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Wrocław's Train Station: Not A Happy Place.


jasondmzk
6 Mar 2012 #1
The very recent train crash near Krakow brought to mind my visit to Dworzec Główny in Wro. We were taking the sister of my girlfriend's roommate to catch the train to Katowice. I had looked forward to seeing this place, as I loved every other part of Wrocław, even the dingy parts. I was to be disappointed. It was cold, 2009 was a very long winter in Poland, and the main hall of the station was wet and frozen. It was night, and the terminals were poorly lit. My then girlfriend told me sometimes her and friends would come there drunk, and gorge on pitas and knishes before heading home. I wouldn't want to eat there. There were vagrants and shady looking people, everywhere. Beggars would approach people in line at the ticket counter, and panhandle every single person in line, aggressively. The platforms above were no better. Packed together, most passengers had backpacks that kept knocking in one another, and everyone was shivering and making humorless jokes about the trains never running on time. The trains were ancient and poorly appointed. Everything seemed old and sad. The whole atmosphere was very grim and somber. I don't believe in poltergeists, but it seemed haunted, really. I know that station was the site of a late exodus during the siege of Breslau, and many thousand lost their lives on her tracks. Maybe some places have such a heavy history, that there's no escaping its gravity. I still love Wro, and I don't hold her dworzec główny against her, but I won't be going back to that station, ever again.
gumishu 11 | 5,761
6 Mar 2012 #2
I don't know anything about late exodus - what I know is there was a war hospital in the underground of the Wrocław main station (and quite big) during the time of siege of Wrocław in 1945
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,441
6 Mar 2012 #3
I still love Wro, and I don't hold her dworzec główny against her, but I won't be going back to that station, ever again.

it is being renovated at the moment in order to present itself for Euro 2012. I can see why you have such feelings, but most of the PKP Dworzec in Poland have a lot to desire. Years of neglect really show. However, many of them have been renovated- still not enough to bring the shine back on.
PlasticPole 7 | 2,649
6 Mar 2012 #4
Interesting but if your gf and her friends went there drunk to gorge on snacks, how dangerous could it have been? It does sound really gloomy in winter tho. Maybe if you went during summer, you would have a different opinion?
gumishu 11 | 5,761
6 Mar 2012 #5
Interesting but if your gf and her friends went there drunk to gorge on snacks, how dangerous could it have been?

Polish bums are not a dangerous lot - they are obnoxious ye
OP jasondmzk
6 Mar 2012 #6
how dangerous could it have been?

My girlfriend would often shock me with her devil-may-care attitude towards things that most American girls would be loathe to contemplate, such as walking home alone through a park at night, or flippantly turning on her wipers when a beggar would try to clean her car's windshield. But this place, this train station? It certainly gave me pause. I felt a chill that was completely unrelated to the weather. I read somewhere that you know a place is haunted when it seems more real than you do.
PlasticPole 7 | 2,649
6 Mar 2012 #7
It could very well be haunted. If you do ever go back, try a hot summer night to see if you notice a different vibe just to be sure. Things are always much worse on frigid, winter nights!

I would like to see a Ghost Adventures show taped there, though.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,384
6 Mar 2012 #8
Wrocław's Train Station: Not A Happy Place.

it's not a happy place at the moment because it is still being renovated.

the beggars are still there. I was inbound from berlin today, so i know.

it will be the same platforms but with a new roof, so it will still be bloody freezing in winter.

and it still looks like they have a couple of months work or more before it's finished.

I would like to see a Ghost Adventures show taped there, though.

the last day that the station was open was a special open day with access to all areas. even the once hidden underground tunnels were opened up. it all finished early though. it was the day the president's plane crashed.
Wroclaw Boy
6 Mar 2012 #9
I can remember being the coldest i have ever been one bitter morning at Wroclaw Glowny, it was about -20 on the drive up to the station, we had to stand and wait for a good 40 minutes as the trains were all late that day due to the big freeze. Yeah not many good times to be had at that place.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,846
6 Mar 2012 #10
I was there with my kids in 2009 I think, it was very cold and gloomy with a one legged tramp sitting in a pool of p.iss and vile old lav attendants screaming BEZAHLEN at me.

I liked the architecture tho............
catsoldier 62 | 595
7 Mar 2012 #11
I think train stations are generally just poor anyway in most parts except some major cities.
rybnik 18 | 1,461
7 Mar 2012 #12
Yeah not many good times to be had at that place.

