|Leokadia (Szymanska) Szerejko and Helen Bulak|
The photo above was taken on Sunday July 4, 1937 in front of the statue of composer Frédéric Chopin in Lazienki Park. The art nouveau style statue was designed by Wacław Szymanowski and occupies a prominent spot in the largest park in Warsaw. Like much of current day Warsaw the statue in the contemporary photograph below is a replica.
The original statue was destroyed on May 31, 1940, blown up by the occupying German forces. The Germans salvaged the resulting scrap and transported it to a German steel mill to be melted and used for the war effort. After the war a new statue was cast from the original mold and placed at the same site in Lazienki Park.
Like the statue of Chopin, Feliks and his wife Leokadia, were casualties of World War II. When I look at this photograph I can't help but think to myself, what if? What if life was different for Feliks and Leokadia and for the millions of other people just like them?
While a statue doesn't live or breath, it can serve as symbol for what was and is no more. Bronze can be recast. Chopin's statue was given a second chance at life, and like the phoenix it rises from the ashes to begin life anew.
* Special thanks to Denise Levenick for posting a link to this post from her blog, the Family Curator, for the "Past is Present: Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photography Day."
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