Royal Castle Warsaw, Poles worldwide unite to restore after German destruction

After Germany invaded Poland, the Germans destroyed the old Royal Castle not as a fortune of war but as a direct attack on the nation. So even though the post war government was communist and therefore not much inclined to royalty or history, the decision was taken to rebuild. Something all Poles agreed with and many worldwide donated to. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

Photobombing todays stamp is the also put back together Sigismund’s Column. Remember the 1920s Polish stamp featuring the column. Here is a link. Notice the quality of printing on the two stamps. Now the stamps are almost 50 years apart but still this was one area the communist regime was doing a good job.

The stamp today is issue A557, a 60 Groszy stamp issued by Poland on October 14, 1971. It was a single stamp issue celebrating the rebuilding of the castle and it being declared a heritage site. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it is mint or used.

The Castle was built on the site of a previous royal residence by King Sigismund III coinciding with the move of the Polish capital from Cracow to Warsaw around 1600. The site was devastated by World War II. It partially burned in the initial attack and the castle staff stabilized the damage and began to hide artifacts. Hitler ordered the Castle dynamited and a historian team of Germans and Poles removed other artifacts. The building was not actually dynamited at this time but left a shell. After the Warsaw uprising was put down by the Nazis the dynamiting happened. The Germans planned to build a large Nazi center on the square but their time in Warsaw was almost over.

The new communist government put in place by the Red Army agreed to have the palace rebuilt and care was taken to recollect as many of the old artifacts as possible. A subscription was organized to pay for the restoration that occurred over many years and was still ongoing at the time of todays stamp. A majority of the funds for the work came from Poles in the United States.

A lot of Polish legends involve the castle. An interesting one involves King Sigismund Augustus who was mourning the death of his beloved wife Barbara. He sought out the services of mystic Pan Twardowski to conjure his departed wife in a séance. It was believed that Pan Twardowski had sold his soul to the devil in return for special powers. His wife appeared on a magic mirror that still exists in the castle. It was thought that this was achieved by the King’s mistress also named Barbara playing dress up with the assistance of the royal chamberlain. Pan Twardowski had a special codicil in his contract with the devil in that his soul could only be taken in Rome, a city he never intended to visit to cheat the devil. However the joke was on him when the devil came for him while staying at the Hotel Ryzm, Ryzm is Rome in Polish. When taken away, Pan Twardowski prayed to the Virgin Mary who had Pan Twardowski dropped on the moon with his friend that he turned into a spider. He still lives there today and his spider friend occasionally returns to earth on a string to bring him news of Poland.

Well my drink is empty and I will definitely have a few more pondering that legend. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

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