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Zygmunt Słomiński – the forgotten mayor of Warsaw. 80 years from execution

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On February 12, 1943, in the area of ​​the Chojnowskie Forests, near Piaseczno, the Germans shot Zygmunt Słomiński, the mayor of Warsaw in 1927-1934. During his presidency, Mokotów and Żoliborz developed, becoming districts full of greenery and new buildings. At that time, several parks and a zoological garden were created in Praga.

– The heroic attitude of Warsaw Mayor Stefan Starzyński in September 1939 overshadowed his predecessor Zygmunt Słomiński – a figure undoubtedly meritorious for the capital, but today very much forgotten. It was the legend of the heroic president who stayed in the city, did not escape and did not bend to the enemy that pushed his predecessors into the background – said Varsavianist and historian from the Warsaw Museum of Cursed Soldiers and Political Prisoners of the People’s Republic of Poland, Michał Gruszczyński.

The chief engineer of Warsaw, he supervised the demolition of the cathedral on Saski Square

Zygmunt Joachim Słomiński was born on September 15, 1879 in Piotrków in a landowning family. In the years 1897-1898 he studied mathematics at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the Imperial University of Warsaw, and then from 1899 to 1902 at the Faculty of Engineering and Construction of the Polytechnic Institute (now the Warsaw University of Technology).

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After graduation, he was appointed a district architect in Sandomierz. In 1910 he settled in Radom. During World War I he served in the Russian army. On November 2, 1918, he was appointed Commissioner of the Republic of Poland for the Radom district. A year later, he became the director of public works in Lublin. He worked in the Committee for Building Buildings of the Catholic University of Lublin as the head of the technical committee. During the Polish-Bolshevik war, he held the position of manager of military engineering works.

In the years 1924-1927 he was the head of the Technical Department of the Municipality of the Capital City of Warsaw. of Warsaw and chief engineer of the capital. From February to June 1926, he personally directed the demolition works of the monumental Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Saski Square.

“From February 15 this year – i.e. when the demolition was carried out by the magistrate – until the end of July, 38,000 m3 of rubble, 600 m3 of granite, 125,000 pieces of white face brick and 70 tons of iron were transported,” wrote historian Michał Zarychta in the 2018 issue in the study “Demolition of the former Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Saski Square in Warsaw. A case study in the field of politics and administration of central and local government authorities of the reborn Republic of Poland”.

In July 1927, after nine rounds of voting by the City Council, as a non-partisan expert and candidate of the National Economic Circle, he was elected mayor of the capital city of Warsaw.

Zygmunt Slominski (1927)National Digital Archive

Mayor of Warsaw in the years 1927-1934, he was accused of mismanagement

– Słomiński cared for the city. During his presidency, Mokotów and Żoliborz developed, becoming districts full of greenery and new buildings. On his initiative, Traugutt and Żeromski parks were established near the Citadel. A zoological garden was established in Praga. The president initiated the “Clean Warsaw” campaign, introduced e.g. chlorination of water by the Water and Sewage Department. Communication was expanded: new tram and bus lines were created. The municipal gasworks in Wola were rebuilt, which partly replaced the outdated facility in Ludna. Large public buildings were erected, e.g. part of the National Museum and the headquarters of BGK at Aleje Jerozolimskie – explained Michał Gruszczyński, noting that part of Słomiński’s rule fell during the world economic crisis after 1929, which also affected Poland and its capital to a large extent.

At the end of the 1920s, the mayor established a studio of the General Plan of the City of Warsaw, which assumed its expansion, the creation of new communication arteries and the expansion of the city’s infrastructure. However, the large deficit of the municipal budget slowed down or blocked many of Słomiński’s initiatives. On February 14, 1934, he resigned.

– He was a good organizer and president of the capital, but he did not come from the then influential legionary milieu, to which Major Starzyński belonged. He was accused of mismanagement, but political considerations decided about his departure. Słomiński was rather closer to the National Democratic milieu and although he did not belong to it, this was negatively perceived in the circles of power. It is worth recalling that Starzyński was a commission president, i.e. appointed from above by an administrative decision of the authorities. He accepted the General Development Plan prepared by his predecessor and tried to implement it – Gruszczyński pointed out, adding that “Starzyński became a legend only in September 1939, but before the war he was not liked by a large part of the capital’s inhabitants, and they liked him more just his predecessor.

He was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Gold Cross of Merit, the Medal of Regaining Independence and the medal “Poland for its Defender”. He published texts in specialist magazines on architecture and urban planning and was the author of specialist publications and brochures, including: “Organisation of technical administration in Poland” (1926), “Development of Warsaw” (1927), “Needs of Warsaw” (1929), ” Modern economy of the capital” (1932) and “Economy of Warsaw in the time of crisis 1930-34” (1935).

In the years 1934-1935 he was the director of Tramwaje Warszawskie, he was dismissed by Starzyński. Until the outbreak of the war he worked as a building surveyor.

Zygmunt Slominski (1931)National Digital Archive

Arrested by the Gestapo, killed by the Germans in the forest. Today it has its own street

Gestapo officers arrested Słomiński on the night of November 11, 1942 in his house at 15 Filtrowa Street in Kolonia Staszica. He was imprisoned in Pawiak and in a cell in the basement of the Gestapo headquarters at Aleja Szucha 25. At that time, the policy of German terror intensified. Polish hostages were shot both in public executions on the streets and elsewhere, mainly in the forests around the capital.

On February 12, 1943, in the Chojnów Forests, near Piaseczno, next to the buildings of the now non-existent Stefanów railway station, the Germans shot Słomiński, as well as, among others: the first commander of the Warsaw-voivodeship ZWZ / AK colonel. WP Alojzy Horak, representative of the Government Delegation for Poland Jan Dybowski ps. Jawor, lecturer at the Higher Theological Seminary in Siedlce, Fr. Jan Niedziałek, a member of the command of the Small Sabotage Organization “Wawer” Kazimierz Cetnarowicz pseud. Lwowicz II and the journalist of the pre-war “Kurier Warszawski” Władysław Junosi-Szaniawski.

“On the spot, I met the gamekeeper of the local forest who saw the execution on February 12, 1943, sitting hidden in a nearby tree. He claimed that they were prisoners from Pawiak, because they were brought in shacks from Warsaw. There were 70 of them. They were shot in ten by shooting in the back of the skull. The prisoners were in their underwear or naked” – witness Franciszek Skibniewski testified before the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw on May 15, 1945.

The remains of the former president of the capital were exhumed and buried at the Powązki Cemetery. Since May 21, 1991, the artery connecting the Gdański Bridge with Wola has been named after Zygmunt Słomiński (in the years of the People’s Republic of Poland it was patronized by the communist activist Marian Buczek). The extension of the same artery on the other side of the Vistula has been named after Stefan Starzyński since 1959 and still is today.

Read also: Hanna Krall became the honorary ambassador of the “Daffodils” campaign

“Don’t be indifferent” – Marian Turski on the slogan of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto UprisingTVN24

Main photo source: National Digital Archive

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