Eastern, Western, cosmopolitan – the influence of the multiethnic and mulitidenominational cultural heritage on the cultural landscape of Central Poland
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The landscape of Central Poland is marked by multinational, multidenominational and multicultural relations. It is in this area, as in Lower Silesia and the former Eastern Borderlands, that the existence of Poles, Germans, Jews, Czechs, and many other nations coincided. They lived side by side in Łódź, but also in other cities of the current province, without any greater conflicts, creating their own ‘small homelands’, at the same time leaving a unique mark of their presence, which speaks to the people of today with the power of its expression and architectural beauty of its buildings, the reverie of its cemeteries, the solemnity of the places of worship, the calm of its parks and the tumult of its streets. The German element, both Protestant and Catholic was the most expansive one, especially in the newly-formed industrial cities. The Germans were a well- -organised community with well-functioning institutions and organisations (crafts, social, athletic) and vibrant social institutions (Budziarek 2003, p. 84). Many of them underwent Polonisation and became loyal to their new Polish homeland, for which they suffered painful losses during the occupation, as was the case with the Geyer family. It is also needless to explain how much of a loss, not only for the Central Polish cities, the extermination of the Jewish population was. We have to bear in mind, that it made a huge contribution into the development of industrial cities, first by creating the financial capital, then also the industrial one and, finally, significantly strengthening the largely Polonised intelligentsia. It also left a significant, lasting mark on the cultural landscape of the cities, leaving behind numerous beautiful buildings that they owned or designed. Unfortunately, not many of the diverse objects created by the Jewish minority are left in the contemporary cultural landscape of Central Poland. Factory and residential buildings (tenements, palaces) are the best preserved, while places of worship are the most neglected. After World War II, many of them changed their purpose, some were converted and adapted for new functions, while others fell in disrepair. Representatives of the two other nations, i.e. Poles and Russians, as well as of several smaller nations, whose material contribution was not as significant (but creatively very important!), jointly created the face of the cities of Central Poland. The cities, one might say, that belonged to at least four cultures. Although World War II destroyed this common heritage, the multiethnic and multidenominational traditions of Central Poland, with their lasting monuments of material and spiritual culture, have remained to a bigger or lesser extent, depending on their location. We should keep in mind that those cities were built by people that differed a lot, but were able to communicate and work together regardless of these differences, thus creating a cultural landscape of local centres that was unique among other cities. The degree of architectural and spatial transformation in the region, almost without exception bears the hallmarks of a degradation of a traditional cultural environment. This phenomenon, in addition to the spreading of worthless architectural trends known all over the country, also includes spatial chaos, which is also aggravated by the unsupervised expansion of holiday construction. That is why certain legal forms of protection aimed at counteracting these processes should be strictly observed. The need of observing them is evidenced by the sad data that we partially quoted here. Otherwise, a number of objects attesting to multicultural character of this region will soon be found exclusively in illustrations.
- Książki/Rozdziały 
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