At 03:00 hrs on 2nd August 1944 the “Kampinos” group of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army), in total around 980 soldiers, attacked the airfield at Bielany in what was their second attempt to take it from the Germans. They failed. Thirty men were killed and slightly more injured. Much of the fighting happened on ground that is now part of the huta, steel foundry.
This area had also been subject to heavy fighting at the very beginning of the war when on September 21st, 1939, Polish forces tried to stop the Germans getting to Warsaw. A monument to this battle can be found along the road from Młociny metro station to the huta.
It was the monument to the August ’44 group, which lies along a road we often take to get home, combined with a scan of Google maps that got Zosia and I started on our exploration of the huta area. I’ve been interested by abandoned factories or similar locations since the ’70s when I explored the buildings left behind by the 1924/25 British Empire Exhibition in Wembley, London. Many of the larger buildings remained even then, 50 years after the event, not the least of which was Wembley Stadium (originally Empire Stadium) which remained in use until 2000. So, I needed little encouragement to drag my daughter into the woods and through holes in fences to see what we could find in the huta!
The huta started construction in the early ’50s and was operational in stages between ’58 and ’65. In ’92 a joint venture was formed with Lucchini who carried out modernisation and then in 2005 Lucchini was acquired by Arcelor Mittal who operate the site today albeit on a much smaller footprint than the original and without any belching smoke.
Using the monument on Encyklopedyczna as our starting point we walked into the woods. After a short while there is another more modern monument in the style of a grave and gravestone for the same people. We went past this and after a while turned right which led to an open area that was clearly once upon a time a railway track, presumably bringing goods in and out from the huta. On the other side of this is a large concrete fence marking the boundary of the private area. Fortunately it has a big hole in it so we got through to the other side at which point Zosia started getting both nervous and excited.
We found some tracks and headed in the direction of the main buildings but when we got within clear sight of the operational buildings Zosia refused to go further. Pity, because it was just getting interesting but we shall try again one day. We explored what we could away from the modern stuff and found plenty of evidence of old industrial usage, roads and buildings although sadly nothing above floor level remains.
On our way back we explored the rail track route and Zosia found more evidence in chunks of rusty steel, some from the rial tracks and some from what they were transporting. We got a shock when we startled a deer that was grazing there, a good sign of how the area has changed over the years.
There are plans to redevelop this area so we might not have much longer to explore. According to an article in Gazeta.pl from October 2012, Lucchini sold three large unwanted plots of land to another Italian outfit, Pirelli Pekao Real Estate. The area Zosia and I investigated (north west of the word “huta” on the map) was to become a large housing estate, the area roughly where it says “Bielany” on the map is planned as a shopping centre as big as Galeria Mokotow and the third plot (off the map to the south west) is planned for an office park. At the time of the article, the office park and shopping centre were approved as changes to the master plan but the housing was not. I suppose having the Galeria Mokotow of the north within 3 minutes drive of home but without having any impact on us must be a good thing, if it happens.