Warsaw: a city that disppeared

21 06 2008

[source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily 20. June 2008; author: Dariusz Bartoszewicz. photographer: Aleksander Prugar]

Don’t come to Warsaw! Poland’s capital doesn’t exist any more. Someone has hidden it from us – for good. Here is a unique look at a city covered with a curtain of advertisements.

Ściana Wschodnia

There was no war, that the world forgot to notice, but Warsaw is gone. Adverts ate it. While city council and residents have given up.

There is a battle in Warsaw again: for every house, for every block, for every street corner, for every look. Those attacking and fighting one another are media houses, advertisement agencies and global brands. See, buy, taste – you’ll be happy.

Should the city be reduced to an advertising pillar – and its inhabitants to consumers?

‘They are like cockroaches – you spray them, spray, and they get immune’ – that’s how David Lubars from Omnicom Group talked about consumers and advert.

That’s why it isn’t enough to put adverts to newspapers, on posters, billboards. That’s too little. Too soft. The message needs to be stronger… and best when ad moves through the streets.

That’s why we there are huge tubes of toothpaste, chocolate bars and washing powders driving around the city. Previously these were busses and trams. And you could even see the world through their windows. Now all you can see – more adverts.

Residents are having their windows covered with them. Why would you look out of the window? What could be better to look at then a mega-billboard outside your window in the morning?

There are those who try to protest… They complain they don’t get enough sunlight. The most desperate among them cut holes in huge adverts covering their windows – so that they are able to open windows and let some air in.

But what can an ordinary citizen do confronted with the ultimate argument that “adverts on our building will pay for renovation”…

Warsaw is gone. Instead of coming to Warsaw, you better dig old postcards and photo albums from your closets. Or visit Paris, Berlin. Maybe you can still see something there.

Marszałkowska

Rondo De Gaulle\'a

Marszałkowska

JPII/Solidarności

AVON

Centre

Sezam

Let\'s play

R

Toshiba





Poles find their Lebensraum in the West. Drang nach abandoned East Germany is the new trend.

16 02 2008

Authrs: Jolanta Kowalewska, Adam Zadworny, Alex Kuehl
Source: Gazeta Wyborcza
Translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview

* * *

A for pre-war 200m house with 5,500 metres square of land in a tiny German village of Hochenseldoff, several kilometres away from the Polish-German border, costed Piotr Wychadończuk 50,000 zł (nearly $25,000). ‘I can’t afford an appartment in Poland. In Szczecin metropolis this money would buy me a garage’, he says. ‘Besides, my wife and I are having twins and we need more Lebensraum’.

‘Eurosceptics from right-wing parties were threatening with the Germans coming and buying our land when we join the EU – and it’s the total opposite’, laughs Bartłomiej Sochański, a barrister from Szczecin and honorary consul of Germany. Even before the Schengen Agreement came to effect in Poland, Poles had been settling on the other side of the Oder river.

Garden fire only with Fire Department permission

‘To live in Germany you need: a letter box, a blue barrel and a current account in a German bank’, Jacek reveals basic rules of living behind the border. He’s 31, owns a two-bedroom flat in Szczecin and a stationary selling business. In spring 2007 he bought 3 hectares of German land in Radekow together with a former firefighters’ station. He’ll move in this spring with his wife, 4-year-old son and parents. A shiny letterbox is already hanging on the fence.

‘That’s the first thing you have to get’, says Jacek, ‘in order to receive official letters from institutions. ‘Thank goodness first class letters in Germany don’t need to be delivered in person, therefore I never have to go to the post office’.

– And what do you need the blue barrel for?

‘German thrift. They all use rain water for their gardens rather then a hose.

– And an account?

‘I hired an architect, and it turned out he didn’t accept cash’.

Jacek shows me around other houses purchased by the Polish. Each of them is equipped with solar power screen. Solar energy heats houses and water. Only dog houses don’t have them. And Jacek’s place. It’s a long one-storey building, which soon will be demolished to make way for Jacek’s new semi-detached.

– How will you handle the commute?

‘Oh, it’ll be easier then now. Even a taxi can drop me here after a night out in Szczecin’.

– And how do you communicate with German civil servants?

‘I don’t speak any German at all’.

