Monument to Struggle and Martyrdom in Bydgoszcz – Nine Images
This is a detail of one side of the Monument to Struggle and Martyrdom in the central Market Square in Bydgoszcz, Poland, a sculpture commemorating the locals killed during the Nazi occupation there from the early days of the Second World War. That rendering radiates, even if darkly, the triumph of struggle. It seems apropos to finally organize these images, which I took last July, on the year’s darkest day.
The severe and austere elements of the bronze, sandstone and granite piece, designed by Polish sculptor Franciszek Masiak in 1969, fit the theme well; remembering the fight against and victims of fascism is what Socialist Realism did and does best.
The monument rests on the spot where dozens of area residents were executed by firing squad in the immediate aftermath of Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939. In and around Bydgoszcz, according to this account, “about 10,000 non-Jewish Polish civilians were murdered in the first four months of the occupation”.
During World War II, Bydgoszcz was occupied by Nazi Germany and annexed to the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia as the seat of the district or county (kreis) of Bromberg. On 3 September 1939, shortly after the war started, the Bromberg Bloody Sunday incident occurred in which a disputed number of German residents of Bromberg were killed in anti-German riots. The incident was exaggerated in Nazi propaganda as a pretext for lethal reprisals against the Polish population following occupation of the city by German troops on 9 September.
The history of Jews in Bydgoszcz ended up with the catastrophe of World War II, the German invasion of Poland, and the Holocaust. The city’s Jewish citizens were sent to Nazi death camps or murdered in the town itself. Bromberg was the site of Bromberg-Ost, a women’s subcamp of Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig (Gdańsk). A deportation camp was situated in Smukała village, now part of Bydgoszcz. An estimated 37,000 citizens of Bydgoszcz – Jews and non-Jews – died during the Nazi occupation.
It’s a powerful piece.
Eight more images below.
And marginally related, a city drinking water truck in the center of the squre.