Funny you said that using those words. In my day, '79 - '85 ( I know, I know - ancient times), the place was always very clean save for the WC. That place always smelled very, very bad. no beggars though......During martial law me and my friends had AK-47's pointed at our bellies during a document check. I'll never forget that one. I still remember the look on the baby-faced soldier face when he realized he had stopped westerners. It looked as if he was slightly ashamed.
Bzibzioh
7 Mar 2012 #13
I read somewhere that you know a place is haunted when it seems more real than you do.

Popular Polish actor, Zbigniew Cybulski, died there trying to catch the train. Maybe his spirit is still there ...
cms 9 | 1,255
7 Mar 2012 #14
I went a couple of weeks ago and was appalled. Yes they are renovating but there were no signs, no lifts working, pools of **** in the corridor, no clear indication of exit and taxi rank. All things that could be fixed easily.

Mind you Warsaw seems to have had broken escalators for almost a year - what is so difficult about turning these on ?
OP jasondmzk
7 Mar 2012 #15
Zbigniew Cybulski, died there trying to catch the train

I remember there being a plaque or something, near the ground where he died. Odd that they would choose to commemorate an actor (whom acted rather recklessly), and yet there's no plaque for the thousands that were trampled or froze to death during Festung Breslau. If I believed in restless spirits, I might attribute their annoyance to this omission.
Harry
7 Mar 2012 #16
Mind you Warsaw seems to have had broken escalators for almost a year - what is so difficult about turning these on ?

I think it is something to do with the renovation of the station.

I really do hope that the rumours I hear about Warsaw station being demolished are untrue. Firstly I like the building, and secondly I utterly fail to see the point of spending two years and a shedload of cash renovating a building only to pull it down a year or two later.
Des Essientes 7 | 1,291
7 Mar 2012 #17
Bzibzioh: Zbigniew Cybulski, died there trying to catch the train
I remember there being a plaque or something, near the ground where he died. Odd that they would choose to commemorate an actor (whom acted rather recklessly), and yet there's no plaque for the thousands that were trampled or froze to death during Festung Breslau.

It is not "odd" that Poles would put up a plaque commemorating Zbigniew Cybulski because he was the star of some of Poland's most beloved films. He starred in both Ashes and Diamonds as well as The Saragossa Manuscript. The former is one of very few Polish movies that I have seen shown on American television and Cybulski was so incredibly cool in it that it leaves no doubt as to why Poles, a people not adverse to stylishness, would love this actor. The Saragossa Manuscript is the cinematic adaptation of the classic Gothic tales found in the incredible Jan Potocki's Manuscript Found at Saragossa and the film is renown, the world over, amongst cinemaphiles as a masterpiece. Luis Brunel himself, who before seeing The Saragossa Manuscript, had never wanted to watch a film twice, wanted to watch the film again immediately.

Yes Cybulski acted recklessly but that is because he was a reckless person. Like a noble Pole he lived dangerously and he truly deserves to be remembered.
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
7 Mar 2012 #18
Wschodnia in Warsaw is renovated after a fashion, Centralna looks clean now, but Zachodnia still has the same eighties feelinh. By far the coldest and creepiest is Kielce. Wroclaw station is atmospheric, but somehow Katowice is more so.
polishmama 3 | 279
7 Mar 2012 #19
yet there's no plaque for the thousands that were trampled or froze to death during Festung Breslau

Possibly (but don't assume I'm right, I'm just guessing) because the victims were Germans, many of whom were Nazi sympathizers? They knew for a while that Wroclaw was a Festung before the haphazard evacuation. I don't know. Being a Wroclawian myself, I would not want to see plaques commemorating those Germans, particularly those German Nazis. Regarding the hospital, it was a hospital for German Nazis, as far as I've ever known.
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
7 Mar 2012 #20
Most of them were ordinary people, including children, none of whom could have done anything to stop the behaviour of their dictatorship.

Thinking about it, that area round the back of Zachodnia Station in Warsaw. (a part of town that has seen more than its fair share of human misery and has the plaques to show it) especially the bit between the bikers' club and the park by the old tram sheds is quite an atmospheric place
polishmama 3 | 279
7 Mar 2012 #21
The children, I feel sorry for. Women, to some extent. The idea of whether the German people could stop Adolf Hitler will be debated forever in history. Myself? I think he could have been, simply because I hold people accountable and expect greatness and kindness from them. And they regularly disappoint me. And also? He was one man. Just one. He was only in power and followed because people followed him. Just like every other leader out there in the world.
TheOther 6 | 3,692
7 Mar 2012 #22
He was one man. Just one. He was only in power and followed because people followed him.