– Really?

‘The lady at the Department of Housing was surprised too’.

Jacek wonders whether to register his son to a German pre-school. So far his little son practices his language skills when he meets his neighbours. It’s an elderly couple, who are pleased to have new new people in the area. They brought their home-made jam for Jacek’s family to try.

‘Friends were warning me about some German neo-fascist parties. I haven’t seen anyone like that yet’.

– What surprised you here the most?

‘That you can’t make a fire in your own garden. You need a permission from Fire Department and you need to pay somewhat 10 euro’ for that.

Roe-deer feeding classes

Joanna and Tadeusz Czapscy moved to a forrester’s cottage near Tantow, which they bought together with three hectares of land, ten roe-deer, a bat, and a pond full with crucian carp.

Their estate lies around 25km from the Szczecin city centre. In Poland Mr and Mrs Czapski lived in one of the communist blocks of flats. ‘Commute from that flat and from Tantow takes the same amount of time’, Mr Czapski explains. ‘After Schengen, I pop into my car and drive. Keine grenzen!’.

The price was right as well. 90,000 euro.

Joanna and Tadeusz’s cottage looks charming with wooden fence and hedge. Pasturage for roe-deer is visible from a distance. Deer have 2 hectars of forrest for themselves. Only during the winter they need to be fed.

‘When I saw these roe-deer I knew it’s aither this house or none for me’ recalls Joanna. ‘Previous owner told us when they eat all the nettle, it’s the time to start feeding.

What surprised them the most, was the fact that if they wanted to keep the roe-deer they had to complete a course on how to take care of wild animals.

Joanna walks around the house repeating: “bread – brot”, “buns – brotchen”, “butter – butter”. – We’ll be doing the shopping on the Polish side, as it’s still cheaper. But when we run out of something I have to know the basic words – she says.

A neighbour is busy with something behind the fence. A German man in his thirties.

‘When my lawn-mower broke down, be was here to lend me his within seconds. That’s how we met. He’s a really nic chap’.

We have level pavements

‘This house was four times cheaper, then a similar house in a Polish village. Only the pavement here is level, there is street light, and it’s generally safe’, explains Bartek Wójcik.

House bult in 1865 roku is around 200 metre sq. on a 1000 metre sq patch. 23,000 Euro. For Poles a real Bargain!

Bartek and his wife Danka are running “OFFicyna” association in Szczecin, which is renowned organiser for cultural events like Szczecin film festivals. Last year they decided to get on the property ladder. They tried to buy a flat in Szczecin, or a house in the country. Too expensive. They decided to choose Germany.

Their haouse stands on a hill, the driveway covered with cobblestone. Spruce and thuja trees grow on sides. Red barn with massive door stands graciously in the middle.They’re discovering the rules of life in the village of Schwennentz. What surprised them the most was German’s thrift. For instance in autumn the whole village prepares one joint order for heating oil. Because it’s cheaper that way.

‘Before Schengen it took us 20 minutes to commute to work in Szczecin, and since Schengen it feels as if we lived in one of the city districts’.

Little towns becoming Polish

‘Poles usually seek houses between 100 and 200 metre sq., not further than 30 kilometres from the border’, says Mariola Dadun, who together with her German husband run a real estate agency serving both sides of the border.

It is estimated that around 2000 Polish families purchased houses in Meklemburg and Brandenburg recently.

Penkun, Gartz and Loecknitz are the towns with largest Polish population – around 200 live in the latter. A Polish-German middle school has been open in Loecknitz for several years. One third of students, around 160, are Poles. A businessman from Szczecin launches a new Petrol station in Loecknitz. Polish company builds a new residential development. One of towns hotel is town-house converted by a Polish couple. Hair-dos in Locknitz are also Polish-made. A Polish businesswoman opened there a hair salon.

It is amazing how the West European borders, previously both so desired and hated, are simply disappearing. Just like that.

* * *


If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 





The BIG question people are asking this week: What’s with those Russian threats again?

5 02 2008

This is the first episode of our new, lighter, column ‘The BIG question people are asking this week’, in which we will not exactly translate the news like we do, but analyse and/or synthesise and/or explain and/or (most likely) comment the things people in Poland are getting excited about in the media, and generally.

