Warsaw from the top, Photo by Birgit Pauli-Haack

Walking in Warsaw

Birgit Pauli-Haack  

Over the Holidays in 2020, I read the “Stanisław Lem’s Reflections on the Objects of His Childhood Home”, an excerpt of Lem’s memoirs: Highcastle, published by MITPress.

“On rare occasions the desk would also store more valuable treasure, more valuable from my point of view then — a box of Lardelli chocolates brought all the way from Warsaw, or a box of candied fruit”

Stanisław Lem, Highcastle, A Remembrance – A playful, witty, reflective memoir of childhood by the science fiction master Stanisław Lem.

It took me back to my trip to Warsaw in 2016, when I stayed in the city for three days, and after dinner a group of us would walk the streets and stop by at an E.Wedel chocolate shop for a late dessert. The smell of melted hot dark chocolate was energizing and I entered briefly a transcendent happy state.

To access the information on the shop, I used Google Maps, which records all my movements with my phone in the pocket. I could pinpoint the location of the store, and its name, and freshen up my memory. Creeping and wonderful simultaneously.

Lem continues, “At which point I was torn between opposite desires: I could either consume the delicacy immediately or prolong the anticipation of its consumption as much as possible. As a rule, I ate everything at once.” – That’s me, too. Christian keeps the best for last…

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the artists of sculptures and murals. The photo of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill is part of an installation at the Museum of Upraising in Warsaw, dedicated to the fight of the Polish against their German oppressors. It tells the story that of abandonment of the resistance fighters by the Western allies and the continuation of oppression by the Russians until the Soviet regime grumbled early 1990ties.

The sculpture on the bottom right honors Stefana Kurylowicza, a famous polish architect. The website of the Foundation, headquartered at the same square wrote about the architect: “Stefan Kuryłowicz is one of the most influential Polish architects at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. He left behind several dozen objects that shaped the face of Warsaw and beyond. He was the author of, among others, the building of the National Forum of Music in Wrocław, the Municipal Stadium in Białystok, the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw, the Hilton Hotel in Gdańsk and the  Modlin Airport  His immense pedagogical merits and the Kuryłowicz & Associates architectural studio established by him still shape the architectural landscape of the capital and Poland.”

Dreaming and imagination are just as important in this profession as a sense of responsibility – which is seemingly opposed to them. – Stefan Kuryłowicz.