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Warsaw. They found a commemorative plaque on an abandoned property in Praga

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A plaque commemorating the execution of 50 Poles during World War II was found on one of the properties in Praga. It probably comes from a series prepared by the sculptor Karol Tchorek. The case is being looked at by the office of the Mazowieckie Voivodship Conservator of Monuments.

The discovery of the plaque was announced on Wednesday by representatives of the Triglav Historical and Research Association. Its vice-president Piotr Duda said in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that one of the members of the association noticed a fragment of it on an abandoned property in Praga Południe. We started to wonder where it came from. There were speculations (after the date and number of victims given on the board – ed.) that he may come from Ochota, from the West Railway Station or from Prague, where there was also an execution site on Białołęcka Street – noted Duda.

He also added that the association checked the available inventories of the Tchorek plaques and the one found in Praga does not exist in this location. – The question is whether this is its original location and is really the place of execution from Białołęcka Street, or whether it was later moved there by expanding the infrastructure – said Duda.

Conservationists will take care of the matter

Members of the association notified the office of the Mazowieckie Voivodship Conservator of Monuments. – Our employees made a vision today (on Friday – ed.) of the local Tchorka plaque found on a property in Praga. Most likely, in the near future it can expect the initiation of the procedure of entering it into the register of monuments – Andrzej Mizera, spokesman for MWKZ, told our editorial office.

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We also asked the Capital Conservator of Monuments, Michał Krasucki, about the matter. As he announced in an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl, the employees of his office also intend to look into the case. Having determined where the plaque is currently located, they would like to see its condition and confirm its authenticity. Krasucki also does not rule out that the city will be interested in securing and possibly obtaining it.

On Facebook, Krasucki reported that 165 out of 400 Tchorek plaques have survived to this day. “Many of them were dismantled and replaced in the 1990s.” he reminded.

The association claims that the commemoration matches the two execution sites that were carried out in 1943-44, during the rule of Franz Kutschera, SS and police commander of the Warsaw district. The first one took place on November 17, 1943 at Kopińska Street near the railway embankment at the West Railway Station – several dozen Pawiak prisoners were shot here. The plaque was accidentally destroyed during track reconstruction. Currently, the victims of the execution are commemorated by a free-standing plaque of a new type, placed at Aleje Jerozolimskie, near the West Railway Station.

The second execution also took place on November 17, 1943, at Białołęcka Street in Praga. The German announcement gave the names of 43 people who were shot. However, according to the information provided by the underground cell from Pawiak, 80 prisoners (including five women) were transported to death that day. Perhaps some of the victims were lost in the ruins of the ghetto.

Tchorek plaques commemorate those who died during the occupation

The boards were created in 1949 as a result of a competition announced by SARP. They were created on the basis of Karol Tchorek’s design and commemorate the places of fights and martyrdom in Warsaw from the times of World War II. The plaques were erected in various places in Warsaw starting from the 1950s. However, many of them were destroyed during the demolition of houses and the modernization and expansion of the municipal transport network. In 2013, within the administrative boundaries of Warsaw, there were over 160 Tchorka boards.

Tchorek memorial plaques are made of gray sandstone. They occur in the form of plaques-bas-reliefs, usually built into the walls of buildings, or in the form of free-standing monoliths. Some of the wall plaques have been embedded in fragments of the preserved walls from the war and occupation times (usually fragments of walls of buildings that no longer exist).

The central motif of the boards made according to Tchorek’s original design is the symbol of the Maltese cross. The shield in the middle of the cross is decorated with the inscription: “A place sanctified by the blood of Poles who died for the freedom of their homeland.” In several cases, the inscription on the shield also appears in slightly different variants. Under the symbol of the Maltese cross, there is a short inscription containing basic information about the commemorated event.

Early October 2021 a significant number of plaques have been vandalized. Members of the Warsaw Club of “Gazeta Polska” stuck foam plaques with the word “Germany” on over a hundred boards, thus covering fragments of inscriptions with the word “Nazi” carved in the sandstone. In the opinion of the Warsaw monuments conservator, the glue used by the activists left permanent traces on the sandstone, necessitating the maintenance of the plaques.

Tchorek plaques are monuments. “Although they are not yet listed in the register of monuments, since 1949 they have become so strongly embedded in the historical landscape of the city that it is difficult to imagine the preservation of the memory of occupied Warsaw and the Warsaw Uprising without them,” wrote Michał Krasucki, Warsaw’s conservator.

This is what one of the boards destroyed last year looked like:

Destroyed board at Barska 4Tomasz Zieliński / tvnwarszawa.pl

Main photo source: Facebook / Triglav Research and Historical Association

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