One of the best museums I have ever been in is the Warsaw Uprising Museum, and I’ve been to most of the Smithsonian branches in Washington, D.C. As a history geek with a special interest, I had a hard time leaving after four hours, but we had something else on the agenda that day.
The museum could not have been built under communists. Why? Because the communists prohibited any recognition of Poles who fought for their country. And in fact, immediately after the war, any remaining Poles who fought against the Germans were persecuted by the Soviets as potential leaders in a rebellion against them. Though the Soviets eased up slightly after 1956, no plagues or statues could be erected to Polish army leaders. Poles just began to gather every August 1 at a cemetery to honor their own.
The museum opened in 2004 – the same year that Henry Zguda passed away. He never had the opportunity to visit the place, but then he knew what Poles have known all along – Poland has never gotten enough credit for their loss and sacrifice. I consider it a must-see if you ever visit Warsaw.
There’s a surprisingly huge collection of weapons, bombs, guns from both sides as well as a bomber airplane suspended like the Air and Space Museum in D.C. Insurgent Poles buried these – as more buildings are excavated and renovated, more caches of old Uprising weapons are being found.
The Museum Web site is available in English, and they have a virtual museum on-line if you really want more information. The link is below.