04 Aug, 2020

"Little Belvedere" to "Little Favela"

After the tragedy of the Second World War, everything in Europe changed. The homeless Warsaw citizens, seeking shelter in the ruins of a Warsaw destroyed after the Warsaw Uprising, occupied Little Belvedere.

In 1946 the house was bought from Henryk Strasburger by my mother, Romana Czajka. My mother was born into a wealthy bourgeois family in Warsaw, who made a living from a bakery and pastries. My parents survived the period of the Nazi occupation in Warsaw and then suffered the disaster of expulsion from Warsaw by the Nazis after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. They returned after the liberation to their capital city, all in ruins then. They wanted to rebuild their beloved city, they wanted to live in that house, but a newly formed Polish socialist state deprived them of the ownership title. "Little Belvedere" was nationalised and divided into ‘small flats’ for poor tenants.

In the old palace, flooring, stoves and tiled kitchens were installed, marble window sills were stolen, stucco was hacked off the walls, the layout of the rooms changed without plan or forethought. Socialist municipal administrations conjured a house of less than 200 m2 of living space into six units of various sizes and density of residents. For example, there were seven people living in a room on the ground floor, in an area of just 20 m2! Due to the inhabitants, who were often drunk, the former "Little Belvedere" name was converted into the "Little Favela".


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