A Visit to Powazki Cemetery
Polish Independence Day, celebrated on Nov. 11, is a time of reflection for many Poles â€” a day to recall Polandâ€™s resurrection after centuries of perennial partitions, but also a time to remember the blood shed and pay respect to the dead.
No place tells the story of Polandâ€™s journey from a subjugated nation teetering on the edge, to a stable, confident European power better than Powazki Military Cemetery in Warsaw â€” Polandâ€™s Valley of the Kings.
It celebrates the countryâ€™s war heroes, but also surrounds them with the higgledy piggledy graves of the great and the good: poets and doctors, dissidents and Communist dictators, Jews and anti-Semites, as well as Stalinâ€™s henchmen and Solidarity stars.
Where a country buries its dead is a bellwether of political life and social fabric. The Powazki cemetery, in particular, has succeeded in keeping the collective national memory intact â€” pinpointing the paradoxes of Polish society and illustrating the interplay of elites, in life and in death.