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Warsaw. They want to create the Archives of Capital Reconstruction after the war. They are waiting for witnesses, photos and documents. Where to apply?

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The State Archives in Warsaw are waiting for photos, documents and memories related to the post-war reconstruction of the capital. – The idea behind the Capital Reconstruction Archive project is to show how the inhabitants remember that period. We would like to confront the official world, whose documents we keep, and the world of ordinary people who saw the reconstruction of Warsaw, says Magdalena Wiercińska, director of the Archives.

– We were inspired by our employees for this project. During the talks during the preparations for the celebration of the “Birthday of the Old Town”, it turned out that there are people who still remember the ruined Warsaw and the Old Town from that period. They talked about the artifacts they found here, about how they helped to clear the area of ​​rubble, about the photos of them playing in the ruins of the capital as children – said Magdalena Wiercińska.

As she emphasized, then they realized how many materials, but above all interesting memories, are still possessed by people who remember the moment when the reconstruction of Warsaw, the reconstruction of the Old Town, began. – And we understood that we need to organize a project to obtain and collect these materials in one place, and above all to preserve and make them available to the public – she emphasized.

Reconstruction of tenement houses in the Old TownZbyszek Siemaszko / NAC

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They are looking for people who saw the reconstruction of Warsaw

– We have in our collections the archive of the Capital Reconstruction Office, which is inscribed on the UNESCO World Register “Memory of the World”. But these are all kinds of official materials directly related to the activities of the BOS, from the inventory through reconstruction and reconstruction plans to the personal files of employees. And the idea of ​​the Capital Reconstruction Archive project is to show how the inhabitants remember that period. We would like to confront the official world, whose documents we keep, and the world of ordinary people who saw the reconstruction of Warsaw with their own eyes – said Wiercińska.

The materials obtained from the inhabitants and people associated with the capital at that time can – as she pointed out – show a completely different dimension of those events. – Very personal, you can even say intimate, because it’s really memories from the childhood and youth of these people, who are still alive. I think this is a good time to motivate Varsovians, older or younger, who have family photos or documents, but also perhaps people currently living in other parts of Poland, who stayed in the capital after the war and witnessed those events. We want to encourage them to share these memories, and perhaps also photos, documents that they still have – she said.

They worked on the inventory of insurgent barricades

– Already during the weekend celebrations we had the pleasure of talking to a few people who remember that period. They talked about their memories of helping to clear Warsaw of rubble with their parents. There were two gentlemen whose fathers worked on the inventory of post-uprising barricades. The BOS team has excellent material related to this inventory and it would be fantastic to be able to compare it with the stories of witnesses to history. Two ladies showed us an elegant diploma given by the city authorities in gratitude for its reconstruction to their father, an employee of the Capital Reconstruction Office, reported Wiercińska.

– Sometimes it can also be a souvenir from childhood, a photograph of children at play, with the ruined Warsaw in the background, which is a mine of information for us. We archivists-Warsavianists see it from a completely different perspective, photos taken by someone else, perhaps from a place that has not yet been immortalized. So we appeal to share these photos or documents – she noted.

Reconstruction of tenement houses at Nowy Świat LEAVES

Recordings of personal memories, website and podcasts

Referring to the time range of these materials, she pointed out that the Archive is interested in basically the entire period of Warsaw’s reconstruction. – However, it is difficult to define specific caesuras. Warsaw was slowly rising from the rubble, culminating in the commissioning of the rebuilt Royal Castle in the 1980s, where, however, interior finishing works were still underway. On the other hand, already during the war, the first workshops dealing with the inventory of damage or reconstruction plans were established. The first projects were created after the September campaign. Therefore, we are interested in a really extensive period. All materials related to the reconstruction of the capital are interesting – said Wiercińska.

– As part of this project, we hope above all that we will be able to record their personal memories during conversations with witnesses of history, which we would later like to include in our collections, and also make it public. The summary of the project will be a website, where you will be able to read the documents as well as recordings in the form of podcasts. We also encourage people who still keep documents related to the broadly understood reconstruction of Warsaw – their own, from their parents or grandparents – to submit them to our Archive. We are also interested in making digital copies of the documents they store to make available to researchers. We hope that thanks to this action it will be possible to create a separate team of the social Archives of the Reconstruction of the Capital – she said.

Reconstruction of tenement houses in the Old TownZbyszek Siemaszko / NAC

Submissions

People wishing to share such memories or materials can contact the State Archives in Warsaw at the e-mail address dedicated to the campaign archiveodbudowy@warszawa.ap.gov.pl or number 734 115 618. – You can also simply call our secretariat, which will provide such information. We will certainly answer every contact. We give ourselves about a year for this project and the next birthday of the Old Town seems to be a good date for its culmination – emphasized Wiercińska.

– State Archives are institutions established to store archival materials. The collections are properly secured in our warehouses, packed, we maintain proper storage conditions, temperature and humidity. They are recorded and then also made available to recipients, e.g. for publication or research. The archives are a place where our materials related to the history of our country will find a safe shelter and will be available to a wide range of interested people. The obtained documents become source material in the archives, added the director of the State Archives in Warsaw.

Main photo source: LEAVES



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