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Warsaw off the Beaten Track

Umschlagplatz

The Umschlagplatz (from German: collection point) was a holding area set up by Nazi Germans connecred with a railway station in occupied Poland, where the Jews from Warsaw Ghetto were being assembled for deportation to death camps during the ghetto liquidation.

Between 5000-7000 people were sent away from this place to the death camps daily. It was used for several months during daily deportations of 254,000 – 265,000 Warsaw Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp.

The Warsaw Umschlagplatz was created by fencing off a western part of the Warszawa Gdańska train station that was closest to the ghetto. The area was surrounded by a wooden fence, later replaced by a concrete wall.

A monument was erected in 1988, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, where the Umschlagplatz was located, to commemorate the deportation victims.

The 400 most popular Jewish-Polish first names, in alphabetical order from Aba to Żanna, are engraved on the monument. Each one commemorates 1,000 victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. On the wall there is a description: ‘Over 300,000 Jews passed down this road of suffering and death from the Warsaw ghetto between 1942 to 1943’.

The selection and sequence of colors of the monument (white with the black stripe on the front wall) refer to the Jewish ritual clothing.

Address: Stawki 4/6 street

Pawiak Museum

Museum of Pawiak Prison is a museum in Warsaw, Poland, established in 1965. It shows the history of Pawiak Prison which was notably used during the German occupation between 1939 and 1944.

Pawiak was a prison built in 1835 in Warsaw, Poland. During the January 1863 Uprising, it served as a transfer camp for Poles sentenced by Imperial Russia to deportation to Siberia.

During the World War II German occupation of Poland, it became part of the Nazi concentration-death camp apparatus in Warsaw.

During the Nazi occupation it became the largest political prison in Poland and saw over 100,000 inmates pass through its gates. Of this number over 37,000 were executed within the grounds, while a further 60,000 were transported to extermination camps. Subterranean cells designed to house three people were often crammed with up to 18 prisoners.

Pawiak Prison Museum was founded in 1965 on the initiative and with the participation of former Pawiak political prisoners.

The museum building was built in the foundations of the surviving underground casemates of the prison which was blown up by the Germans in August 1944.

Monuments important to Pawiak also include: an original pillar that represents a part of the original entrance gate, the Monument Tree of Pawiak (which is bronze copy of the famous elm, witness to its history – on which the victims’ families since 1945 have placed the epitaph plates), concrete wall of sandstone blocks surrounding the grounds of the Museum.

Opening hours:

Monday, Tuesday – closed

Wedesday – Sunday – 10:00 – 17:00

Tickets:

Thursday – free entry

Adults – 5zł

Children – 10zł

It is one ticket for 3 museums ( valid for 7 days and you can enter with the same ticket into all three museums: Pawiak Museum, Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom & Museum of The Tenth Pavilion of The Warsaw Citadel)

Address: Dzielna 24/26

Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom

The museum presents the conditions in which Polish patriots and resistance fighters were jailed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

The museum is located on Szucha Avenue, in the building of the non exisiting Ministry of Religious Beliefs and Public Education (now the Ministry of National Education). After the outbreak of World War II, the Nazis took over the building and turned it into the headquarters of the German police forces.

The whole street was closed to Poles during Nazi times. In the basement of the building, the Nazis set up rough jails. Prisoners who were located there were usually freshly caught or transferred from Pawiak prison. Prisoners were subject to brutal interrogations, during which they were tortured and severely beaten. Torture was no exception for any prisoner, and even pregnant women were beaten and tortured.

Polish prisoners often scratched out some sentences about beatings into the prison walls. Many of these inscriptions were also personal, patriotic or religious. In the 1960s research was conducted, and over 1,000 texts were conserved and you can see them until today on the prison’s walls.

Opening hours:

Monday, Tuesday – closed

Wedesday – Sunday – 10:00 – 17:00

Tickets:

Thursday – free entry

Adults – 5zł

Children – 10zł

It is one ticket for 3 museums ( valid for 7 days and you can enter with the same ticket into all three museums: Pawiak Museum, Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom & Museum of The Tenth Pavilion of The Warsaw Citadel)

Address: Jana Chrystiana Szucha 25

The Tenth Pavilion of The Warsaw Citadel

Warsaw Citadel is a 19th-century fortress in Warsaw. It served as a prison in the late 1930s, especially the Tenth Pavilion of the Warsaw Citadel. It was meant to increase the control of the Russian authorities over the rebellious Warsaw residents.

The fortress is a pentagon-shaped brick structure with high outer walls, enclosing an area of 36 hectares.

