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Communal living in Poland


Zooey 4 | 8
29 May 2013  #1
In 1992, I visited Russia in order to visit my aunt. She is from Minsk, Belarus, and her father was a Belorussian nationalist (surprise, surprise, they exist!). She lived in a Kommunalka in St. Petersburg, a communal flat that houses six or seven families, all sharing one kitchen and toilet. And she still lives there, although most tenants own their own rooms, and the older Kommualkas are being demolished to make room for single-room apartments with modern amenities.

Since I have never visited Poland, I was wondering if Warsaw still has Kommunalkas from the Communist years. If so, what are they like inside? Are they as cramped and dimly-lit as the Kommunalkas in St. Petersburg? My aunt's Kommunalka flat was once a hotel for the prosperous, aristocrats. The building, I think, still has chandeliers and door cravings from the late 19th, early 20th century. The revolution in 1917 forced the aristocrats to give up their luxury flats in order to house the "proles" streaming into the city in search of work and food. There are indications on the ceiling of where a wall divided two families. The bathrooms are small, too.
jon357 63 | 14,122
29 May 2013  #2
Kommunalkas from the Communist years.

Many have been subdivided, not always well. Some have grand rooms in what was once a wealthy person's apartment, but a bathroom carved out of a piece of corridor. They are often rented from the city and lived in by people who can't afford to rent elsewhere. Those who can afford it (if they have the right to do so) have bought and improved them.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
29 May 2013  #3
Kommunalka

a communal flat that houses six or seven families

No such things in Poland except shortly after WW2 in most ruined areas... Often large flats were divided into 2 or 3 smaller but still, they were separated flats (sometimes sharing bathroom/toilet and common hall) each with own doors, address etc. I think those Soviet era flats were more a matter of social engineering than real housing needs.
Zibi - | 336
30 May 2013  #4
In Russian big cities after 1917 it was a common thing and it persisted until 1980'ies even if it was tapering off on account of new housing that was built. In Poland however this was not a norm. No surprise we do not even have a word in polish for "kommunalka" or "obshchezhitye".
jon357 63 | 14,122
30 May 2013  #5
I think those Soviet era flats were more a matter of social engineering than real housing needs.

There was even more overcrowding in St Petersburg and Moscow before the revolution. No social engineering, just overcrowding.


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