I have to admit, Warsaw feels like a bit of a blur to me now. It was the last official city on our tour and I think my brain was reaching it’s capacity for absorbing historical information by that point.
Our day started out with a great tour by a local guide who pointed out some sights around the city and giving us some background information. Warsaw is the largest city in Poland, and one of the largest in Europe. During WWII, Germany blew up 80% of the city and the population was forced to leave.
Soon after, the Soviets came in and took over the city and aided in the rebuilding of the city… but under communist rule. They rebuilt the city so fast – and so well – that UNESCO added it to the World Heritage List.
If you look at it from one side, it looks like a willow tree, but from the other side, it looks like fingers playing a piano.
The Germans blew it up in 1940, but the original mold survived the war and was used to recast it in 1958.
One of the most significant events in Warsaw happened in 1944 when the Poles tried to revolt against the Nazi German army. It was called the Warsaw Uprising. They had hoped the approaching Soviet army would help back them up, but their army just stayed on the river banks and watched as they were badly defeated. As a result 200,000 Polish citizens died. After the Germans regained control, that’s when the orders came down to level the city to the ground.
This is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising monument. The people in the Warsaw ghetto knew what the Nazis had planned for them and in 1943, they rebelled marking the largest single revolt by Jews during the Holocaust.
As we walked, we passed an art installation that was shaped to look like a palm tree. I mean, we have cell towers shaped like palm trees all over Los Angeles and they blend in somewhat… but a palm tree in Warsaw? It was designed to blend a bit of Israel into Poland.
Then we realized if we wanted to catch the bus back (which we did!) we had to hustle back to the main square. With time ticking away, and us being totally lost in the woods, we barely made it in time. I felt like I was in amazing race sprinting through the streets to find
Phil our tour guide.
Back on the bus, we saw a few more sights on the drive. This was a building built by the Russians and designed to look like a birthday cake for Stalin. Of course the Soviets invaded and took over their country, so it was a cruel reminder to the Poles of who was ruling them.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll be on the bus for 10 hours as we head back to Berlin.