Architecture

Evocative museum masterpiece honors Polish WWII victims

Evocative museum masterpiece h...
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów commemorates the rural Polish communities that suffered terrible atrocities during German occupation
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów commemorates the rural Polish communities that suffered terrible atrocities during German occupation
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów commemorates the rural Polish communities that suffered terrible atrocities during German occupation
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów commemorates the rural Polish communities that suffered terrible atrocities during German occupation
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów consists of 11 concrete house-like areas
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów consists of 11 concrete house-like areas
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów was designed by Nizio Design International
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów was designed by Nizio Design International
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów takes the form of deconstructed village homes made from concrete
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów takes the form of deconstructed village homes made from concrete
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów is located in southern Poland and has been in the works since 2009
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów is located in southern Poland and has been in the works since 2009
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów is surrounded by larch crosses
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów is surrounded by larch crosses
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów's concrete exterior is designed to weather over time
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów's concrete exterior is designed to weather over time
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów is spread over 16,000 sq m roughly 172,000 sq ft)
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów is spread over 16,000 sq m roughly 172,000 sq ft)
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów's interior exhibition space was created by Nizio Design International
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The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów's interior exhibition space was created by Nizio Design International
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Commissioned to commemorate the atrocities suffered by occupants of rural villages in Poland during Nazi occupation, Nizio Design International had to walk the tightrope of showing due respect and producing a head-turning design. The firm has risen to the occasion with its superb Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów.

As its name suggests, the project is located in Michniów, which is in southern Poland. It was declared the winner of an architecture competition held back in 2009 and was originally due to open in 2016, but has taken until now to realize due to unforeseen circumstances.

The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów takes the form of deconstructed village homes made from concrete
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów takes the form of deconstructed village homes made from concrete

The museum is spread over 16,000 sq m (roughly 172,000 sq ft) and takes the form of 11 connected house-like concrete segments, which range from fully-formed to skeletal framework. This is meant to depict the destruction of Michniów's homes and people.

Visitors enter into the "House of Tranquility" which is fully formed and then pass through multiple exhibition spaces as the building reflects decay and damage, until the spaces are open to the elements at the end.

In addition to designing the building's overall form, Nizio Design International handled the permanent exhibition inside. The firm has installed a series of photos, historical documents and videos depicting the atrocities. There are also charred ruins on display, including wood and steel sourced locally.

The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów's interior exhibition space was created by Nizio Design International
The Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów's interior exhibition space was created by Nizio Design International

"Entering the premises, the visitor first enters five closed segments," explains Nizio Design International. "The sculptural, degraded part is open to nature, sky and landscape, changing – sometimes abruptly – as the weather conditions change. Through the glazing and the rips in the structure one can see the larch crosses surrounding the building. Their shape and symbolism inspired the form of the rips. The expressive architecture and intentional, progressive degradation of the solid create a unique atmosphere of the place. The light reaches the interior of the building through the cracks between the segments; depending on the time of the day and the season, it models the area of the permanent exhibition, located in the closed and open parts of the building."

The project officially opened on July 12th, which was the 78th anniversary of the pacification of Michniów – and is also recognized as the Day of Struggle and Martyrdom of Polish Villages.

Source: Nizio Design International

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5 comments
5 comments
CraigAllenCorson
Only crosses? About three million Polish Jews were killed during the war, roughly the same as the number of Christians, yet I didn't see a single Star of David in the photos of this mausoleum. That seems like a major omission to me.
Johannes
An intensely evocative and starkly confronting design. Interesting how the level of destruction implied by the angular walls and openness of the structure intensifies as one moves through the exhibits and away from the entrance. A credit to the architect and also to the people who have persisted in seeing this work through to construction.
Jan Kowalski
To CraigAllenCorson. Only Poles were the victims in Michniów - adding others to them is far from true and pointless. Michnów is to commemorate Polish victims of German crimes - they deserve for it like any other nation. There are many other places of commemoration of victims of Jewish origin.
a.l.
A hundred crosses, not one Star of David. Apparently only Christians and, more particularly, Roman Catholics, need apply for the position of martyr.

While it may be true that this particular village may have few, or, perhaps no, Jewish residents, and that none died during the Nazis’ liquidation of it, the Polish government would never have erected such a monument if it were not intended to represent the assaults on and sacrifices against every corner of Poland during World War II. As such, one cannot characterize this as being anything other than a deliberate omission of the thee million Jewish Poles slaughtered by the Nazis — Jews who were always the Nazis first and most desired targets of their campaign of genocide.

Once more ethnic Poles have made the irrefutable case that their nation is defined by its own anti-Semitism, that it uses that anti-Semitism as a societal glue no less than did the Nazis. The only difference between the two regimes is the amount of resources at their disposal for carrying out their own versions of a Final Solution.
Matty E.
This - a masterpiece? Is that a joke? No way. It's a gigantic hideous brutalist train wreck of dead concrete. Imagine how depressing and stultifying it would be to drive past this every day on your way into work or the grocery store. It's disgusting. There is nothing here that uplifts the human spirit above or beyond the suffering it supposedly honors. Whoever approved this heartless monstrosity should be ashamed of themselves. Plus, as others noted, zero 6-pointed stars. So - a spiritual imbalance to complement the aggressive visual insult, I suppose.