I'd passed by this museum in winter, and if it was possible to look worse, being surrounded by snow didn't help. But it's not supposed to look nice - it's the basement and remains of the front gate of Pawiak Prison. The prison was used as a political prison by the Russians then the Nazis for over 100 years and the Nazis attempted to remove evidence of its existence before their departure at the end of WWII. The museum is based in what's left. The "sister" prison, Serbia (a women's prison) across the road is only marked by a monument but its inmates are also mentioned in the museum here.
When I finally visited, it was superb though. Friendly staff, and in one direction you have former cells with memorials and information in. The prison tries to remember a lot of the inmates - and there were a lot of "normal" people imprisoned here - as well as senior politicians and the odd celebrity.
Rather than a grizzly reminder (that I thought it might be) it seems to be a reflection on the inmates and what they did to remain...well, human. I haven't been to the sister museum where the Gestapo tortured people from this prison, but this museum is very inspiring - and a whole section is devoted to the remaining tree outside which has a story of its own - again a reflection of the Polish people and their dedication to remembering history. Rather than showing horrible photos, there's a lot of art drawn by inmates of each other.
The second second section is more a more general museum Polish and English (and I think there may have been German too) showing the plight of the Polish in WWII. A reminder that not all Nazi occupied lands where treat the same (the Poles had it very bad).
The museum is just off Jan Pawla road - a major tram thoroughfare and trams also travel along Al Solidarnosc nearby from the Old Town. It seems to be open Wednesday-Sunday and bring change as, like many small Polish museums, they don't take cards and don't like change - it only costs PLN8 though (less than £2).
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