Memories of Lenin

As an avid cyclist it is distinctly possible that during his two year sojourn in Kraków Lenin may have visited the area upon which Nowa Huta would later be built. He would make a high-profile postmortem return in 1954 when the Steelworks were named after him, and a year later his statue was unveiled in Strzelecki Park. The figure was moved to the Lenin Museum soon after, and thereafter mysteriously disappeared. In 1970 the decision was taken to construct a new one on Al. Róż, with Marian Konieczny winning the commission.

Strangely, the artist was at that time living in Lenin’s former flat. Perhaps inspired by this freaky turn of fate Konieczny took three years to create the stunning seven tonne statue of Lenin striding purposefully forward down the district's main road with his raincoat open and brow furrowed. The people of Nowa Huta, however, were unimpressed, and the statue soon became the focus of creative vandals. In one such case a rusty old bicycle, battered pair of boots and a handwritten note were left below the statue which read, "Take these old boots, get on the bike and get the hell out of Nowa Huta." In 1979 a bomb was planted at his feet, though the only casualty proved to be a local man who died of shock after being awoken by the blast. During the Martial Law era more attempts to destroy Lenin's statue were thwarted, and it doggedly survived an effort to pull it down, as well as an arson attack. Finally, on December 10, 1989, Lenin was picked up by a giant crane, boxed up and left to rot in a disused fort, until a Swedish philanthropist bought the monument for 100,000 Swedish crowns, and had it shipped to a museum outside of Stockholm. Today Nowa Huta’s former citizen has been given a more contemporary look by Swedish artists, and can be seen touting a pierced ear and a hand-rolled ciggie. But we kid.

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