The second destination on our honeymoon was Warsaw. Warsaw and its people are very resilient. It is a city that on the brink of prosperity, saw destruction that came by bomb in 1939. Since then, it was a long, and not always successful fight whether you were a Jew forced into the ghetto, a member of the Home Army, or a resident of Warsaw dealing with the occupation. We took in not only the beauty of the city, but also its history.
Since seeing The Zookeeper’s Wife, we knew we wanted to visit the Warsaw Zoo. We had been intrigued by the World War II history, and we sought out sites to help us learn about the past. While at the zoo we went on a detailed tour that walked us through the Zabinski home, and showed us how they helped save hundreds of Jews from the ghetto.
The movie also made us more aware of the Warsaw Uprising. There are markers all over the city talking about how the 50,000 urban soldiers fought back against the Germans. They took the city over after a few days, but German reinforcements destroyed the Home Army since very little aide was supplied by the allies. There was a great museum that walked us through the timeline and showed how the people did not want to give up their city.
After the heart-breaking loss during the war, the terror continued with the days of communism. We did not have enough time to delve into the effects of communism in Warsaw, but we could see how once again the people could not be free.
This city has been rebuilt after nearly 85% of the city center was destroyed in World War II; first from the bombing, then from the destruction caused by the Germans as revenge for the uprising. They tried to rebuild it the way it was; even accounting for imperfections like leaning buildings. Although this part of our trip was faced with some challenges, like the language barrier, the difficulties were far outweighed by our experience here. The food, the history, and the atmosphere are all definitely worth another visit someday.