This post marks a trio of Warsaw discoveries I didn’t have time to pursue, thanks to disease and the alternating inertia and flurry of departure.
Lady Ryder of Warsaw
On a day of rain and gloom, I notice a faint neon sign on one of the old toll houses at Unii Lubelskiej (the other one’s a sushi bar). I’m intrigued: the Sue Ryder Museum, such an English name in the middle of all the … szcz … names in Polish. I’m even more intrigued when I discover she named herself Lady Ryder of Warsaw when she was knighted or whatever happens to a woman granted a title.
I discover that she is an English philanthropist with a special relationship with Poland, forged during World War 2, and beginning with the shame she felt when there was no English support for an invaded Poland. She volunteered for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry when she was only 15: it was active in both nursing and intelligence work. She was assigned to the Special Operations Executive, which was formed to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe, in the Polish section. Her job was to drive Dark and Silent agents to the airfield to leave for Europe – 300 goodbyes. She saw helping victims of war as a way of remembering these heroes.
I tried to visit the museum twice, and it was shut both times. When I return …
J’s eager walking as the weather warms up leads him to Fort Mokotów. It was built in the 1880s, bombed by the German Army at the beginning of WW2, and saw heavy fighting in 1939 and also during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. That was all the information I could find in English. I’ll return for a photo-shoot of my own … next time.
The Russian cemetery was another of Joe’s discoveries on a late afternoon walk. The photos are his. It’s the burial place of over 20,000 Soviet soldiers who died fighting against Nazi Germany, many in mass graves. It contains one of the first major monuments to be built in Warsaw to those who fought in the Second World War. It includes examples of Socialist Realist art showing workers (with tools) and other civilians greeting the victorious soldiers.
There are many other places I didn’t visit: the Botanical Gardens near Powsin; the Neon Museum; the theatres that offer English supertitles; an exhibition called “The lost pearls of Warsaw architecture”; the Warsaw Philharmonic; the Museum of Modern Art; a Milk Bar for lunch; Winnie the Pooh Street; a church at Ursynów and the suburb of Żoliborz.
There is also a Beyond-Warsaw list: Kazmierz Dolny, an arts centre and picturesque old town; Biskupin, an archaeological site and open-air museum; Bialystok and the primeval forest, to name a few.