The big question people are asking this week is

What’s with those Russian threats again?

Russia’s representative to NATO Dmitriy Rogozin warned Poland this week, saying he ‘would like to remind his Polish colleagues of their recent history, which proves that positioning Poland on the confrontation line have always brought tragedy to them’ and he continued saying ‘that’s how Poland lost one third of her population during the Second World War.’

That’s not exactly the kind of language you would expect from a diplomat, is it? But that’s Russia for you. Is this a suggestion they would attack Poland like they did on 17th September 1939 collaborating with Hitler?

Two days later the chairman of foreign affairs committee at the Russian Duma Konstantin Kosachov was kind enough to make such a statement, ‘certain American installations will be becoming an object of control, and, at worst, targets’.

Of course what they both are talking about is the anti-missile shield scheme, elements of which are planned to be installed in Poland, and which is thought to be able to shoot missiles down when they’re still in the air, and prevent them hitting America, and – maybe (this is not clear yet) – some other places as well.

Why would Russia oppose a DEFENSIVE system, anyone? Any ideas? Not to protect their own citizens, as this has always been the least worry there…

Frankly they’re not doing themselves a favour here – if they really don’t want the American anti-missile shield elements installed in Poland. Most people, including me, were not in favour of this anti-missile project. But hearing such threats from time to times makes me, and many other people, twice more cautious about Russia and twice more eager to tighten cooperation with Western allies, in case Russian enlightened leadership actually decided attack us militarily. Will Russia ever change? Will Russia ever become a normal, democratic, friendly country governed by the rule of law?


If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.





Braveheart vs ruthless system 0:1. Scottish teacher gives up on teaching in a Polish school.

1 02 2008

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza, 1. Feb. 2008
Authors: Małgorzata Kozerawska, Marcin Markowski
Translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview

* * *

Iain comes from Scotland. He’s 34. Loose-fitting sweater and jeans. He switches to first-name terms immediately. He’s been living in Poland for the last four years, teaching English in private schools in Łódź. He’s a native speaker of English, wanting to teach in a state-run secondary school as well. He found work at the reputable IV Liceum Ogólnokształcące where he taught to an elitist International Baccalaureate class. He lasted a week.

Iain tells his story

My first day at work, Monday. I had to wait 15 minutes to get to the staff room. I didn’t have a key, and there was no one to ask for it. Then it turned out photocopying paper ran out. I was told students have to pay for the paper.
Day two, Wednesday. I telephoned one of my students, as I didn’t know where’s my class going to be. The person responsible for contacting me was on a sick leave. Room 12 I was told. Teachers tell me there is no room 12. I telephone my student again. Turns out room twelve belongs to another school. And there was no blackboard.
Day three, Friday. I went to the headteacher to find out where’s my class going to be. She decided it’s going to be the computer room. There was a blackboard this time, but no tables.
Day four, another Monday. I came to the school earlier to prepare for classes and photocopy some material. There was no one at the reception, where they key to the staff room was. I opened the geography room at 8 and waited for students. No one was coming. After 15 minutes I was going to grab a cup of coffee, when my student rang. He was asking if I’m coming to classes, as everyone was waiting in the computer room. I was thinking: why is the lesson to take place in an inappropriate class, when a better class is free?

After classes I went to see a doctor for an obligatory medical check-up. I had to go private and pay, although the school has its (free) doctor. I wasn’t able to use his services, because I had to be at my other job when he receives patients. At the surgery I was told the school should have given me a standard form. No one told me about this at the school. I went back. Secretary said, sarcastically, that she’ll take care of me because apparently as a foreign teacher I was more important than other teachers.

Secretary sent me to accountant, who gave me several forms and asked not to get upset as “this is how things are in a state-run school in Poland”. Same with class registers. I’ve seen other teachers using them, I didn’t get to. Plus there weren’t many teaching aids.

Iain wrote about all this in a letter to the headteacher. He said goodbye to the students and left this job. ‘I would like to donate my wages to the the school, as it’s obvious the school needs it more than me’, he wrote.

