Every November 1st called the Day of All Saints (Wszystkich Swietych) in all cemeteries in Poland, people remember their missing loving ones. They decorate the graves with flowers, and light candles… In the most popular cemetery, recognize as the most important in Poland “Powązki cemetery”, thousands of candles are lighted, creating an impressive atmosphere. When you experience that for the first time, you are struck by the beauty of the celebration, but also the smell of the wax all over the place.
Two years ago, I went to the Powązki cemetery and the Powązki Military cemetery “Cmentarz Wojskowy na Powązkach”.
The first one was created in 1790, and is the burial place for more than one million people, including many illustrious figures including presidents, prime ministers, musicians, resistance fighters… Among them, the Chopin Family, the world-known resistant Jan Nowak Kowalski, the famous classical composer Stanisław Moniuszko, the famous resistant Irena Sendler (a movie is under preparation to be performed and directed by the “Wonder Woman” Actress, Gal Gadot), and many more…
In the second one, the Military cemetery is the resting place for many of those who have fought and died for Poland since the early 19th century. From the Battle of Warsaw in the 1920′, the September 1939 campaign, the majority of the deaths occurred during Warsaw’s uprising against nazi Germany, most of them were exhumed from the rubble of the city from 1945 to 1953. In addition, there are also mass graves where prisoners have been executed during the Communist era. From August 2015, scientists are allowed to exhume corpses from mass graves to find out the identity of those people.
Among the graves, you can find Władysław Szpilman 5 December 1911 – 6 July 2000 (the famous Pianist)
Bolesław Bierut 18 April 1892 – 12 March 1956 (11th President of Poland 5 February 1947 – 21 November 1952)
Jacek Kuroń 3 March 1934 – 17 June 2004 (Democratic leaders of opposition in the People’s Republic of Poland, Co-founder of the Workers’ Defence Committee or KOR (future Solidarność). He ran for president, encouraged by Jan Karski’s support, he served twice as Minister of Labour and Social Policy).
Ryszard Kukliński (Jack Strong – spy name) June 13, 1930 – February 11, 2004 (Polish colonel and Cold War spy for NATO. Posthumously promoted to the rank of brigadier general by Polish President Andrzej Duda. Kukliński smuggled top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA between 1972 and 1981. Without his assistance, Europe and the world might be completely different, as the documents provided to the CIA contained strategic plans involving tactical nuclear attacks in Europe… On May 23, 1984, Kukliński was sentenced to death. The end of the death sentence was a prerogative of European Union entry… In 1997, on his request, the Court of Justice revoked his sentence, which had been previously commuted to 25 years of imprisonment (1990)… one year later Kukliński comes back to Poland for the first time.).
Władysław Gomułka 6 February 1905 – 1 September 1982 (First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party – 21 October 1956 – 20 December 1970)
and many more…
An application called ‘Stare Powązki‘ is available on the Apple Store to have more information about the famous defunct tombs of the cemetery.