The plan of the occupant was simple: Kraków was to become a German city. As the capital of the General Government, it could not “offend“ the Germans with such clear symbols of Polish culture: monuments commemorating great historical events and the heroes related with them.
Although Kraków does not appear on the map of the cities where Adam Mickiewicz stayed, it is precisely here, at the most central point, that the poet’s monument was erected. Today, its presence seems obvious, but its creation was accompanied by heated discussions and disputes. The idea itself was born 14 years after the poet’s death...
The plaster sculpture representing Tadeusz Kościuszko is a fragment of the model of the monument erected in Washington in 1910. Spacious, small-size models of monumental sculptures were demonstrative objects for a commissioner or for competitions. They were made of plaster—brittle, non-durable material — and, therefore, many of them did not survive.
Despite the fact that in the picture from 17 September 1989, the seven-ton bronze-cast monument of Lenin stands solidly on the ground, less than three months later (10 December1989) it had disappeared from the landscape of Kraków’s Nowa Huta. Aleja Róż [Rose Avenue], with its monumental architecture, had been the decoration for the statue for 16 years (the monument was erected in 1973)...
Under the state of martial law, Nowa Huta was the largest bastion of the independent, self-governing Labour Union “Solidarity”, that was operating underground at the time. Huge demonstrations took place here, often turning into dramatic clashes with the authorities. With the passing of time, however, the activity of the underground began to diminish, and it eventually restricted its actions to publishing underground newspapers and self-help. The situation didn't change before the late 1980s, when a new generation of activists came to the fore. Its core were the young workers and students most often belonging to such organizations as the Confederation of Independent Poland, Fighting Solidarity, the Freedom and Peace Movement, and the Federation of Fighting Youth.
Three inconspicuously-looking fragments of the bronze sculpture: the head of an old man and the fragment of a hand and an arm are the elements of one of the most important 19th century monuments in Kraków — the monument commemorating the national bard, Adam Mickiewicz. The monument, erected in 1898 by the sculptor Teodor Rygier, was demolished by the German occupant in 1940 as a symbol of Polish statehood.
The head of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas (45 x 35 cm) — the head of a middle-aged man with a short neck, slightly bent down, long hair combed backwards. Around the neck a wide strap with threaded screws.
A statue of Frederick Augustus II, the Elector of Saxony, and King of Poland, Augustus III, on horseback. It is an example of cabinet sculpture. Similar portrayals of Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte and Marcus Aurelius, often made in bronze, were popular in the 2nd half of the century.
Monuments are the traces of memory, they remind us and bring back important figures and events, and constitute elements shaping the identity. In the collection from Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, there are projects which have never been realised, the non-existing monuments the cult of which was verified by the changing times (the demolished monument of Lenin in Nowa Huta...
17 August 1940: “After Grunwald and Kościuszko, it was Mickiewicz’s turn. Vandals furiously attacked the monument of the bard standing in the Main Market Square. In broad daylight at noon tools and lifts were brought in and all the figures were thrown off the pedestal — as if with some hidden passion or provocation“.
The photograph presents an important historical moment in the history of the main market square in Kraków, because it probably shows the reinstallation of the statue of Adam Mickiewicz in the Main Square on 26 November 1955.
Leon Wyczółkowski completed a decorative panneau on Knight among Flowers, depicting a Hussar sitting on horseback and blowing the horn against the background of a flowery meadow. This work was exhibited in the Warsaw Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts [Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych] in 1907. The sculpted Hussar from the Jan Matejko House is identical to its original painted on a panneau.
The monument to Mickiewicz which was unveiled in Kraków in 1889 was not the only honour given to the poet after his death. Over the 34 years that passed since the 26th of November 1855 (the date of his death), the poet’s body and his person, reproduced in depictions and photographs, was idealised. With time, it became less and less similar to the original. It entered the sphere of myth and interpretation.