The Headteacher

Katarzyna Felde, headteacher at the school where Iain worked. Energetic, practical mathematician, ‘I was seeking an Eglish teacher for the IB class, because the former teacher relocated to Britain. Students have found Iain. He had a friendly attitude. He asked to show him around the school. He wanted to know where his class was, where was the smoking room, where are keys being picked up from. I never had this before.
He got a huge geography room, in which he moved all tables to the middle. It wouldn’t make sense to move furniture there and back all the time, so I moved his classes to room 12. It belongs to the afternoon school. Yes, there was no blackboard. So I moved his class to computer room. And there was problem again. Everyone there sits facing the wall, turned back at the teacher. But Iain didn’t come to me to say he had a problem with something. How was I to know?
The staff room door has an automatic lock. Keys are to be picked at reception. Iain knew about this. I couldn’t have predicted he’d come to school at 7.15 am. There was no one at the reception yet. And none of the teachers. They don’t come an hour before lessons. They prepare to classes at home. At 7, there’s only the caretaker in the building.
Unfortunately students pay for photocopying. We don’t have money for that. As for the medical examinations: we have a contract with a specific doctor, and we directed Iain to him. I have no control over his opening hours. And we’re lacking teaching aids for all teachers. You have to organize it on your own. I told him. You need something – we’ll buy. But not now. We’re getting the money from the city council, and it has to be in their budget.

So what will happen with the class now? Headteacher: I’ll look for another teacher, probably not a native speaker this time. I got discouraged. After all it’s a different culture, it’s hard to fit to one another. A Polish teacher doesn’t need to be guided step by step and introduced to everything. And won’t go on complaining like a child.
Iain came from a country where everything is ready and prepared. He was, in fact, treated better then Polish teachers. Some of them have been upset with this. Yesterday one of the parents rang me asking what will I do to get him back. That’s over the board. I bear no grudge against him, but I’m not going to look for him, or say sorry, either. I have nothing to say sorry for. He’s worked eight hours in our school earning 160zł, which will be paid to him

* * *


If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 





Thanking for participation in Afghanistan mission Bush omits Poland

20 12 2007

Source: Onet.pl & PAP Polish Press Agency; 20 Dec 2007
Translation from Polish: MoPoPressReview

* * *

On a press conference the American President George W. Bush said, he’s not satisfied with the political progress in Iraq. He also thanked the allied countries for their participation in Afghanistan mission, expressing his fears over their possible withdrawal from this country.

Mr Bush expressed his concern for some allied countries’ intention to withdraw from this country before the situation in Afghanistan stabilises. – ‘I’m most concerned that some people say <<We’re tiered with Afghanistan, we’re thinking about backing out>> – he said.

‘My aim is to help the allies in finding a task they will be able to realise, and to convince them that we need time before the experience of democracy in Afghanistan works‘ – declared Mr Bush thanking the British, the Canadian, the Danish, the Australian and “other allies” for their effort.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 





Gay pensioners not welcome in town (on posters)

19 12 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily (19 Dec 2007)
Authors: Emilia Iwanciw, Aleksandra Lewińska
Translation: MoPoPressReview
link to the original article

* * *

Posters containg confessions like ‘I’m a pensioner, I’m gay’, ‘I’m a pharmacist, I’m lesbian’ will not be hung in the city of Bydgoszcz. The company managing the advertising pillars did not agree. Therefore Bydgoszcz will not be taking part in the nationwide campaign, aiming to raise the gay people’s self-esteem.

The action called ‘You are not alone’ is an initiative of the Toruń branch of the Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH) Association. 500 posters were placed in Toruń on Monday, previously similar posters appeared in Tricity. The characters featured in the posers admit to having different sexual orientations. Although it is not possible to recognise them, each is signed with a name, we’re told what they do for living, and in which city district they live. –‘Our message is aimed to reach both homosexual and heterosexual people’, says Agnieszka Szpak, KPH coordinator. – ‘The former we want to make aware of the fact they are not alone, and the latter that just next to them live people who although seem different, are very similar.’

We showed the posters to several people passing-by the Gdańska street in Bydgoszcz yesterday afternoon. They didn’t seem outrageous to most people we met. 23-ear-old Karol was surprised: – ‘I didn’t know there are so many gay people in Bydgoszcz.’

