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Warsaw: Elegance From Out of War's Ashes

November 22, 2003

Re "A Tree Grows in Warsaw," Nov. 17: I am disappointed in your article. Poland is a fascinating country with a rich history and resilient population. Surely, readers of The Times would rather learn about the Polish soldier recently killed in Iraq on behalf of this country. Alternatively, they may enjoy discovering why many travelers prefer the magnificent city of Krakow to the crowded streets of Prague. Instead, this article perpetuates Americans' stereotype of Poland as a dull country with not much to offer.

Even the subhead of the article describes Poland's skyline as "bleak." In fact, the entire skyline of Poland is not bleak. Anyone who has visited Poland will happily inform The Times that the country has much more to offer visitors than a fake palm tree.

Liz Smagala

Los Angeles


Your article is a reinforcement of the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This can be said not only for the palm in the traffic circle but for Warsaw itself. To suggest that Warsaw is one of the ugliest cities in Europe, as one quoted comment did, is certainly an exaggeration. Having been on "ground zero" during World War II, Warsaw was ravaged several times as the war raged back and forth through Poland.

The city was rebuilt with the meager means available to a postwar nation saddled by communism; however, the old-town section was lovingly restored by its citizens, literally brick by brick because very little remained. Warsaw may not be a Paris or Prague but, considering what it went through and its defiant stance toward its Nazi ruler, it is an incredible old lady with a tremendous amount of elegance and class.

Rich Widerynski

Long Beach

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