Second world war memorial mausoleum nears completion at Polish massacre site

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Polish architect and sculptor Mirosław Nizio has unveiled the first photographs of a mausoleum he is building to commemorate the victims of Polish village massacres during the second world war (+ slideshow).

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

Set to open in 2016, the Mausoleum of the Martyrdom of Polish Villages will pay tribute to thousands of citizens who were murdered during the German occupation of rural Poland between 1939 and 1945.

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

Its location in Michniów, south-central Poland, references one of the most well-known atrocities – a two-day attack on an entire village, where over 200 people lost their lives.

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

Mirosław Nizio and his studio Nizio Design International envisage the building as a traditional hut that incrementally deteriorates and crumbles into dust – symbolising the burning of the village.



The fourth phase of construction, which is now complete, involved building the concrete structures of these forms.

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

Photographs show them lined up alongside one another, with openings revealing the future locations of windows. The surfaces feature a wood-like grain texture that has been printed into the concrete while it set.

"The building has a characteristic segmented structure," said a statement from Nizio's studio. "Its tissue is cut across by cracks that divide the architectural form into closed and open parts."

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

"This form is the resultant of the sculptural inspirations and thinking of the architecture's consistency with the historical narrative," it added.

"The building undergoes deformation and 'destruction', which symbolically conveys the annihilation that took place here."



The building will cover an area of 16,200 square metres, with approximately 2,000 square metres of exhibition space presenting the history of the region.

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

The fifth phase of construction is now underway, which will involve creating pathways between the mausoleum building and the mass grave built in 1945, which is accompanied by the Pieta of Michniów sculpture.

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom by Nizio Design International

The Mausoleum of the Martyrdom of Polish Villages was commissioned by the Kielce Region Countryside Museum.

Nizio – who was also behind the exhibition design at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw – won a competition to design the structure in 2009.

  • Michael whittle

    This feels like everything to do with architecture and almost nothing to do with the massacre…

    • CharlesCU

      So what would you propose – another piece of jagged something from the Libeskind conveyor belt?

      It looks to me like an entirely appropriate and empathetic place. It is, after all, intended to be evocative of the villages lost and villagers massacred.

      Nizio is a remarkable creator, seemingly little appreciated outside of Poland.

      • scot sims

        It’s a memorial to the brutality and violence of war, but is this a memorial to the fragility of life cut short?

    • Camden Greenlee

      I agree with you. Sometimes subtlety goes a long way with projects like these.

  • No niewiem.