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470. The exhibition “Cooperative Warsaw—the Postwar Revival of the Capital”

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Photo Credits: Jacek Sochan

Polish capital, devastated during World War II, rises from the ruins. Warsaw—the invincible city revives from the war’s ashes. The consecutive houses put into service not only provide their inhabitants with a place to live but also evoke a sense of pride in them. The World is impressed with the grandeur and the scale of the planning and construction works being carried out in the city. Regardless of the attitude towards the political system at that time, all of Poland participated in the rebuilding of Warsaw.

Apart from the symbolic investments, such as the reconstruction of the old town or erection of the Marszałkowska Housing District (MDM), it was the apartments that mattered most. The Warsaw Housing Cooperative (WSM), a social cooperative with great prewar traditions of low-cost building for the modest, contributed to the revival of Warsaw by providing it with substantial intellectual and executive capital. It was partly its members who formed the city authorities and Warsaw Reconstruction Office, whereas its technical division became one of the most versatile contractors for housing investments.

Nowadays, almost 2/3 of Varsovians live in cooperative houses, of which a significant part is the legacy of the Warsaw Housing Cooperative. Housing Cooperatives in Koło, Mokotów, Okęcie, Wola, Bielany—just to name the major ones—are subsidiaries of the Warsaw Housing Cooperative.

Our story of the rebuilding of the capital starts in the prewar Żoliborz, where the Warsaw Housing Cooperative came into existence. You are welcome to trace the history of the postwar revival of the capital in the context of its builders: their greatness, human weaknesses, political turbulence and intellectual as well as material legacy from which we continue to benefit today.

The exhibition “Cooperative Warsaw—the Postwar Revival of the Capital” was displayed at Plac Zamkowy, opposite the tower of St. Anne’s Church, from September 16th to October 15th 2013 and is now available at www.odbudowa-stolicy.pl.

The whole project is bilingual, the texts and descriptions for the exhibition were prepared both in Polish and English.

The exhibition is organized by The Social-Cultural Association “Warsaw in Europe” with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Author of this story
Jacek Sochan
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