Warsaw is a thriving European city, with a rebuilt medieval core, modern glass-and-steel skyscrapers, and a flourishing restaurant scene. But, scattered around the city are reminders of one of the darkest periods in Poland’s history: the more than 4-decade-long communist rule. See below to find out more about communist history in Warsaw.
Communist History in Warsaw
During World War II, the Nazis occupied Warsaw, and they razed the city to the ground in retaliation for the 1944 Warsaw Rising. In 1945, the Red Army liberated the city from the Nazis but any sense of freedom was short-lived as Poland came under control of the Soviets, who set about remodeling and rebuilding Warsaw to meet their social realism vision.
Over the next four decades, Poland remained under a communist regime, its citizens forced to live with economic hardship and political repression. A growing wave of anti-communist fervor in the 1980s culminated in the formation of a new non-communist government in late 1989.
Ways to Learn About Communist History in Warsaw
Visitors to Warsaw can learn about this dark chapter in the city's history in a number of ways.
- Zoom up to the 30th-floor observation deck of the Palace of Culture and Science (Palac Kultury i Nauki or PKiN), a 757-foot-tall (231 meter) tower given as a gift to Poland from the Soviets in the 1950s.
- Explore exhibits at the Life Under Communism Museum (Czar PRL), which displays Communist-era furniture, objects, and memorabilia.
- Visit Constitution Square, the centerpiece of communist Warsaw and home to numerous Stalinist-era buildings.
- See the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party building, the former headquarters of Poland’s dominant communist party.
- View colorful Cold War-era signs dating from the post-Stalinist '60s and '70s era at Warsaw’s Neon Museum.