Today we bring you another detailed photo story from Warsaw Uprising ’44.
The first hours of the Warsaw Uprising. A young man in a short tunic and peaked cap tries to bring down the swastika flag hanging from PKO building on the corner of Swietokrzyska and Jasna streets (todays Post Office building).
The construction of the building, designed by Joseph Handzelewicz, started in 1914 in the place of an earlier building with the intent to complete construction in 1915, but implementation was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. It was planned to accomodate offices and apartments there. The construction of the building was completed in the years 1921-1923 with allocation for Postal Savings Bank. The structure was designed by Stefan Bryla. The building was built in the style of modern classicism. In the 30th of last century the building was expanded and extended with a new wing in the place of the palace at No. 33, designed by Zygmunt Tillinger. The PKO buildings were also planned to be expanded with even two more buildings at locations No. 35 and No. 37. Reconstruction of the PKO headquarters were under way until 1939, the link between them, however, was never built due to German invasion.
During the Warsaw Uprising the building was one of the most important buildings in the area and was cornered by insurgents on the 1st of August. From August 4th Army District Command located inside, and the week after the preparatory work insurgent radio station “Blyskawica” (“Lightning “) started its brodcasting from there.
On our photo an insurgent climbs a metal railing and tries to pull the tarp down, but it is resisting.
We do not know the author of this picture. It is however known who is on it. The man with the flag is Stanislaw Bala, alias “Giza”, regarded as one of the best insurgence cinematographers. He worked in the Department of Propaganda VI of Staff AK Headquarters. With his 16 mm camera he filmed the fightings in Wola, gaining PAST skyscraper , battles for Church of St. Cross and neighboring police station, the events at the power plant on Vistula Region and in the Warsaw University of Technology. After the uprising he ended up in a POW camp. After war’s end, he settled in France, then in England, where he finished polytechnic to finally move to the United States.
A few years ago in a interview living in California Stanislaw Bala told the rest of the scene in the picture: “When I finally teared the flag off of the PKO building, the holding stick broke off too and hit me in the head so hardly, that for a long moment I felt dazed.”