Warsaw Rising Museum
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During a class taken as part of my Security and Society program, a professor noted that the Poles were great at two things: “Uprising, and terribly failing at it.” Since the city of Warsaw is history everywhere you look, I decided to go to the Warsaw Rising Museum to learn about the history I saw every day. The added bonus of free admission to everyone on Sundays made it even easier to want to go.
The museum wastes no space as the second you walk into the building the tour starts. With arrows pointing in the direction the time line follows, it is easy to understand where to start and then which way to head next. The museum first starts with the rise of the Nazi power and therefore the rise of the Polish Resistance Group. The museum does a fantastic job at representing all individuals that had any role whatsoever in the fight against any non-Polish power. In the beginning of the museum there is even a room dedicated to the children who helped the resistance. The room showed the various different jobs a child would have, the toys that the children would play with, and a movie of children in action showed continuously on the back wall.
The tour goes on to have a timeline of events from the very beginning of the Nazi Regime taking over Poland. Throughout the timeline, the wall offers explanations and pictures of the type of treatment the Poles received. The wall ends with the building of the Warsaw Ghetto, with pictures and memories written out with what life was like inside the ghetto walls.
As you follow the arrows to take an elevator upstairs, you are led to the part of the museum that describes the actual uprising. A whole room is dedicated to the makeshift military that was made, and continues though the history of the Polish Army to the present day. The best part of the museum was the 3D movie showing what the city looked like before, during, and after the War. It was shocking to the core to witness how much the city was torn down. It then gave me a deeper appreciation to see what it is today.
The history brought to life in this museum is fascinating, and I believe that the museum does a wonderful job at detailing the oppression that the Poles experienced. My only warning about this museum is that because it is free to the public on Sundays, it attracts crowds across the spectrum. This includes school-aged children that don’t necessarily respect or even have a desire to learn the history on display at this museum. The moment of silence I observed respectfully while walking by makeshift graves portraying the despair of a city in turmoil was interrupted by children running through the museum, screaming and yelling. It was shocking to see some children who appeared to have no interest in the horrific events that occurred in the history of their country. I couldn’t help but think that more reverence should be given to the heartbreaking events and the people that were involved. But then I realized that many children the world over have difficulty appreciating historical events, especially in the setting of a museum.
I highly suggest a visit to this museum. With my routine down, the museum gave me a day to realize that I am not just living in a different city, I am living in a whole different part of history. I appreciate this city and the culture so much more after my visit to this museum.
Regan Bortz is a Senior at Penn State University studying Security Risk Analysis with a minor in Psychology. She is studying Security and Society in Warsaw, Poland. She also holds two internships while abroad: at the European Academy of Diplomacy and the Kosciuszko Institute. She hopes to take her personal experiences abroad and apply them to her knowledge of security and the human behavior. Regan hopes that international experience will help her receive offers in careers in international offices.