The place from where my Father Teodor originated………..
My father was an Polish immigrant into the USA in the 1950’s, so back in 2008 I decided his escape from Poland story must be told. I did lots of research and finally decided that a trip to Poland was in order in the spring of 2009. Flying directly into Warsaw, Poland, my first stop was my Father’s birthplace and childhood home of Zyrardow, Poland. Going on my first trip alone to a former Communist country where I did not speak the language, made me a little bit nervous and apprehensive. Originally, my Father Teodor had planned to go with me, but his health just would not allow it to happen. But through him and out Polish relatives, we prearranged English speaking family and friends to assist me in my search. My Father, born in 1925 had left this small community right at the end of World War II as the Germans retreated and the Russians were given this land in a treaty with the United States and Britain. While my Father still had contact with his sister Barbara, I did not have any contact with that part of my family. So, I was meeting cousins that I had never met before!
First a little history of the town of Zyrardow, Poland. Originally founded as a textile factory in 1833 by the Lubienski brothers, it is inhabited by about 50,000 residents now. As most things go, the factory closed after World War II and it is mainly now a bedroom community with easy access to Warsaw by train about 20 minutes away. Many of the old factory buildings have been renovated and repurposed by housing, retail, and restaurants to support the community. Many of my relatives including my Father, his mother, uncles, and aunts had actually worked in the textile factory before and during the war. As the town was captured by Hitler in 1939, the factory became a main source of making clothing and textiles for the German war effort. It is amazing that today you still the relics of Communist era apartment buildings intermixed with buildings that changed or upgraded to new places to live and work. My Aunt Barbara has lived in this apartment for over 50 years inside nice and cozy, but outside still reminiscent of the communist regime.
But then you see the old Textile Mill buildings turned into historic monuments as a tribute to the historical significance of this town Zyrardow or renovated into lofts with retail spaces below. You will see all the buildings that are a part of the original factory development are constructed from a red brick.
Of course Belvedere Vodka drinkers know about Zyrardow as it is where this premium brand has been produced since 1910. Belvedere is considered a super premium vodka because it uses specific Polish grains or potatoes and Polish water. Named after the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Belweder it is the building illustrated on its bottles. Try some, it is very good!
As I digress, let us get back to Zyrardow itself and talk about its meaning to me personally. As I said before, it is the birthplace of my father and his family going back generations. We have a family grave there that represents some of those people who have been laid to rest at the town cemetery.
The main square with the City Hall on one side it dominated by the Church of our Lady of Consolation. With land donated by the owners of the textile factory this Lutheran Church was built in the 19th Century. One of the features is the unique stained glass windows that represent the Stations of the Cross.
Looking for a small cute historic place not to far Warsaw, please go visit Zyrardow, Poland. With the Belvedere vodka factory free tastings, it can make it a fun visit!