Exhibition reveals unique pre-war photographs of Saski Palace
Previously unpublished pre-war photos of the Saski Palace have gone on show at an exhibition to celebrate the historic building’s reconstruction.
Organised by the Polish Press Agency (PAP), the first showing of the photos from the collection of Warsaw photographer Marian Leśniewski, took place in October 2021 during the 590 Congress in Warsaw.
Entitled "Saski Palace: the Return of History", the exhibition documents not only the architecture of the Palace itself and the neighbouring buildings, but also events taking place around the Palace, and even the style of clothes worn by Warsaw residents strolling around the Saski Garden.
Katarzyna Liebrecht, exhibition curator and head of the Photo Archive Team at PAP, said: "The photographs, presented both in printed form and displayed on the screen in electronic format, show the Saski Palace in all its glory at the time proving how important it was on the map of pre-war Warsaw.”
Included among the photos, the oldest of which date back to 1915, is the ceremonial unveiling of the monument to Prince Józef Poniatowski with the participation of Poland’s Józef Piłsudski and France’s Ferdinand Foch in 1923.
Others show an airplane’s view of Marshal Józef Piłsudski Square with the Saski Palace and the nearby Bruehl Palace during a military inspection on May 3rd,1929. The exhibition also features a photo of the participants of the Polish Scout Expedition "With a Ford Around the World".
Marcin Stefaniak, director of the PZU Corporate Communication Office which is patron of the exhibition said: "The PZU Group - as an indigenously Polish company that understands Polish matters - is involved in the national project of rebuilding the Saski Palace, including activities of promoting and informing about its history."
He added that today the Saski Palace is generally associated with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, while in the past it was also the home of Fryderyk Chopin and the place where Polish mathematicians and cryptologists deciphered Enigma.
The 40 photos of the Saski Palace are just a part of the 18 million photos of the PAP archival collection from the last 100 years, documenting the most important events in the recent history of Poland - not only historical and cultural, but also political, social, economic, scientific and sports.
The Saxon Palace was erected as a result of the expansion of the 17th-century palace of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn. In the interwar period, the Palace was the seat 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 grave commemorating the nameless soldiers who died defending Poland.
The reconstruction of the western frontage of Piłsudski Square is to remind both the scale of the destruction of Warsaw and to show the country's care for cultural heritage.
The new objects will combine representative and utility functions. It is also planned to create an educational, cultural and entertainment space for the residents of Warsaw and tourists.