Inside the fortress 104 prison pavillions were built, providing cells for 2,940, mostly political, prisoners.  The central investigative prison for political prisoners was located in one of the buildings, the so called 10th Pavilion, built between 1826 and 1828. According to estimates, around 40,000 prisoners, fighters for national liberation and social change, passed through the Citadel, which housed the military court. Hundreds of prisoners were executed on the walls of the Citadel, thousands more were deported to Siberia.

After Poland regained her independence in 1918, the Citadel was taken over by the Polish Army. It was used as a garrison, training center, and warehouse. During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Citadel’s German garrison prevented linking between the city center and the northern Żoliborz district. The fortress survived the war and in 1945 became again Polish Army property.

Opening hours:

Monday, Tuesday – closed

Wedesday – Sunday – 10:00 – 16:00

Tickets:

Sunday – free entry

Adults – 5zł

Children – 10zł

It is one ticket for 3 museums ( valid for 7 days and you can enter with the same ticket into all three museums: Pawiak Museum, Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom & Museum of The Tenth Pavilion of The Warsaw Citadel)

Address: Skazańców 25

Jewish Cemetery

The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe and in the world.

The Jewish necropolis was established in 1806 and occupies 33 hectares (83 acres) of land.

The cemetery contains over 200,000 marked graves, as well as mass graves of victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Many of these graves and crypts are overgrown, having been abandoned after the German invasion of Poland and Holocaust. Although the cemetery was closed down during World War II, after the war it was reopened and a small part of it remains active, serving Warsaw’s small existing Jewish population.

In the 1990s the neglected cemetery started to be renovated for the first time since the 1930s, mostly by the re-created Warsaw Jewish Commune and the City of Warsaw municipal government. The cemetery is still open, with 20 to 30 new burials every year.

During the war the cemetery had been partly demolished. German forces used it for mass executions and burial of victims of Warsaw Ghetto, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and other mass murders. Those burials included both Jews and non-Jews. Following the fall of the Ghetto Uprising, in 1943 the Germans blew up all buildings in the area of the cemetery, including the synagogue and burial houses. Only a small well survived to this day.

Further damage was done to the cemetery during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, when the front line passed directly through the cemetery. After the war the cemetery was reopened. The Communist authorities of Poland planned a road directly through the middle of the cemetery, but the plans were never carried out.

Address: Okopowa 49/51

Miła 18

This place was the headquarters “bunker” (actually a hidden shelter) of the Jewish Combat Organization, a Jewish resistance group in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland during World War II.





On 8 May 1943, three weeks after the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when the “bunker” was found out by the Nazis, there were around 300 people inside. The leader of the uprising, Mordechaj Anielewicz, stood firm. The Nazis threw tear gas into the shelter to force the occupants out. Anielewicz, his girlfriend Mira Fuchrer and many of his staff committed mass suicide by ingesting poison rather than surrender.

The bodies of Jewish fighters were not exhumed after 1945 and the place gained a status of war memorial. In 1946, the monument known as “Anielewicz Mound”, made of the ruins of Miła street houses, was erected. A commemorative stone with the inscription in Polish and Yiddish was placed on top of the mound.

Address: Miła 18

Chlodna street – A Footbridge Of Memory

In December 1941, the area between Żelazna, Leszno and Grzybowska Streets was excluded from the ghetto, creating the so-called Small and Large Ghetto. To allow the traffic between the two parts of the Ghetto, in January 1942 a wooden footbridge was opened over Chłodna Street. The footbridge was used until the Small Ghetto was liquidated in July 1942.

It was the third floor high to allow the “Aryan” trams, German military transports and cars to pass under it.

This wooden bridge is in the memories of many people as the image of the ghetto itself, despite the fact that it functioned only for half a year from January to August 1942. It is also present in many photographs, it was one of the most photographed places in occupied Warsaw.

The footbridge over Chłodna (reconstructed version of it) appears also in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist”.

In 2011, in the place where the bridge over Chłodna stood, an artistic installation called “A Footbridge of Memory” was opened – an installation made of two pairs of tall steel pillars, connected at the top with optical fibres. At the bottom there are Kaiser-panoramas with war-time images of this area.

Address: Chłodna 22

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to Warsaw off the Beaten Track. If we missed out your favorite spots then make sure you leave a comment below to help out other Warsaw explores.

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2 comments

Sławek Bryska June 16, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Brilliant, thanks so much!

Warsaw Local June 16, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Really glad you enjoyed it! Much more coming soon.

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