Ochota is one of the many districts in Warsaw that has a lot of history and stories to share. In this video/article we are going to discover the about the very first airport in Warsaw, the largest dog parade and how the Ochota District of Warsaw was affected during war times.
The Ochota District of Warsaw is under 10 kilometers big and according to Wikipedia had a population in 2003 of 93,000, but we expect this to have greatly increased as a lot of development has happened in the area. Even with such development Ochota has not lost its history and charm.
The district name ‘Ochota’ came from the name of an inn where travelers could seek lodging and food. The inn was built in 1831 and the district was given its name around that time, but first written mention of the area where today’s Ochota lays today was 1238. It was once a part of the royal village, but this changed over time due to the demand for transport routes.
Below we are going to cover in more detail what appears in the video above. In the title you can find a time stamp if you wish to see how it looks.
The First Airport in Warsaw (0:23 – 1:03)
Pole Mokotowskie is a famous park in Warsaw and a favorite for dog lovers. Pole Mokotowskie was not originally created to be a public park, but was actually the first airport of Warsaw (in Polish it was called ‘Lotnisko Mokotowskie’). The airport was built and opened in 1910, but you won’t find it there today as it closed in 1944.
Lotnisko Mokotowskie was initially built by Polish people for Polish use. In World War One the airport was taken over by German soldiers who made major changes to the use of the space by building 21 hangars for German war planes and the surrounding areas where created in to farm land used by the Germans. It was not until 1919 that the people of Warsaw could retake the airport back. In was then that the location became the heart of Polish aviation and aerospace research and development.
Starting in 1920 Lotnisko Mokotowskie began its use as an airport for regular passenger flights. In 1929 the famous Polish flight company LOT was founded and is still active and open to the public today. From 1930 onwards there were initially international flights to Bucharest , then to Athens , Beirut and Helsinki.
In 1935 the Lotnisko Mokotowskie was relocation from what is Pole Mokotowskie today future out of the city to the Okęcie district. Lotnisko Mokotowskie was officially closed in 1947 an today the relocated Airport (Chopin Aiport) is still in use.
The Happy Dog – Pomnik Szczęśliwego Psa (1:04 – 1:59)
In the Pole Mokotowskie park you’ll notice a monument of what looks like a happy dog which is based on a Golden Retriever. The monument is not just there because the park is a favorite with dogs, but because of the hard work what loving dog had done for sick children in Warsaw. The name of the dog is Lokat and he was a long serving kinotherapy dog that worked for an organization called Friday Foundation (Fundacji Przyjaciel). Kinotherapy is a method of enhancing the effectiveness of rehabilitation, in which a properly selected and trained dog is trained by a qualified therapist.
On October 2, 2004, it was World Animal Day and on this day there was a large dog event held Pole Mokotowskie park. It was on this day that monument unveiling happened with Lokat present and many other dogs. Today you can still find the monument and it still seems to be loved by many of the locals.
The November Uprising Fort – Reduta Ordona (2:04 – 3:56)
Reduta nr 54 located in the Ochota District (Na Bateryjce 4-6, 02-335, Warszawa) is today an outdoor Museum and also a grave yard of many Polish and Russian soldiers.
Ochota Massacre (4:44 – 5:31)
In the we find one last standing piece of wall that was once a part of the administration office for the Zieleniak camp. On this wall many people were lined up and shot dead.
The Ochota Massacre was a wave of German-orchestrated mass murder, looting, arson, torture and rape, which swept through the Warsaw district of Ochota from 4–25 August 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising. The principal perpetrators of these war crimes were the Nazi collaborationist S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A., the so-called “Russian National Liberation Army” (Russian: Русская Освободительная Народная Армия, RONA), commanded by Bronislav Kaminski.
The worst atrocities were committed in the local hospitals, in the Curie Institute, the Kolonia Staszica housing estate, and the Zieleniak concentration camp. In all, about 10,000 residents of Ochota were killed and had their property stolen, after which the district was systematically burnt down by German forces, as were the bodies of many of the victims.
On 5 August, due to the ever-growing number of people being expelled from their homes, the Germans decided to create a transitional camp in Ochota where people could be gathered prior to being transported to the transit camp (Durchgangslager) in Pruszków, outside Warsaw. The transitional camp was located in the area of a former vegetable market called Zieleniak (today the area of Hale Banacha). Between 10-20,000 inhabitants of the Ochota district and its neighbouring areas were rounded up by the evening of 5 August.
RONA troops took over the former administration building of the marketplace, and used caretaker boxes as guard posts. The marketplace was enclosed by a brick wall which prevented the prisoners from being able to escape. Crimes against the local population continued during the round ups carried out by RONA troops, who often beat and shot their prisoners while herding them towards the camp, pulling women out of the crowd to rape them, frequently killing them afterwards. At the gate of the camp, the victims were searched for valuables, jewels and money, and then forced into the cobbled area of the marketplace. Once inside the camp, the prisoners were given no sanitary facilities and no medicine or medical aid was available. A small amount of mouldy bread was sometimes given out, but there was no drinking water. In addition, RONA soldiers sometimes shot at the imprisoned people for fun. Erich von dem Bach, commander of all German armed forces in Warsaw during the uprising, inspected the camp on the day of its inception and concluded that “there was nothing wrong there, everything was in order.”
By 7 August 1944, the camp was overflowing with civilians. Those who had been killed were laid in piles along the camp wall or buried in a makeshift manner. On the same day, several hundred people of non-Polish descent were escorted away to a similar camp in Okęcie. On 9 August, the first batch of prisoners was marched out of the Zieleniak camp and transported to the Pruszków transit camp.
As German forces gradually pushed the insurrectionists out of Ochota in subsequent days, the camp was once again filled with people from other parts of the district, such as the Kolonia Lubeckiego (Lubecki Housing Estate) and blocks of the Social Insurance Office (ZUS) in Filtrowa Street. The capture of resistance positions along Wawelska Street (the so-called “Reduta Wawelska” – Wawelska Stronghold) on 11 August, was followed by the next wave of people expelled from their homes. As the number of murdered and deceased prisoners increased, their corpses were burned in the gymnasium of the neighbouring Hugo Kołłątaj Secondary School. They were transported to the gymnasium by conscripted civilians who were ordered to lay them in piles, after which RONA soldiers doused the bodies with alcohol and set them on fire. On 12 August, a German officer killed three captured boy scouts of the Gustaw Battalion of the Home Army, shooting them in the backs of their heads as they lowered corpses into an excavated pit. On 13 August, the final evacuation of civilians to the Pruszków transit camp began. Meanwhile, selected men were conscripted into the Verbrennungskommando and continued burning the bodies of the victims of the massacre.
The Zieleniak camp operated until 19 August. During its two weeks of existence, some 1,000 of its prisoners died of hunger, thirst, and extreme exhaustion, or were shot to death by RONA soldiers.
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