One of the exhibits of the Railway Museum in Warsaw, the private coach of Boleslaw Bierut, president of Poland 1947-52 (following rigged elections), first secretary of the Communist Party 1948-56, who maintained a Stalinist reign of terror until his death in Moscow in 1956. The coach was built just before WW II for the French government, but never delivered. Photo © Jerzy Dabrowski, Oko na Swiat, photo agency.
A meeting took place on Friday 21 August between Ferdynand Ruszczyc, the Director of the Railway Museum in Warsaw and representatives of PKP SA, Poland’s State Railway company.
Up to now PKP negotiators, who are trying to force the Museum to move out of Warsawa Glowna station had been taking a hard line negotiating stance. They had demanded that the Museum quits its premises by the end of August, and had threatened to cut off the museum’s hot water supply and to demolish some of the museum’s buildings. Stung by the resulting hostile press coverage, PKP’s negotiators are now adopting a more conciliatory approach.
They suggested that the Museum and PKP sign a commercial lease which would enable the Museum to stay on its existing site until the Museum’s new location was ready. The agreement would run from 1 September for a maximum term of 2 years. PKP are claiming that the Museum’s occupancy of the station site has costed them 4 million zloty (£850,000) to date and is costing them 26,000 zloty (£5,500) each month.
PKP wants the Museum to relocate to a plot in the Praga district of Warsaw, not far from Warszawa Wilenska station. The plan would be for PKP to hand the land over to the City Council in settlement of unpaid local taxes. City authorities are reported to be resisting the proposal. Ferdynand Ruszczyc estimates that relocating the collection and building a new museum could cost between 50 and 70 million zloty (£10.6 – £14,8 million). Neither he, nor the provincial government, has such funds at their disposal.
PKP has terminated the Museum’s licence to occupy Warsawa Glowna station effective 31st August. What will happen to the Museum after that? At the moment the battle is being fought in the pages of the Warsaw press and in smoke-filled rooms in government offices. Watch this space!