Search for Pajek Family and 4600 miles trip to Poland. Part 7. Nowa Huta – Orwellian settlement.

Today we left Sucha.

It was a bit sad because there is more family to see and more ancestry to trace. Zbigniew will be coming back to the area after he drives us back to Krakow so that he can get the records for Julien’s mother. Hopefully the priest will have found the records we were looking to find. We were off to have breakfast across the street and then on to Krakow.

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Arrived back at the hotel and now we wait for Ewa to come for our last tour. We walked from the hotel Schindler’s factory. Ewa gave us the tour. It was very interesting. We will have to watch Schindler’s List now.

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After the factory it was off to catch a tram to go out to Nowa Huta. The huge Socialist Realist suburb of Nowa Huta is the direct antithesis of everything cuddly Kraków is. Gargoyles and tourists. Not here. The Orwellian settlement of Nowa Huta is one of only two entirely pre-planned socialist realist cities ever built (the other being Magnitogorsk in Russia’s Ural Mountains), and one of the finest examples of deliberate social engineering in the world. Funded by the Soviet Union, Nowa Huta swallowed up a huge swathe of ideal agricultural land, and the ancient village of Kościelniki (as well as parts of Mogiła and Krzesławice) in an attempt to create an in-your-face proletarian opponent to intellectual, artsy-fartsy, fairytale Kraków.

The decision to build NH was rubber stamped on May 17, 1947 and over the next few years construction of a model city for 100,000 people sprung up at breakneck speed. Built to impress, Nowa Huta featured wide, tree-lined avenues, parks, lakes and the officially sanctioned architectural style of the time – Socialist Realism.

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Nowa Huta’s architects strove to construct the ideal city, with ironic inspiration coming from the neighbourhood blocks built in 1920s New York (that despicable western metropolis). Careful planning was key, and the suburb was designed with ‘efficient mutual control’ in mind: wide streets would prevent the spread of fire and the profusion of trees would easily soak up a nuclear blast, while the layout was such that the city could easily be turned into a fortress if it came under attack. It was a massive task, with volunteer workers flocking from across Poland to take part in this bold project. Feats of personal sacrifice were rife and encouraged with one man, Piotr Ożański, publicly credited with laying a stupendous 33,000 bricks in one single day. For the workers life was tough; many were still sleeping in tents when the first winter arrived, and crime was rampant.) It was hard to believe that this buildings were only built in the 1950s. They look so much older. After a short tour around the town we headed back to the trams to take us back to the hotel.

We had to say goodbye to Ewa. She was an excellent guide and was very conscious of any needs we might have.

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We checked with Zbigniew on how he made out with the priest. Apparently the priest was very helpful and we now have the marriage record for Mom’s grandparents and we go back to 1800 for her grandmother’s family. All in all it was a good find! After checking back into the hotel we went to dinner. We went over to Kazmierz Square and settled on Polish/Jewish cuisine. The food was excellent and so was the bottle of wine. When the waiter brought the check he also brought three shots of cherry vodka. Mom had 3 glasses of wine and drank her shot of cherry vodka. It was a hilarious walk home, which thankfully was only two blocks. Mom was laughing and having a bit of trouble walking.

I’d say she had a great time in Poland.


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