I live in London, but if I was to chose one, close to my heart, place it would be Warsaw. I spent my university years then, but back then, I considered it to be a dull, grey city with cold winters and sad people rushing around. It’s only now, that I’m an occasional visitor in the city , I’ve really started to”get it ” .

It first started when, several years ago, I had to climb to the roof of one of the highest buildings in the city, in order to check on some technical issues related to a TV signal transmission, (don’t even ask…..). So here I was, slowly treading in my killer heels around the roof on the 42nd floor of the building – trying to convince my vertigo that it didn’t exist. I carefully examined the view in front of me. To my surprise, I saw colourful building façades of the old town, next to completely new skyscrapers popping up around the city centre. I saw streets lined with long rows in different shades of green, and huge park spaces covered in colourful patches of, what might have been, rose and lilac bushes.

I mentioned to my companions how different everything looked from what I’d remembered. Suddenly there was a piercing sound of sirens in the air. The sound was really haunting. I realised it was the 1st of August, the anniversary of the Warsaw uprising. One of my companions looked at me and commented – ‘it’s Warsaw, we’ll always get through the worst to the other side ‘.

And he was right – Warsaw is one of the most resilient cities that has ever existed. No matter what happens, it always manages to come back from the dead. The 1944’s Warsaw uprising, which was the city’s attempt to get rid of the German occupation, saw 200,000 people killed and over 80% of the city turned into dust. People were travelling through the sewers in order to get out of the city. Whoever survived was taken away to the concentration camps.

Warsaw in 1944

10 years later, Warsaw raised itself from the ashes, enthusiastically helped by the whole country.  Italian paintings from the 18th century were used as a blueprint. (All other blueprints burnt with the city).  People would sacrifice their holidays in order to help shovelling the dirt and carrying mortar and bricks. My grandparent were there, so were my parents – too small to actually remember anything. (My dad and his parents stopped on their way from a POW camp in Lithuania). If you saw the movie, The Pianist – you can get a general idea what the city looked like after the uprising.

Warsaw survived through the destruction and through the grimmest days of communism. It has emerge as beautiful and sophisticated European capital. It’s only now I’ve started appreciating its resistance and its strength. Years go by, but the city stands the same, showing a finger to whoever tries to bring its spirit down – how can you resist something like this? Warsaw really kicks the ass!

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Kasha, 33 in London

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