Nov 23, 2021
Pasaż Simonsa (Simons’ Passage) owes its name to the German industrialist and building’s owner Albert Simons. The building complex consisted of two sections. The first part started being used in 1903, and construction as a whole was completed in 1906.
The first building was in the shape of an arc that ran from Długa 50 to Nalewki 2. It was a grandiose five-storey edifice with a large number of windows, which was very modern for its time. The second one, built deep into Nalewki Street, was given the address Nalewki 2a.
Today, this place is part of Krasiński Garden, which was enlarged after the war. Number 2a was, as the writer Moshe Zonshayn put it, ‘a Jewish kingdom’, as it was here that many Jewish political (but also cultural and sporting) organisations found their headquarters at various times.
From the beginning, the Pasaż building served a variety of functions; it was a shopping mall, an office building and a hotel. There were also numerous shops offering a wide range of goods and services.
The building was located in the heart of Jewish Warsaw, where one of its most important and best known thoroughfares and its symbol, Nalewki Street, began (today a section of the former Nalewki is called Stare Nalewki).
Among the Jewish organisations that operated at this address, it is worth mentioning the sports clubs: the Zionist Makabi and the socialist Morgnsztern. They not only had their offices here, but also gyms for various sporting sections. The Warsaw branches of both clubs had more than a thousand members by the end of the 1930s.
The future hero of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Michał Klepfisz, father of the contemporary American-Jewish poet Irena Klepfisz, was active in Morgnsztern as a student.
The building was destroyed as early as September 1939 and was located outside the ghetto walls. During the Warsaw Uprising, an insurgent redoubt was located in the building at 2a Nalewki Street. On 31st August 1944, the building was bombed and around 300 people died under the rubble. After the war, the ruins were demolished.
Unseen is available as a downloadable podcast, although it is best experienced through the Echoes geolocative storytelling app available for iOS and Android. After loading the app, search for soundwalks in Warsaw and you’ll find Unseen.