, his design for the building saw it filled with elegant furniture and lighting arrangements designed to look like bouquets of flowers.

Adorned with intricate paneling and fabrics, the building was filled with elegant furniture and lighting arrangements designed to look like bouquets of flowers.gov.pl

There, the story should have and would have ended had it not been for the outbreak of World War II. With the fall of Warsaw on October 1, 1939, the 4e The Gestapo Task Force entered the building at 6:30 a.m. and set about converting the building into their office for the Warsaw District.

Filing cabinets and desks were emptied and thrown into the inner hallway and the library collection was looted. But although the rest of the interior was left largely untouched, much worse was to come.

On October 1, 1939, the Gestapo’s 4th Task Group entered the building at 6:30 a.m. and set about converting the building into their office for the Warsaw District.Public domain

Forming a central part of what was to become “the police quarter”, Al. Szucha was renamed Strasse der Polizei in 1941 – an appropriate title given the presence of a police station and living quarters of the police. To meet the needs of the new German population in the area, further down the road, a medical clinic was opened, along with a casino and a brothel.

But if the street was fenced with barbed wire only in 1943, it had already acquired a fearsome reputation that scared the Poles.

With a permanent staff of around 300, the facility was able to hold around 100 interrogations a day; Twice a day, prisoners were transferred there from, for the most part, Pawiak prison.Public domain

From 1940, the windows of No. 25 were barred – and in some cases walled up – and the basement reconfigured to accommodate 10 “isolation” cells and four for collective detention. These would be known as “trams” because of their forward-facing bench seats.

With a permanent staff of around 300, the facility was able to hold around 100 interrogations a day; Twice a day, prisoners were transferred there from, for the most part, Pawiak prison. Sometimes they were transported directly from a street roundup.

After waiting their turn in silence, prisoners were then taken out for “research,” a sick euphemism for torture. Conducted both in the basement and on the upper floors, it resulted in whippings, burns, suffocation, hanging, beatings and electrocution.

Irena Sendler, a nurse celebrated by Yad Vashem for saving 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto, survived her stay in Szucha thanks to a generous bribe paid by the Żegota aid organization.Public domain

According to the testimonies of survivors, those who failed to crack under these methods would then see the stakes increase with the Gestapo training their next of kin.

Thousands of people passed through here, including scout leader and legendary resistance figure Janek ‘Rudy’ Bytnar (alias Rudy), Home Army nurse and courier Wanda Ossowska (who was tortured here 57 times) and Jan Piekałkiewicz who was held in solitary confinement for two and a half months before dying of his injuries.

Also interviewed here were Antoni Kocjan, an outstanding pilot and agent who played a crucial role in determining the operation of the V1 and V2 rockets – he would die in Pawiak after his beatings in Szucha – and Irena Sendler, a celebrated nurse by Yad Vashem to rescue 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Understanding the extent of its dark role in Polish history, in times of peace the authorities acted quickly to preserve the subsoil and on July 25, 1946, a resolution was passed to ensure that it remained intact as a place of martyrdom.PORRIDGE

Unlike many, she survived her time in Szucha thanks to a generous bribe paid by the Żegota aid organization.

In September 1944, the Nazis finally left Szucha 25 and moved their operations to Sochaczew, but not before dozens of prisoners were shot in the yard.

Understanding the extent of its dark role in Polish history, in times of peace the authorities acted quickly to preserve the subsoil and the July 25e1946, a resolution was passed to ensure it was kept intact as a place of martyrdom.

PORRIDGE

PORRIDGE

Still showing inscriptions carved into the walls by prisoners awaiting torture, an accurate reconstruction of the duty officer’s bedroom, cells and instruments of torture recovered after the Gestapo fled, it now represents the one of Warsaw’s darkest sights.PORRIDGE

If the first visitors went there in 1947, it was in 1952 that the Mausoleum of the Struggle and Martyrdom 1939-1944 was officially inaugurated.

Still showing inscriptions carved into the walls by prisoners awaiting torture, an accurate reconstruction of the duty officer’s bedroom, cells and instruments of torture recovered after the Gestapo fled, it now represents the one of Warsaw’s darkest sights.

Yet despite this dark history, the building also continued its governmental functions after the war, acting as the headquarters of the Ministry of Education.

Something of a rare honour, Szucha 25 has become only the 117th place in Poland to enjoy such status, and only the fourth in the capital.Kalbar/TFN

Listed in the register of monuments in 1972, it is now better safeguarded after a presidential decree was granted and signed by President Andrzej Duda.

Awarded only to places considered to be of “supra-regional importance, and of high historical and artistic value”, the distinction was awarded, according to a government press release, for: “preserving a building which is an exceptional example of between the wars and a symbol of the martyrdom of the Polish nation”.

Something of a rare honor, Szucha 25 became only the 117e place in Poland offered such status, and only the fourth in the capital after William Lindley’s Water Treatment Plant, Powązki Cemetery and the so-called Royal Road from the Old Town to Wilanów Palace).

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