A Quick Tour Around Warsaw
I have had the pleasure of visiting Warsaw for the weekend, so I thought in a small way I would take you with me.
This is the Old Town. The buildings have a wonderful time-worn quality that has to be somewhat deceptive as most of them are fewer than eighty years old. I love it though.
Poland treasures its artists and science. So it should. Polish art and science was suppressed throughout partitioning, and World War, and under communism. Its cultural giants are national heroes. Here is the poet Adam Mickiewicz and the novelist Bolesław Prus.
Here, Marie Curie surveys the Wisła:
Of course, central Warsaw is a major tourist hotspot - so there is a little kitsch. Who these Squid Game cuddly toys are aimed at is beyond me. Cute little fellas aren’t they.
A little outside the Old Town, signs of Poland’s culture wars are evident. Here, graffiti artists duel with different messages: “abortion is murder” and “church is murder”.
Geopolitics is on everyone’s minds. Poland is welcoming Ukrainian refugees (and their pets) and has denounced Putin's war. Little signs of solidarity are everywhere.
Here, supplies are being donated:
The real action is here though. What is this imposing place? Why, yes, it’s the Russian Embassy - deliberately constructed, as far as I can tell, so as to be bigger than the Polish presidential palace up the road.
The police are out in force to protect the Russian ambassador from the undoubtedly unpleasant experience of having his home invaded.
I stopped to pay respects to Wojciech Korfanty, who fought for the freedom of my region, Silesia:
And to Piłsudski:
Last night I met an American man who had been living in Kiev and had caught a bus out just before the invasion. He said that he had heard that the Russians were stocking blood plasma and realised what that meant. Shaking his head, he told me how Kiev had been calm enough just days before that it played host to a water polo tournament.
The people of Warsaw know what it means to be subjected to a brutal invasion. Putin is probably attacking Kiev to try to win the war as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Ukrainians will do their best to make it difficult. It is their home after all. Still, I pray that Kiev does not face the bloodshed and destruction faced by Warsaw in World War Two. Honour and beauty can arise from tragedy. But tragedy it remains.