1946 Photographer Using A Painted Backdrop To Cover War-torn Warsaw, Poland After WWII (Colorized)

February 4, 2021

The Juxtaposition Is Starking

World War II unleashed an unimaginable level of loss from human life to entire cities. From Dresden to Tokyo cities were leveled and thousands upon thousands of lives were lost more rapidly than any time in recorded human history. One city that witnessed likely more senseless destruction than any other was Warsaw.

The people of Warsaw endured.

Hitler began WWII by invading Poland under the false pretense that the Polish were persecuting ethnic Germans and a Nazi staged a Polish attack on a German radio station. Even after Hitler and the Germans knew the war was lost, he ordered the complete demolition of Warsaw purely out of spite. The destruction was so complete that Polish authorities considered moving the capital to Łodź. The reconstruction took place mostly thanks to the former residents and displaced Poles who returned and began the process themselves. 

Old Town Square 32 (Karol Pecherski)

Hiter’s Plans For Warsaw

Before Hitler’s grandiose plans of world domination began crumbling beneath him, Warsaw was slated for destruction and major reconstruction. Under the Nazi plan for Germanization, Warsaw was to become a German city of 130,000. A few landmarks were to be saved like the Royal Castle, which would have become Hitler’s state residence. Nazi policy at the time outlined the annihilation of a country’s morale and culture through the flattening of architecture and any physical manifestations of that culture.

In 1944, once Hitler realized that his demonic hopes and dreams were going to pot, he ordered the utter eradication of Warsaw. Such pointless ravaging was Hitler’s revenge for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of the same year. High-ranking Nazi Hans Frank verbalized Hitler’s desires, “When we crush the uprising, Warsaw will get what it deserves – complete annihilation.”