To remind the unknown history of the Warsaw downtown quarter before the IIWW and the erection of the Palace of Culture and Science, Magdalena Stopa searched for the bygone inhabitants of this place or their children and grandchildren. Sixteen persons answered on her call, among them a Polish actor Jan Kobuszewski or an American Sovietologist Richard Pipes. All were portrayed by photographer Jan Brykczyński in their former residences area, which is currently the Parade Square (Plac Defilad) or the interior of the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki). The book is also illustrated with unknown photographs from the public archives and from family collections of the former Warsaw downtown quarter inhabitants.
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PAP: You managed to reach the residents of the past Warsaw downtown streets. Who were they? How did you find them?
Magdalena Stopa: contacts, that I’ve made while working on my previous book “Buttes. Warsaw’s townhouses and it’s inhabitants” with the oldest inhabitants of the Warsaw downtown, were very helpful. I was also looking for people who lived in the present day Palace of Culture and Science and the Parade Square area via press, radio and television stations.
I found 16 people. Among them is i.a. world-renowned American historian Richard Pipes or the Polish actor Jan Kobuszewski. The oldest of my interlocutors was born in 1919. Five people were born in the 20s. I also talked with representatives of the younger generation, for example with Michał Fogg – the great-grandson of Polish singer Mieczysław Fogg, who opened the famous Cafe Fogg in March 1945 at Marszałkowska Street No. 119. This was the first café in a postwar Warsaw.
PAP: What do they remember ?
Magdalena Stopa: A lot. Many of them, despite advanced age, have an excellent memory. They mentioned the names of their neighbors, caretakers, even the names of the owners of nearby shops. Once I verified it with the prewar phone book, everything made sense! My interlocutors described the appearance of the apartments, stairwells and courtyards, in which they were brought up.
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To read the whole interview, conducted by Maciej Replewicz from the Polish Press Agency, follow the link: http://dzieje.pl/ksiazki/przed-wojna-i-palacem