Kapuściński apartment where journalist wrote some of his most renowned books is finally recognised with commemorative plaque
The apartment where Poland’s best known reporter and globally beloved writer Ryszard Kapuściński wrote some of his most renowned books has been recognised by a commemorative plaque.
Kapuścińśki lived in the post-war, four-storey block on Pustola street in Warsaw’s Wola district with his wife Alicja and daughter Rene from 1965 to 1988.
On his returns from his many trips to Africa, the Americas and the Middle East, the famous Polish Press Agency reporter wrote the books that would earn him global fame including The Emperor, The Soccer War and Shah of Shahs.
The plaque is the brainchild of Izabella Podzińska, a neighbour who as a young girl lived opposite the block of flats where Kapuściński once lived.
“We could almost see each other through the windows, we were separated by a small alley. But he was rarely at home, because he travelled a lot. It was more common to see his wife and daughter," she said at the unveiling of the plaque on Monday.
She said that she was never brave enough to speak to him but remembers the clatter of his typewriter that could be heard at different times of the day and night.
Even though Kapuściński lived in the building for 23 of his most productive years, it is relatively unknown and little talked about.
Better known is the wooden house on Pole Mokotowskie where he lived with his family after moving to Warsaw after the war in 1946.
The building is currently undergoing a two-million-zloty refurbishment and will become the Ryszard Kapuściński Centre for Reportage.
Also well-documented is his home in what is called the Staszic Colony, an upscale residential development built between the wars in the Ochota district where Kapuściński lived until the end of his life with his wife Alicja, who died in March this year.
Alicja Kapuścińśka once said one of the reasons they moved out of the apartment on Pustola was that there was no space for his books.
She said: "When we still lived in Wola, on Pustola Street, he was worried that there was no room for them. After we moved, even though this flat is much bigger than the previous one, because it has 80 metres, there was still no room for them."
The home on Pustola street has been like a black hole in the public awareness of the writer.
Situated in the Ulrychów housing estate in Warsaw's Wola district, it was an area on the outskirts of Warsaw when Kapuściński moved there.
Before the socialist housing units arrived in the 1950s and 60s, the area was farmland and boasted one hundred metre-long greenhouses where Poland’s first pineapples were cultivated.
Today, it is a peaceful and green part of the city, just behind Sowiński Park and relatively close to the centre.
Podzińska’s determination has resulted in a small plastic commemorative plaque with the words: “The world-famous reporter, writer, poet and photographer lived in this building in the years 1965-1988.”
Underlining the fact that his time living in Wola is relatively unknown, the plaque features a photo of Kapuściński in his office at his later home in Ochota.
At the unveiling, Podzińśka said that it is fitting that the plaque is being unveiled this year, an anniversary year for Kapuściński in which he would have turned 90 and also the 15th anniversary of his death"
She shared her memories of living in the great writer’s shadow, saying “I would also see him at the nearby grocery shop. He often dressed in sporty clothes. He moved quickly, was very energetic and alert, although he had a slight limp. I also remember that he had a [small Fiat], probably yellow"
"I also remember the clatter of his typewriter. He used to write especially in the evenings. It did not bother me, in fact it had a certain charm, because I already knew that it was the famous Kapuściński himself who was writing next to me."
Stanisław Zawiśliński, President of the Ryszard Kapuściński Research and Education Centre Foundation which financed the commemorative plaque, said Kapuściński’s “works that describe the mechanisms of power and remain extremely relevant to this day.”