Who rebuilt Warsaw after World War II? Where did these people live? Rebuilding Warsaw — Osiedle Jazdów, the village built to house Warsaw’s post-war rebuilders, opens for tours!
This weekend saw the inauguration of the latest chapter of the Otwarty Jazdów festival. A six-week cultural and educational extravaganza jointly held by NGOs found inside the Osiedle Jazdów estate. Find out more about the tours of the village built for families rebuilding Warsaw?
Sub-divided into different themes, the coming weeks will see Mondays set aside for English- and Polish-language walking tours. Tuesdays offer literary workshops and Wednesdays artistic happenings. Prepare yourselves for exciting performances and eye-catching installations!
Thursdays will see the spotlight handed to outdoor cinema screenings. On Fridays the onus shifts to live music from both international bands and groups hailing from Poland’s provinces. Lined-up for Saturdays, meanwhile, are family and kid-friendly events involving art and craft workshops.
Finally, Sundays will celebrate the environment – especially, the creatures found within the city: bees, hedgehogs, etc.
But what, you might ask, exactly is the Osiedle Jazdów estate? A picture of pastoral bliss, find this picturesque micro community nestled in the center of the city bounded by Trasa Łazienkowska directly east, and Park Ujazdowski to the south.
Tangled in the story of the post-war rebirth of Warsaw, this enchanting enclave began life with the decision to rebuild the town that the Nazis had left as a smoking sea of rubble.
It was a brave move. With total destruction approaching 84%, there were many that argued that the capital should simply be shunted elsewhere.
Warsaw, they said, could be left as it is as the ultimate memorial to the tragedy of war. Given the scale of the task, there was a logic to this thinking. However, it didn’t account for the indomitable desire to rebuild from scratch. The city would live again!
Of the immediate problems was finding the architects and engineers involved in this process somewhere to live. The answer: Osiedle Jazdów. Making full use of easy-to-assemble cabins confiscated from Finland by Stalin as reparations, 95 of these were built in the area of Jazdów.
In July, 1945, the first 30 tenants moved in, and on August 1st, the development officially opened. Coinciding with the only time the Communist authorities formally allowed anniversary commemorations for the Warsaw Uprising, the public saw the launch of Osiedle Jazdów as an optimistic sign of good times ahead.
Defined by their quaint wooden style and black tar roofs, these 54 sq/m units quickly became home to a thriving self-contained world.
There was an artesian well, a shrine, kindergarten, grocery outlet and kiosk. In winter, an ice rink and toboggan run added to the sense of a tranquil idyll of utopian joy. All the time, though, these ‘Finnish Houses’ meant merely a stop-gap solution for a city on the mend.
Surviving their initial 1955 expiry date, many nonetheless found themselves dismantled as the years rolled forward: the construction of Trasa Łazienkowska and, later, the French Embassy, saw dozens torn down. Yet despite the encroachment of the modern world, the community continued to thrive. At the time, tours of the village built to house those rebuilding Warsaw were not yet offered!
Whilst several of the original architects moved on to pastures new, the 1960s wave of artists, actors, writers and creatives took their place.
In a city shackled by concrete and Communism, this extraordinary area became a hub of free-thought and Bohemian living. As such, it seemed natural that it was to here that fans of the Beatles headed to mark the first anniversary of John Lennon’s death.
Smoking weed and singing Giving Peace A Chance (in hindsight, ironic with the knowledge that the introduction of Martial Law lay just days away), they finished off by hanging an impromptu sign on a street that had been hitherto untitled. It read: ul. Lennona.
Ten years on. Poland is now in the throes of its post-Communist transformation. The estate’s name, finally given permanence by officials, added to the map.
Was this a sign that the local government had understood the value of the area? Of course not. More houses felled in the new millennium to make way for the German Embassy. By 2011 a nadir was reached. Osiedle Jazdów, it was announced, would soon go forever.
Uproar followed, with disaster only averted when the intervention of the Finnish Ambassador helped lend a voice to those protesting the decision.
With outright demolition avoided, cultural life bloomed once more with the Otwarty Jazdów project finding homes for a variety of NGOs inside vacated properties.
Unperturbed by the challenges and high-running costs associated with living here, eight families remain resident, with another 13 cabins turned over for the use of NGOs and other such ventures.
These include an Embassy for Traditional Music, a food sharing point, a co-working space and a Solatorium specializing in light therapy.
Perhaps most high profile of all is an urban beekeeping foundation housing 20,000 bees. Illegal when it first opened, its subsequent success played a leading role in changing laws connected to this pursuit.
In this regard, Jazdów has become more than just a pretty face and evolved into a pioneering venture at the forefront of several social, eco and cultural initiatives – now firmly ensconced in Warsaw’s consciousness, consider this festival its calling card. Insider encourages to make use of the tours of the village built to house those rebuilding Warsaw — they’re a great escape from the busy city!
For a full schedule of events, see: facebook
For more on the neighborhood, see: website