Will we find the Bund Archive hidden in 1943?

After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising the area of the battle was leveled to the ground….  In 1945 the former Ghetto was literally the ocean of rubbles estimated for 3 million cubic meters capacity. The new residential district was built on top of them after the war…. the basements of demolished houses as well as the sewers and underground shelters usually were not searched… How many mysteries and secrets are hidden underground?

Marek Edelman, the commander of military Jewish underground – Jewish Fighting Organisation (Polish: Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa – ZOB) and BUND member, who died in 2009 – personally dug the the party’s documents in the cellar of the building at 40 Swietojerska Street, shortly before the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The building was standing next to the “Brush Workshop” area where he fought as the commander of ZOB units from April 19, 1943 (Warsaw Ghetto Uprising).

Due to almost total destruction, this area was aligned and changed after the war – the fighting area is now the property of the Chinese Embassy with beautiful Chinese Garden, former 40 Swietojerska Street house would now be located in expanded Krasinski Gardens…. one of the historic public parks in Warsaw…  The building foundations and basement walls still remain deep in the soil.

As the park has been recently revitalizing an idea to search for the Bund Archives was born. The documents have not been found so far but the cellars of the former building at 40 Swietojerska Street were excavated and revealed other secrets…. human remains found in the basements, a dried loaf of bread and a pot with grain were fairly uncommon discoveries. Two dozen objects recovered from the tenement site, still dusty with soil or rusted before conservation were displayed for the press conference in January 2014: a vacuum tube radio for receiving illegal wartime broadcasts, a child’s cup with colorful figures, a massive iron fitting that may have twisted in the building’s collapse and many others.

The works are to be continued….

What was found underground:

source of all photographs > TheMuseum of Warsaw > http://muzeumwarszawy.pl/poszukiwania-archiwum-bundu/




68. anniversarry of AK dissolution – Jan. 19, 1945

The Armia Krajowa or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. Till 1944, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces. It was loyal to the Polish government in exile and constituted the armed wing of what became known as the “Polish Underground State.”

przysięga AK

Estimates of its membership in 1944 range from 200,000 to 600,000, with the most common number being 400,000; that figure would make it not only the largest Polish underground resistance movement but one of the three largest in Europe during World War II.

Warsaw mural with words "Because this is my city..."

Warsaw mural with words “Because this is my city…”

It was officially disbanded on 19 January 1945 to prevent a slide into armed conflict with the Red Army including an increasing threat of civil war over Poland’s sovereignty.

The fallen AK soldier at his barricade - Warsaw Insurgents' cemetery

The fallen AK soldier at his barricade – Warsaw Insurgents’ cemetery

However, many units decided to continue on their struggle under new circumstances, seeing the Soviet forces as new occupiers. The persecution of the AK members was only a part of the reign of Stalinist terror in postwar Poland. In the period of 1944–56, approximately 300,000 Polish people had been arrested, or up to two million, by different accounts. There were 6,000 death sentences issued, the majority of them carried out. Possibly, over 20,000 people died in communist prisons including those executed “in the majesty of the law” such as Witold Pilecki, a hero of Auschwitz. A further six million Polish citizens (i.e., one out of every three adult Poles) were classified as suspected members of a ‘reactionary or criminal element’ and subjected to investigation by state agencies.

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17 September 1939

Sep. 17, 1939 - Warsaw Castle clock tower at fire

Sep. 17, 1939 – Warsaw Castle clock tower at fire

73 years ago at the beginning of WW2 and during the second week of the defending battle of Warsaw – on Sep. 17, 1939 – the Royal Castle of Warsaw was for the first time hit by a German missile….  the clock on top of the Sigismundus Tower stopped at 11.15 a.m.  The Royal Castle was not a military object, it was however the important symbol of the Polish State – once the official residence of the Polish Kings and the longest permanent seat of the Polish Parliament Houses, just before the WW2 – the official Residence of the President of the Republic of Poland.

As such it became a military target. On September 17, 1939, the Castle was shelled by German artillery. The roof and the turrets were destroyed by fire (they were partly restored by the Castle’s staff, but later deliberately removed by the Germans). The ceiling of the Ballroom collapsed, resulting in the destruction of Marcello Bacciarelli’s beautiful ceiling fresco The Creation of the World. The other rooms were slightly damaged. But immediately after the seizure of Warsaw by the Germans, their occupation troops set to demolish the castle. The more valuable objects, even including the central heating and ventilation installations, were dismantled and taken away to Germany.

On 4 October 1939 in Berlin, Adolf Hitler issued the order to blow up the Royal Castle. On 10 October 1939, special German units, under the supervision of history and art experts (Dr. Dagobert Frey, an art historian at the University of Breslau (now: Wrocław); Gustaw Barth, the director of museums in Breslau, and Dr. Joseph Mühlmann, an art historian from Vienna) started to demount floor, marbles, sculptures and stone elements such as fireplaces or moulds. The priceless artifacts were taken to Germany or stored in Kraków’s warehouses. Many of them were also seized by various Nazi dignitaries who resided in Warsaw. The Castle was totally emptied.

Disobeying German orders, and always in danger of being shot, Polish museum staff and experts in art restoration managed to save many of the works of art from the castle, as well as fragments of the stucco-work, the parquet floors, the wood panelling, etc. These were later used in after-war reconstruction. The great service done to Poland by Professor Stanisław Lorentz, in leading this campaign to save the castle’s treasures, is well known. Wermacht sappers then bored tens of thousands of holes for dynamite charges in the stripped walls.

In September 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising, the Germans blew up the Castle’s demolished walls. Leveling the Royal Castle was only a part of a larger plan – the Pabst Plan – the goal of which was to build a monumental Community Hall (ger. Volkshalle) or an equally sizable Congress Hall of NSDAP (National Socialis German Workers Party – ger. Parteivolkshalle) in the Royal Castle’s place and to replace the Zygmunt’s Column with the Germania Monument.

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A pile of rubble, surmounted by only two fragments of walls that somehow managed to survive, was all that was left of the six hundred year old edifice. On one of these fragments, almost like a symbol, part of the stucco decoration remained. This was a cartouche with the royal version of the motto of the Order of the White Eagle — “PRO FIDE, LEGE ET GREGE” (for Faith, Law, and the Nation – literally translated, the last word means a herd).

After the war the Castle has been totally reconstructed…. but this is another story……