Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Palace for the People

The first time we came to the city and drove past it was sometime in the early 90's. We stuck our faces against the window and screamed. It was the tallest building we had ever seen, and it made us think of cities we actually wanted to go to. Like New York.

Our parents, who should have been happy their children expressed enthusiasm about anything in this drab country, did not empathise. They hated the Palace. Its monstrous size, its brutal shape monopolising the ground and the sky. They could not forget that it had all been Stalin's idea: to mark a country that suddenly somehow belonged to him.

1955 - Fot. Władysław Sławny

When the Wall fell and the country was returned to itself, plans to knock down the monster appeared and fizzled out. Capitalism arrived and thrived, and spouted private towers much larger and shinier. These did not pretend to be for the people. Like New York.

But in the meantime Varsovians learnt to tame their behemoth: They installed museums, theatres, cinemas, bars. And little by little, the Palace stopped being a victim, to turn into something which speaks out - if only silently - for those who are are as vulnerable as this country was not so long ago. Long may the courage last. 

In support of the Ukraine

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