Well, Saddam Hussein was just one single man, too, and - compared to the total population - only a handful of people followed him. Still they were able to keep a whole country under control and slaughter a large number of their citizens. We are talking about a dictatorship and not about a modern democracy.

Being a Wroclawian myself, I would not want to see plaques commemorating those Germans

You can't close your eyes and hope that the past just goes away. Those Germans and the previously German cities and land are now part of Poland's history and you cannot simply ignore that.
polishmama 3 | 279
8 Mar 2012 #23
I wouldn't be ignoring it. Also, at one point long ago, those lands were Polish. We could discuss back and forth whether those lands are German or Polish. But today, they are Polish. My own Dziadek lived through the Festung. He was one of the Poles who were moved there to make room for the Jewish people who were moved East.

And you are right, Hussein was one man with a gang who backed him up. And others followed him as well. However, if I recall correctly, he perpetrated more horrors against his own people vs others than Hitler (proportionately to population, of course). I might be incorrect, idk. In the end, we have to be vigilant to not follow another madman again.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
8 Mar 2012 #24
Also, at one point long ago, those lands were Polish.

That was the justification used by the Communist authorities.

Even the choice of name, the "recovered territories" was very much designed to brainwash the population into believing that it was justifably Polish land, even though it had only been in Polish hands for a very brief part of history.

Like a noble Pole he lived dangerously and he truly deserves to be remembered.

Living dangerously deserves remembered?

I suppose you'll support putting up a plaque where every reckless Polish driver has killed himself, too.
TheOther 6 | 3,692
8 Mar 2012 #25
Also, at one point long ago, those lands were Polish.

At some point of time, large swaths of the Baltics and modern day Poland belonged to the Teutonic Order. Does that mean that Germany has any claim to the region?

Poland received the German lands in exchange for the lost territory in the east, and initially they weren't really asked if they want it. "Regained territories" is just BS commie talk to justify the ethnic cleansing that happened after the war. Stalin could just as well have taken the occupied Polish land in the east without ever touching German territory. Imagine what would have become of Poland in that scenario.
polishmama 3 | 279
8 Mar 2012 #26
Like I said, we could go back and forth about it forever. Dealing with the here and now right now. Personally, I think that if Polish German relationships continue the way they have been lately, that there will end up being a marker or something along those lines commemorating the women and children who died in the Festung evacuation. Possibly in 5-15 years. But it would also bring up the very sore subject of the border shifts and land lost in the East. So, there's the question. Is it worth it to open that can of worms? And what would come of it? What would it positively vs negatively accomplish? What would the long term effect of that reopened "can" be?
TheOther 6 | 3,692
8 Mar 2012 #27
I would welcome closer relations between Poland and Germany. The countries share large parts of their history, both cultures mixed extensively over the centuries. They have much more in common than the politicians want to admit. Maybe the EU and Schengen will make land borders obsolete at some point of time, and people can look forward instead of living in the past so often?
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
8 Mar 2012 #28
he very sore subject of the border shifts

Talking about railway stations and border changes, Ostrow Wielkopolska is a little town with a huge railway station - presumably it was the frontier until 1915.

I really do hope that the rumours I hear about Warsaw station being demolished are untrue. Firstly I like the building, and secondly I utterly fail to see the point of spending two years and a shedload of cash renovating a building only to pull it down a year or two later.

Have those rumours started again?
Des Essientes 7 | 1,291
8 Mar 2012 #29
Living dangerously deserves remembered?

Zbigniew Cybulski, who did live dangerously, deserves to be remembered for his art and he is rightfully commemorated at Wrocław's train station.

I suppose you'll support putting up a plaque where every reckless Polish driver has killed himself, too.

You suppose stupidly.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
9 Mar 2012 #30
Maybe the EU and Schengen will make land borders obsolete at some point of time, and people can look forward instead of living in the past so often?

The border is more or less obsolete as it is - to illustrate, I was at a street party in Germany last year. Didn't fancy paying 2.50 euro a beer, so we nipped across the bridge to Poland, bought a load of beers there for .70c each, then took them back to Germany and drank them there. No-one bothered us, no-one said a word. Took about 10 minutes to do.

And people are against the EU and Schengen?

Zbigniew Cybulski, who did live dangerously, deserves to be remembered for his art and he is rightfully commemorated at Wrocław's train station.

Yay, let's celebrate stupidity.

It's certainly a very Polish thing to do, as witnessed by the endless celebration of Polish defeats.


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