Seventy years ago saw the end of World War II and the rebirth of a German city, Breslau, as a Polish city, Wrocław.
For a minimalist explanation, during WWII, Poland existed on paper while Hitler took the west and Stalin took the east. Fortress Breslau was the last of Nazi Germany’s defenses to fall, on 6 May 1945. Three days later, the first Polish government session was held in Mayor Bolesław Drobner‘s residence at Blücherstrasse 27, now ul. Księcia Józefa Poniatowskiego.
At the time, the once beautiful city, “a jewel,” lay in ruins from the 80-day siege and the streets were not navigable except on foot. For an account of how Breslau became Wrocław, not just as a physical city but as a Polish city, I recommend Gregor Thum’s book, Uprooted.
There is much to the history of Wrocław, which has deep roots in Poland (ca. 990), and Wrocław is once again a beautiful city, with buildings surviving the Siege standing next to restored buildings standing next to Communist-era buildings standing next to the modern. Poniatowskiego 27, in which the city’s Polish government began, doesn’t reflect the significance of its role in the rebirth of Beslau as Wrocław; It isn’t one of the grander structures still extant, but I felt a shiver of excitement standing before its doors, imagining the immense task those in charge faced–of transforming a devastated German city into a city for Poles to call home again.
Several old photographs of Tenement No. 27 can be seen at dolny.slask.org.pl
Another book recommendation: Hitler’s Final Fortress-Breslau 1945 by Richard Hargreaves
[Photos taken 2 July 2015.]