This strange lush green community of 27 wooden “Finnish houses” sits in a prime Warsaw location surrounded by embassies, royal parks and just a stone’s throw from the seat of the Polish government and the Presidential residence. Jazdów was built in 1945 as a temporary (five year) home for workers of BOS (Capital Reconstruction Bureau) whose job it was to oversee the reconstruction of Warsaw. The majority of these temporary homes still stand today albeit not in the greatest condition. They are know as Finnish houses because that’s where they came from as part of Finnish war reparations to the Soviets. The Finns delivered to the Soviets a total floor area of 840,000 m2 of wooden houses, amongst many many other things to make up the total owed of around $300 million at 1938 prices.
My first apartment in Warsaw was very close to Jazdów and I often used to wander through enjoying the greenery. It was all residential at that time. Two years ago half the residents were removed and four homes destroyed (for the German Embassy I think) and they had plans to continue with further ambassadorial or other developments. Protests from the citizens of Warsaw though managed to get them to stop and think so now we have a situation where some of the homes are lived in and others are not. These empty homes have now become part of [Google translated link!] “Open Jazdów”, an initiative to allow cultural events and organisations to use the empty houses.
Psychotherapy and most psycho professions tend to attract a lot of Jewish people. I blame Freud. My wife is a psychotherapist, hence the Jewish connection. Add to that a general interest in the whole Jewish-Polish situation and we were tempted by the invitation to visit yesterday evening the kibbutz that has taken over one of the empty Jazdów houses. They first of all showed a trilogy of movies by Yael Bartana that were originally shown in the Polish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.
The back room of the Finnish house was not large so watching the films was not easy, nor was it helped by a lot of fairly tricky Polski language. However, I have managed to find a piece written about the trilogy that will make a whole lot more sense than I will – here.
After the films everyone moved to the garden where there was a, somewhat intellectual, discussion involving three people my wife knew and nobody I knew. I was dying to butt in and ask “So are the Jews coming back or not?!”, but I thought better of it.
We left and wandered back to the car with the sounds of 1960’s American TV theme tunes blaring away from the garden of another artistic Finnish home.