To be or not to be – Warsaw, August 44

To be or not to be – phrase from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. Its theme is spiritual dilemmas. In the hero’s philosophical monologue, Shakespeare focused on the issues of life and death, action and passivity, which can be synonymous to falling asleep forever.

To be or not to be … for occupied Warsaw – took on the direct physical dimension – the survival dimension of the City and its inhabitants. On August 1, 1944, the Warsaw Insurgents stood up to defend City with full determination of the spirit. How should we interpret this phrase today – in the immediate vicinity of the war by the Polish border?



The leitmotif of my graphics presented at the exhibition is the theme of the Vistula River. For my family, the Vistula River has become a symbol of tragic border crossings. My family lived next the Vistula River, on the New Town Square, years 1920-44. My grandfather, mother’s father, took part in the “Miracle on the Vistula” – War of 1920, as a minor. This participation turned out to be the reason for his death in 1943. The husband of my mother’s cousin, Kazimierz Sott (pseudonym “Sokół”), took part in the attack on Franz Kutschera on February 1, 1944 (Special Unit of the Home Army Kedyw “Pegaz”) and died in the Vistula River. Together with Zbigniew Gęsicki (aka “Juno”), they were stopped by the German blockade, on the Kieberdzia Bridge. After a short exchange of fire, they both jumped into the Vistula and got killed in the river’s currents.

My mother Helena née Sobótka, during the German occupation, was a member of the Resistance Movement. From 1942, a scout of the 19th Prague Scout Team named after Emilia Plater – paramilitary group „Gray Ranks”. August 1, 1944, in the “W” Hour, the Kierbedź Bridge was occupied by the Germans. From the left bank of the Vistula – Nowe Miasto, she could not reach right bank – Prague’s assembly, She fought in the Old Town (Home Army Headquarters at Świętojerska Street) as a paramedic and liaison officer of the Warsaw Uprising. She was taken together with her mother, to the German Ravensbrück concentration camp from the Uprising.

Let the support of my graphics be the beautiful “Prayer” by Janusz Krasiński from his first volume of “To the Execution”.

Hanna Haska, 15.07.2022



O Mother of God from the tympanom of a miraculously saved temple!
You with the smoke scorched face facing the river, looking at the bridges for centuries
connecting both banks of the city! You, who patiently endured Swedish Rajtarzy
blasphemy under your altar, and you saw Kozaccy riders with dripping children’s
blood sabers, during the slaughter of Prague. You, who with the painful face henceforth
defending the independence of a nation barely freed from slavery, You made
a miracle on the Vistula River, to restore his pride and memory of its former glory
– be merciful to him!

Most Holy Mother with a bleeding heart with new and new wounds!
Who, you saw death with a howl dive from the sky, on wings with black crosses,
walls of houses laying on the streets like undercut trees, birds sintered in the flight
of the glow of fires, and children crushed on steel barricades caterpillars
– be merciful to him!

O You, mourning those driven by the river! …
Horse kibitki from the citadel – to the land of ice and eternal night; frighteningly
cars howling from Aleja Szucha and Pawiaka, when the mouth already filled with
stagnant plaster, in forest graves; from the Umschlagplatz in sealed cattle wagons
– to the Wired Land by electric wires,where the water-thirsty lips were sprinkled
with a cyclone B
– be merciful to him!

Spokesman for jumping from the bridge into the river whirls, after an unsuccessful
escape from the place of the attack on the executioner of Warsaw; a peaceful
harbor of the betrayed for the human rush to help the dying, but secretly condemned
to extinction, who from the Prague shore, in desant boats, crossed the hell
of the lead boiling over river to the bridgehead of common death. Morning mist
flowing ashore from a high escarpment and the hope of women drawing water
from the Vistula River under the merciless fire of the shot putters; guide of children
returning to the corpses of their fathers on an uncertain ice crust and to demolished
houses …

Mother Most Painful, whose fire dried up tears, and the wounds of the heart
were sealed with the clotted blood of millions of those faithful, be also merciful
to him driven from the most powerful of the Offices along the swaying pontoons
to the Praga shore, where he was to lay a Judas kiss on the palm of someone else’s
O most compassionate – be merciful to him, though he is going there in such
a vile matter!

Janusz Krasiński

I volume “To the Execution”
translation Hanna Haska


Gallery “Tower” Parish The Ascension of the Lord
al. Ken 101, Warsaw
Vernissage – August 27 at 19.00
Visiting – 4 Sundays (August 28, 4,11,18 September)
time. 16:00 – 21:00
Exhibition curator – Jerzy Teper, art. sculptor,

Author of the poster Hanna Haska,

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