Warsaw — the city that rose like a phoenix from the ashes


History in the future

Sometimes I wonder how in the future, say in 50 years, the so-called "history" will look like. Will historians be digging around in the archives, or looking for witnesses to some past events? I think each of us, with a few clicks and a few seconds, will be able to go back in time. The Internet is a mine of information, with already intangible boundaries, and yet constantly expanding volume. And this is the exponential growth. Everything important what happens in our time is instantly stored in numerous freely available sites, with many details and facts included. Plus comments by witnesses and participants. History archived in color, adorned with high resolution photos, made more realistic with films, and underpinned by hundreds of words written by the masses.

But until now – that was a completely different story… The twentieth century, especially the tumultuous history of its first half, wasn't as precisely archived. Therefore the possibility to look into that "other" world is very intriguing. I like to watch movies from distant times, not because I am a particular fan of history as such - thinking about dates, causes and consequences. Rather I wonder how it looked like and how much their life was different from mine. How much was bread and where they've spent their vacation? How did newspapers look and what products had been advertised?

Old postcards - Warsaw in 1880

Warsaw in 1940 - unique colorful film

Today I came across a short but particularly interesting historical film. For two reasons. First: it shows Warsaw, the city I know very well, and secondly it is ... colorful (however, I do assume that it was colored by a computer). Color makes it much easier to feel the atmosphere of the times. Have a look:

The film was shot between 19 and 24 October 1940. Struck by the level of destruction - quite sad views. Warsaw - the city where over 1 million people lived before war, maybe your grandparents? So quickly destroyed by Germany, this days - our friendly neighbors. Many questions come to my mind about how to live in such a place? War is a bestiality. Soon after it turned out that living in Warsaw was impossible.

What you see on this film is only a prelude to the real damage. Hard to believe? Why should anyone destroy the city already destroyed? Well, it was a war and a war waged by Germans. They had no mercy that time. The planned destruction of Warsaw was put into full motion after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. By January 1945, about 85% of the buildings had been destroyed, and Warsaw was left with 1000 survivors.

The City of Ruins

"The City of Ruins" is an animated reconstruction produced by the Warsaw Rising Museum, which shows a bird's eye view of Warsaw after the German destruction. Unfortunately, the film can be watched only in the museum and is not available on the Internet. This is an unofficial trailer made only of few scenes available:

Dear Poles from Krakow, who claims that Warszawa is ugly ;) Don't forget that the capital of your country is a phoenix, a city that rose like a phoenix from the ashes.

Warsaw Uprising Museum

Warsaw today