Investigation launched following rumours that mysterious Lublin ruins belonged to long-forgotten monument to the Unknown Soldier
Mysterious ruins on the site of a hospital in eastern Poland are at the centre of a sensational theory that they are part of a forgotten monument to the Unknown Soldier from the interwar period.
Although the ruins at the site of the 1st Military Clinical Hospital in Lublin were known for some time, investigations into their provenance were begun after an intrigued worker reported the site for investigation to the local Conservator of Monuments after remembering stories from post-war doctors at the hospital about their origins.
The unnamed hospital worker said: “Doctors who worked at the hospital in the post-war years said they came from a disassembled monument to the Unknown Soldier which was erected in the interwar period on [Lublin’s] Lithuanian Square.”
Visiting the site to verify the theory, the Lublin Conservator of Monuments confirmed the possibility of the ruins belonging to a monument.
Writing publicly after their visit, the Conservator said: “The sandstone blocks have a height of around 37-40 cm and are machined with a chisel.
“The surfaces are smooth – we didn’t find any inscriptions, but it has to be noted that they create a prism, therefore at this stage it isn’t possible to view them carefully, and ‘upsetting them’ would require using a jack.”
They added: “The sandstone slabs are low (they have a height around 12cm). They are evenly cut, they have smooth edges with a chisel track running down the centre.
“On the sides of the sandstone slabs, signs of mortar are visible, thus they were most likely stuck together and created a larger surface, maybe a base for something.
“Therefore the stone blocks may come from a deconstructed composition, it can’t be ruled out that they are the remnants of a monument.”
However the mystery is not yet definitely solved as so little is known about Lublin’s monument of the Unknown Soldier.
Though one photograph exists at the Museum of the City of Lublin, it shows the monument shrouded with wreaths and not clearly visible.
The first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument in Europe was erected in 1920 in Paris, and in 1925 one was arranged in Warsaw.
The first stage involved determining a place to excavate remains, testing the authenticity of the grave, transporting the remains first to Lviv (then Lwόw) and then on the 1st of November 1925, by train to Warsaw.
It is known that during their journey, the train passed through the station at Lublin where local commemorations were held when the train stopped for 15 minutes.
After this, in some towns, slabs were prepared to commemorate the Unknown Soldier, although a document sent to all Polish voivodeships in October 1925 warned their Mayors about the lack of government consent to build monuments similar to the one in Warsaw.
The document continued that the capital’s monument was the “only worthy symbol of the nation’s self-sacrificing effort to defend its own state” and encouraged self-governments to honour their war dead with “modest monuments”.
Investigations into the hospital ruins have so far found confirmation from a document from November 1925, that a commemorative slab was found in Lublin and reveal discussions about placing it in the Museum of the city of Lublin.
Another document in the Lublin State Archives shows evidence of a Polish independence day celebration in 1936, whose meeting place was given as the monument of the Unknown Soldier.