75-year-old Zofia was upset at first: – ‘A gay pensioner? When someone is a pensioner does he have to be gay?’ letnia pani Zofia początkowo się obruszyła: – When we explained her what is this action for, her attitude softened: – ‘These posters make no harm to anyone. People are born like that.’

The agency managing the advertising pillars thought the opposite. The action that will run nationwide, was supposed to begin in Bydgoszcz yesteday as well. I didn’t because the ReMedia company denied the advertising space. – At the agency at first I heard that our posters could offend the dignity of onlookers. Then in their official e-mail I read about a “possible disapproval of the passers-by” – says Szpak.

Remedia’s employee admits she didn’t agree to cooperate with the association – ‘The subject of the posters is cntroversial. Although it doesn’t offend my dignity, people are different’ – she says, asking for her name not to be published. – ‘I was worried that the City Council (which owns the pillars) might not like these posters. And if so, we could have been fined.’

‘An action like this doesn’t offend anyone’ – says Maciej Grześkowiak, deputy mayor of Bydgoszcz, responsible for the city’s image. – But since it inflicts controversies, I’ll order the content of the posters to be analysed. I would also like ReMedia t o have a meeting with the Public Roads Department and settle what to do in such instances in the future.’

Is there a chance to still have the Campaign Against Homophobia in Bydgoszcz? – I ask the ReMedia co-owner.
‘Since there is so much fuss about this, the association can come and hang their posters even today’ – answers Magdalena Florek.

KPH coordinator: – This year we won’t make t to print more posters, but we’ll decide on what we’ll do in the next days. If all of us agree, we might launch this action in Bydgoszcz in January.

COMMENT
Michał Cichoracki, a sociologist for Gazeta Wyborcza- The company which denied posters to be hung, has auto-censored themselves. Probably due to fear from the different. It’s because for many years this subject was being swept under the carpet. Luckily the younger generation homosexuality doesn’t inflict negative emotions. Young people are not affraid of the different. However as long as we’re still discussing this, it means the problem of homophobia still exists in our society.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 





Poland’s new government to back out from Iraq sooner than expected paper reveals today

15 12 2007

Author: Izabela Leszczyńska
Source: Dziennik daily
Translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview

* * *

The government wants, as Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk pledged in his Parliament speech, to have Polish soldiers withdrawn from Iraq by October 2008. However there are signs that the pledge might be implemented sooner.

Poland was to send two more military contingents to Iraq, however as we found out yesterday, this figure will be reduced to just one. Even though the government has presented the president with a motion to extend the Iraq mission to November 31st 2008.

‘September and November as only for contingency arrangements should the withdrawal prolong’ – explains Vice-Admiral Tomasz Mathea, deputy Chief of Staff.

Major Dariusz Kacperczyk, from the Operations Headquaters, adds that between March and April Iraqi 8th division will overtake the responsibility for the zone controlled by the Polish military.

Preparations for the come back are already in full swing. Our base in Divaniya is in the process of stock-taking of the equipement gathered in Iraq through the last five years. The ninth contingent is checking everything: the number of cars, helicopters, containers. The Support Inspectorate, which has alredy prepared the plan of withdrawal, determined 100 tons of equipment will need to be transported. Two ships will be needed for this purpose.How does the government justify its decision? ‘The British are reducing their mission to 2.5 thousand soldiers, AMericans plan to reduce theirs from 160 thousand to 132 thousand, Australia also plans reductions. Why would we still have our soldiers in Iraq, since 74% of Poles want them out?’ – asks Bogdan Klich, Defence Minister.

The Iraqi are alarmed. Iraq’s Ambassador in Warsaw Walid H. Shiltagh announced that the government in Baghdad is going to request for the mission to be extended. ‘The Iraqi government considers this a last request for extending the mission of the multinational force’ -says the ambassador. The diplomat already talked about this with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he is soon going to meet with the Ministry of Defence.

President Lech Kaczyński is also against the withdrawal. ‘If president does not support this motion, he risks that the mission will terminate abruptly with the end of 2007, as the current mandate is in force until then’ – replies Bogdan Klich.

The President’s Office hasn’t yet issued a statement. ‘It’s too early’ – We heard at the president’s press bureau.

* * *


If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.