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Report - St. Mary's Assumption's Church Tower - Lodz - Poland - August 2013

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by bhg, Sep 14, 2013.

  1. bhg

    bhg In Search of Lost Time
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    Visited with Gaj.

    St. Mary's Assumption's Church Tower​
    :

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    Reading the sad history of this beautiful neo-gothic church, which was a part of Lidzmannstadt (Lodz) ghetto during the Second World War, brought back memories of my Jewish grandma. None of my grandparents were originally from Lodz, the city I was born in. I loved listening to my grandma's wartime stories, how she escaped Warsaw ghetto with her parents, how only one of her many cousins survived Auschwitz or finally how she lost six of her seven brothers in Warsaw Uprising. It was like a little girl (she was only 12 in 1939) telling another little girl about what she's been through, but hiding the worst parts, making her wartime childhood stories look like some sort of a great adventure..

    Ghetto map: (all pics from Lodz Ghetto, Litzmannstadt Ghetto )

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    Here is St. Mary's Assumption's Church history (Lodz Ghetto, Litzmannstadt Ghetto)

    The Litzmannstadt ghetto (one of the largest in Europe) was established in Baluty and the Old Town area. It was the most impoverished part of the city. Over 200,000 people were crowded into area of 4.13 square kilometers, only 800 remained when the Russians arrived...

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    For thousands of Jews who passed through the Lodz ghetto, the red brick church and the adjacent wooden footbridge crossing over Zgierska Street are recognizable symbols.


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    The slender church towers can be seen on many photographs and pictures showing this fragment of Lodz history. Under such dramatic circumstances, the Catholic church became a part of the Jewish tragedy.
    The St. Mary's Assumption’s Church in the Old Town was built where the first Catholic church in Lodz was originally located. The construction plans were signed in 1887, and the work commenced a year later. The old wooden church, which for generations stood at the Zgierska Street site, was transferred to the old Christian cemetery on Ogrodowa Street near the gate of Izrael Poznanski's factory. The old church is still there and is dedicated to St. Joseph.
    Construction of the new church began at the square, which was already named Plac Koscielny. The neo-Gothic church was designed by architect Konstanty Wojciechowski. It was a three-nave basilica of non-plastered red brick. This kind of church architecture was common at that time because it carried a certain Polish national pride. The facade with two towers creates a stately impression.
    The church was finished in 1897. Its construction was supported by the city's industrialists and represented the unique multicultural forces that built Lodz. The Scheiblers, a Protestant family, donated 15,000 rubles; Juliusz Kunitzer, also a Protestant, gave the Catholic community 2,000 rubles. The Jewish industrialist Izrael Poznanski financed the flooring.
    And thus, the first neo-Gothic church in Lodz overlooked the Old Town, an area that curiously was mostly Jewish. During the Second World War the church became a part of the ghetto.

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    Initially, the church doors were closed. Later, the Nazis decided to turn it into a warehouse for property stolen from the Jews. From spring to autumn 1942, the clothes of the people murdered at Chelmno-nad-Nerem were brought here.

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    When transports to the death camp were suspended, a sorting plant for feathers and down was established in the church. The Jews called it "The White Factory" in reference to Ludwik Geyer's textile factory, famous in Lodz before the war. In this case, however, they did not mean the color, but the down floating in the air.


    After Gaj spotting the scaffold covering one of the church towers, we decided to come back the same night and try to climb it. I was really excited about that, cause climbing the catholic church tower is a big no no in the country like Poland :) We would have made first page of the local papers if caught there...
    We spent ages and ages sitting on the steps next to the church, waiting for the good moment to get onto the scaffold. We had to leave at some point, after noticing a very noisy local smoking on a balcony first, then watering plants and even hiding behind a curtains and watching us... And it was like 1 in the morning!
    So after some time we finally started climbing the scaffold. And I must say I found it horrific! I'm not scared of heights or anything like that, but everything literally everything was moving there. There is no such a thing like Health and Safety rules in Poland when it comes to scaffold! Crazy Poles hahaha I was swearing all way up the top...

    Here are my pics (not great - million ISO haha)

    Piotrkowska Street:

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    Koscielna Street:

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    Second Tower:

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    View from the top:

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    And the clock:

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    Enjoy! Hands up to Gaj for spotting this!
     
    #1 bhg, Sep 14, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013

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