Call to Demolish Warsaw’s Palace of Culture as an ‘Architectural Monstrosity’ and ‘Affront to Poland’
Veteran and independence organisations in Poland have called for the demolition of Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, claiming that it is an ‘architectural monstrosity’ that is an ‘affront to Polish freedom’.
In a letter to Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz, the Alliance of Veteran and Independence Organisations, based in Kraków, describes the monument as an ‘affront to the validity of the Polish state’, adding that it is a ‘reminder that Poles are slaves to the Soviets’.
The anniversary of the opening of the Palace of Culture, which took place in 1955, falls on July 22. The monument is a listing building, so protected in law, but alliance spokesman Dr Jerzy Bukowski argued that there was a precedent for demolishing the building, in the fate of the Alexander Nevski cathedral, which also stood in Warsaw.
Mr Bukowski said that the cathedral, despite being considered an important example of Russian Orthodox Christian architecture, was knocked down in 1924-1926 – during the early years of the Second Polish Republic.
The organisation has frequently called for the demolition or removal of all monuments reflecting Poland’s years under Soviet occupation. They have expressed particular concern about court cases brought against vandals who have desecrated Soviet-era monuments in Poland.
The association also called for the Soviet-era Polish soldier turned spy Ryszard Kukliński to be honoured as a hero, described as ‘a steadfast soldier of independence, who risked his own life and those of his family… against the Soviet empire of evil and in defence of world peace’.
Other critics of the Palace of Culture have included former Speaker of the Sejm, Radosław Sikorski, who also suggested its demolition. Even a former manager of the building, Waldemar Sawicki, went on the record shortly after Poland’s new-found independence in 1989 to state that it must either make money or go.
Mr Sawicki said: ”If it turns out that, from the economic point of view, this building is not useful, we shall have to tear it down,” he said. ”It will be of no importance whether the palace had been named after Josef Stalin or Lech Wałęsa or George Bush. It will not help if the building cannot earn its living”.
However, Warsaw city council will mark the anniversary of the opening of the Palace of Culture on July 22 with a light show, and a spokeswoman said there was no point discussing its demolition because it had listed building status.
For ordinary Varsovians, it appears to be a love-hate relationship. Many identify with the Palace of Culture as a symbol of the city – but there are plenty who say that the best view of the Polish capital is from the top… the only place from which the Palace itself cannot be seen.