Courtesy of Warsaw lovers’ “Kierunkowy 22” profile (https://www.facebook.com/Kierunkowy22/), and thanks to the consent of Ms. Irina Hynes and the Author himself, we are presenting so-far unpublished and unique photographs that depict the present location of the POLIN Museum’s building in the postwar period, during the construction of the new Muranów district on the rubble of the northern Jewish district.
These unique, color (!) pictures were taken by Frank Scherb, who visited Warsaw during the 4th International Symposium of the Committee for Space Research (COSPAR) on June 4-10, 1963. In his free time, he went to Muranów, where he was fascinated by the contrast between the new and the destroyed, so characteristic of Warsaw at that time. During his walks he also took a few photos of the square which is now occupied by the POLIN Museum, but at that time it featured a monumental ruin of the Volhynia Barracks.
The Volhynia Barracks, also known as the Crown Artillery Barracks, with their original address in Dzika Street (Land Registry No. 2317) and then at 19 Zamenhoffa Street, were built in 1784-1792 to a design by Stanisław Zawadzki for the needs of the Crown Artillery Regiment and the Crown Engineering Corps. During the Russian rule, it housed the First Volhynia Guard Regiment and in the interwar period it served as a military prison. During the ghetto period, the Barracks housed the Judenrat. The building survived the destruction of Warsaw as a burnt-out ruin, still suitable for reconstruction. Despite its quite acceptable state, its was pulled down in 1965.
In the postwar period there were occasional plans to locate a Jewish museum in the reconstructed Volhynia Barracks. The location of the building influenced the situation of both monuments to the ghetto heroes, in particular the 1948 monument designed by Natan Rapaport (sculpture) and Leon Suzin (architectural concept).
Interestingly, the rubble from the pulled down barracks was later used, among other purposes, to make the hill at the Museum at the Karmelicka St. side, which stands until today. The hill was higher back in the 1980s, and Muranów inhabitants called the broad green area “psisko” (big dog).