History
In 1923 a group of unknown Varsavians placed a stone tablet commemorating all the unknown soldiers who fell in Polish-Bolshevik War and World War I in front of the Saxon Palace, near the Ogród Saski. The initiative was upheld by several Warsaw-based newspapers and General Władysław Sikorski. On April 4, 1925 the ministry of war chose one of the battlefields from where the ashes of an unknown soldier were to be brought to Warsaw. Out of approximately 40 battles the Battle for Lwów was chosen. In October on Łyczakowski Cemetery in Lwów three coffins were exhumated: those of an unknown seargant, corporal and a private volunteer. The coffin to be transported to Warsaw was chosen by Jadwiga Zarugiewiczowa, mother of one of the soldiers who fell in the Battle of Zadwórze and whose body was never found.



Eternal flame and the honour guardOn November 2, 1925 the coffin was brought to St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw where a mass was held. Afterwards eight of the recipients of the Virtuti Militari medal brought the coffin to its final resting place under the columnade of the Saxon Palace. It was buried together with 14 urns containing soil from 14 different battlegrounds, a Virtuti Militari and an erection act. Since then a honour guard is held in front of the tomb.



Architecture
The Tomb was projected by famous Polish sculptor Stanisław Ostrowski. It was located under the central part of the Saxon Palace, then the seat of the Polish Ministry of War. The central tablet was surrounded with 5 eternal fires and 4 stone tablets with names and dates of battles in which Polish soldiers fought during World War I and Polish-Bolshevik War. Behind the Tomb two steel gratings with symbols of two of the highest Polish military medals - Virtuti Militari and Krzyż Walecznych - were added.



Some of the stone tablets.During the Polish Defence War of 1939 the building was lightly damaged by German aerial bombing, but it was quickly rebuilt and seized by the German authorities. After the Warsaw Uprising in December 1944 the palace was completely demolished by the Wehrmacht. Only parts of the central columnade with the Tomb were partially preserved.



Saxon Garden, with the Tomb visible in the background.After the war in late 1945 the reconstruction started. Only the small part of the palace containing the Tomb itself was restored by Henryk Grunwald. On May 8, 1946 it was opened to the public. Soil from 24 additional battlegrounds was added to the urns as well as more tables with names of the battles in which Poles fought in World War II. However, the communist authorities erased all the traces of the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920 and only a small part of the battles of the Polish Army in the West was included. This was corrected in 1990 after Poland regained its political autonomy.



One of the original tablets from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As the tablets mentioned battles of the Polish-Bolshevik War, they were dismantled after the World War II by the Allied-backed communist authorities of Poland and hidden in the cellars of the Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw. After Poland regained her independence in 1989, the tablets were restored and are currently on exhibition in the same museum, while the tablets on the actual Tomb were refurbished and extended to include the original battles as wellThere are also plans to rebuild the Saxon Palace, but it is unknown when and if these plans will be realized.


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