Never-before-seen pre-war photos of the Saski Palace were displayed at an exhibition to celebrate the reconstruction of the historic building.
Organized by the Polish Press Agency (PAP), the first exhibition of photos from the collection of Warsaw photographer Marian Leśniewski took place in October 2021 during the 590 Congress in Warsaw.
Entitled “Palais Saski: The Return of History”, the exhibition documents not only the architecture of the Palace itself and neighboring buildings, but also the events that take place around the Palace, and even the style of clothing worn. by Warsaw residents walking through the Saski Garden.
Katarzyna Liebrecht, curator of the exhibition and head of the PAP’s photographic archives team, said: “The photographs, presented both in printed form and displayed on screen in electronic format, show the Saski Palace in all its splendor at the time, proving how important it was, was featured on the map of pre-war Warsaw.
Among the photos, the oldest of which date from 1915, is the inauguration ceremony of the monument to Prince Józef Poniatowski with the participation of the Pole Józef Piłsudski and the Frenchman Ferdinand Foch in 1923.
Others show an aerial view of Marshal Józef Piłsudski Square with nearby Saski Palace and Bruehl Palace during a military inspection on May 3, 1929. The exhibit also features a photo of the expedition participants Polish scout “With a Ford around the world”.
Marcin Stefaniak, director of the corporate communication office of PZU, which is sponsoring the exhibition, said: “The PZU Group – as an indigenous Polish company that understands Polish issues – is involved in the national project for the reconstruction of the Saski Palace, including promotional activities and informing about its history.”
He added that today Saski Palace is commonly associated with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, while in the past it was also the home of Frederic Chopin and the place where Polish mathematicians and cryptologists deciphered Enigma.
The 40 photos from the Saski Palace are only part of the 18 million photos in the PAP archive collection from the past 100 years, documenting the most important events in Poland’s recent history – not only historical and cultural, but also political, social, economic, scientific and sports.
The Saxon Palace was erected following the expansion of the 17th century palace of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn. In the interwar period, the palace was the headquarters of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces.
The building was completely destroyed by the Germans at the end of December 1944.
Its only trace is a fragment of the three central arcades with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a symbolic tomb commemorating the nameless soldiers who died defending Poland.
The reconstruction of the western facade of Piłsudski Square aims to both recall the extent of the destruction of Warsaw and to show the country’s attention to cultural heritage.
The new objects will combine representative and utilitarian functions. It is also planned to create an educational, cultural and entertainment space for Warsaw residents and tourists.