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Poland begins work to rebuild historic Saxon Palace: officials

19.08.2022 13:30
Poland's government has announced the start of work to rebuild the historic Saxon Palace, a massive project in Warsaw that is expected to be completed in 2030 at a cost of some PLN 2.5 billion (EUR 530 million).
Jarosław Sellin
Jarosław SellinWojciech Kusiński/Polskie Radio

The palace, which was destroyed by the Germans in 1944, has been described as “one of Poland’s most majestic buildings before the Second World War."

Deputy Culture and National Heritage Minister Jarosław Sellin told public broadcaster Polish Radio on Friday that the reconstruction effort was one of the most ambitious investment projects undertaken by his country's conservative government since it came into power in 2015.

"The project is expensive, but many Polish companies and employees will benefit from it," Sellin said.

He added that the reconstruction of the Saxon Palace was part of efforts to rebuild the Polish capital from the ruins of World War II.

"It's a matter of national dignity and honour," Sellin told Polish Radio.

In the early 19th century, the Saxon Palace housed a high school in which Romantic composer Frederic Chopin’s father taught French, living with his family on the palace premises.

Following World War I, the Saxon Palace served as the headquarters of the Polish General Staff.

From 1930 to 1937, the building was used by the Polish Armed Forces Cipher Office, and it was there that the German Enigma machine codes were first cracked in 1932 by three Polish mathematicians, Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Żygalski, according to a report last year by the Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli daily reported at the time that they “created a copy of the German Enigma machine, known as the Polish Enigma, and … in the summer of 1939, at a meeting of French and British cryptologists near Warsaw, they … passed on two of their Enigma machine replicas, one to the British and one to the French.”

This laid the foundations for the wartime code-breaking carried out by Britain and their allies, the Jerusalem Post noted.

After suppressing the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the Germans blew up the palace as part of their planned destruction of Warsaw.

Polish President Andrzej Duda last year submitted a bill to parliament on the rebuilding of the Saxon Palace as a symbolic completion of the city’s reconstruction from the ruins of World War II.

At a ceremony last summer, Duda told high-ranking officials gathered at Warsaw's Piłsudski Square, where the Saxon Palace stood until 1944, that the site, alongside the Royal Castle, was one of the architectural symbols of the Polish capital.

The only section of the Saxon Palace which has survived to this day is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, part of Warsaw's central Piłsudski Square.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Warsaw's central Piłsudski Square. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Warsaw's central Piłsudski Square. Photo: PAP/Albert Zawada


Source: IAR, PAP