Museum of Independence - Warsaw
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Museum of Independence is Best For
Directions to Museum of Independence
Polish history - with its multiethnic, multi-cultural Commonwealth, its early medieval laws protecting freedom of religious expression, its elected kings, its tradition of 'Golden Liberty' and its forward-thinking 1791 constitution - teaches us that the Polish people value independence very highly. It also teaches us, through some 170 years of foreign occupation under five different regimes, six major uprisings, hundreds of visionary heroes and millions of victims, that this independence has never been won lightly. The Museum of Independence plays a special role in upholding the memory of these people and events that shaped the independent Poland of today, reminding modern generations of the value of the liberty they enjoy.
The museum's exhibitions explore the lives of freedom fighters, the fate of the Poles as an occupied people, the preservation of Polish culture and identity during periods of repression, and steps on the road to regaining freedom. It covers the period from the Kosciuszko Uprising of 1794 to modern times. The collections include works of art, military paraphernalia, medals, photographs, and a wide range of commemorative items. While many institutions in Warsaw give an in-depth look at wartime resistance and the German occupation, and several historic sites will give you a taste of Polish life under the 19th-century Russian Partition, this is perhaps the only one with a strong focus on the resistance movements that led to the fall of communism in Poland in the 1980s.
The three permanent exhibitions at the museum are 'Polonia Restituta', covering the period from 1914 to 1921 when Poland regained independence; a historical look at the national emblem of the white eagle; and a history of opposition in the Polish People's Republic from 1945 to 1989. The Museum of Independence also has a strong educational side, with lessons, competitions, film viewings, theatrical performances and readings.
The Museum of Independence has two main subsidiaries - the Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom, located near Lazienki Park, and the Museum of Pawiak Prison, near the Krasinski Gardens. The Mausoleum is in the left wing of the Ministry of Education, which was used as the Security Police and Secret Service headquarters during the German occupation. It was used for detention and torture of political suspects, as well as mass executions during the Warsaw Uprising. Today you can view collective cells, isolation chambers and the Gestapo office. You can also trace the reflections and messages of the prisoners carved into the prison walls.
Pawiak Prison was also a site of incarceration, torture and execution during the Second World War. The death toll reached about 37,000, while a further 60,000 of those held here were sent on to labour camps.
Also attached to the Museum of Independence is Pavilion X of the Warsaw Citadel. The citadel, which stands over the riverbank north of the New Town, was built by the order of Tsar Nicholas I with the aim of exerting a tighter control over the city. Its 'X Pavilion' also became a prison for political prisoners and an execution site for nationalists and revolutionaries. From these prison cells, hundreds were taken out and executed, thousands were sent away to do hard labour in Russian camps. Among its famous prisoners was Józef Pilsudski, future head of state of the newly liberated Poland.
Tuesday - Friday 10.00 - 17.00
Saturday - Sunday 10.00 - 16.00