A bit of history
The new stage of the Warsaw Chamber Opera – Basen Artystyczny Stage – is situated in a building built for the needs of the Polish YMCA organisation. The facility was constructed in compliance with the highest standards applicable in 1930s and was equipped, among others, with a huge gym, 25-meter swimming pool, lecture halls, as well as reading and concert rooms. During the Warsaw Uprising, this building was of key importance in maintaining the passage between Powiśle Czerniakowskie and Śródmieście. It was here, where the route was leading from Plac Trzech Krzyży to Książęca Street and further on Ludna Street and Czerniakowska Street. During the Warsaw Uprising, the facility, strongly fortified, was initially under the control of German. It was taken over somewhat by accident, when the Germans dropped bombs too close to their positions and the blast of the explosion swept bricks, which blinded the window openings and sandbags, strengthening the entrances. The insurgents did not miss such an opportunity. After entering the building, it was adapted to the sole factory of bottled drinking water. In the building, there was a drilled well, and the possibility of carrying water at that time was crucial, given the destruction of the water supply system and limited possibilities of obtaining drinking water. After the war, the organisation was dissolved and many activists associated with the group were imprisoned. After 1956 they were released and rehabilitated. The legend of the “Auntie Imcia building” has lasted in the memory of the Columbuses Generation as a fine and elegant youth club where you could always play tennis or meet with your friends.
(…) Well, I live in the former seat of Polish YMCA organisation, at Konopnicka Street, next to Plac Trzech Krzyży. Immediately after the war (…) this facility was a social, entertainment and cultural centre of Warsaw, well provided with comfortable sports rooms, an indoor swimming pool, reading and theatre halls, well administered by an excellent, rich institution, it was a real blessing for young people and Warsaw residents in general, living in the flats, that most often were an affront to human dignity, who were craving for a clean, warm, lively YMCA. (…) – Leopold Tyrmand, „DZIENNIK 1954”