The Warsaw Voice » Culture » Monthly - September 30, 2015
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The Cold War in Pictures
An outdoor exhibition in the Grand Courtyard of Warsaw’s Royal Castle reflects back on the Cold War, a period that dominated global politics for almost 50 years and shaped the world of today.

The Cold War: A Short History of a World Divided chronicles the Cold War in over 200 photographs that highlight key moments in post-World War II history. The exhibition opens with pictures taken at the end of World War II, including a photograph of Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Yalta conference of 1945. During the conference, the three world leaders sealed Europe’s future as a continent divided between the Soviet and Western blocs.

The photographs on show come with notes and maps, including one of Central and Eastern Europe with the Iron Curtain marked on it, and a map of the occupation zones in Germany. Viewers can read a speech by Churchill with the first ever reference to the Iron Curtain. There are also excerpts from U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech in West Berlin and an address that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev gave to announce the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine after the communists suppressed the Prague Spring movement of 1968. Visitors to the exhibition can see a Russian-language copy of the constitution of communist-era Poland with handwritten alterations by Stalin, tellingly illustrating the Soviet Union’s domination over Poland during the Cold War.

The photos on show include pictures of the wars in Korea and Vietnam and the revolution led by Fidel Castro in Cuba, and there is also a famous photograph in which East German policeman Conrad Schumann jumps over the barbed wire fence separating East Berlin from West Berlin shortly before the Berlin Wall was built.

Part of the exhibition focuses on the Soviet and U.S. space exploration programs, which played a key part in the Cold War. Many photographs on show document key events that took place during the Cold War in Poland, such as workers’ anti-communist protests in 1956, the moment when Cardinal Karol Wojty³a was elected Pope John Paul II, the rise of the Solidarity trade union in 1980, martial law, declared in 1981, and the country’s first partially free parliamentary elections of June 4, 1989.

The exhibition’s final section looks back at the so-called autumn of nations of 1989, when other countries in the Soviet bloc followed Poland’s suit and regained full sovereignty. Also documented are the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The last picture in the exhibition shows Mikhail Gorbachev minutes before signing a decree on the Soviet Union’s dissolution.

The exhibition has been organized jointly by the Royal Castle in Warsaw and the National Remembrance Institute.

Until Oct. 15 during the Royal Castle’s opening hours
Free admission
4 Zamkowy Square, Warsaw