Jan Kiliński Monument

Shoemaker, guild master, councilor, participant in conspiracies, memoirist, colonel, and finally the leader of the townspeople during the Kościuszko Uprising. It's hard to count all the roles played by this Warsaw townsman in his life. However, they were so important, and at the same time symbolic, that today at Podwale stands a pedestal in his honor, i.e. Jan Kiliński Monument.

Jan Kiliński Monument
Location: the corner of Piekarska and Podwale streets
Author: Stanisław Jackowski
Year of unveiling: 1936 (on Krasińskich Square); 1959 (in the present place)

Biography of Jan Kiliński

After this short introduction, information should be systematized and the story of Jan Kiliński should be briefly told.

He was not a Varsovian from birth. He came to the capital from Trzemeszno to polish the skills of a shoemaker, to which he had already learned in Wielkopolska. It was certainly a good decision, because in Warsaw he learned to be a shoemaker. Over time, he became the master of the entire guild, the owner of a plant employing 10 journeymen, the owner of a tenement house at Szeroki Dunaj street 5/145 and city councilor.

However, these days: 17 and 18 April 1794 were to make him a legend. As a member of the Revolutionary Union, he led the attack on Osip Igelström's Russian army, which he banished from the city. He soon joined the Temporary Deputy Council as the only one of the townspeople, and then became deputy councilor of the Supreme National Council. He was also the organizer of the 20th Regiment of Horse Pedestrian and its commander during the defense of Warsaw in the battles with the Prussian army.

After the fall of the uprising, he was arrested, and spent the following years wandering between subsequent Russian prisons. In 1798 he returned to Warsaw and lived a peaceful life as a shoemaker with a colonel's retirement. He also wrote diaries.

After his death on January 28, 1819, a dignified funeral ceremony took place on Warsaw's Powązki Cementery. Jan Kiliński was buried in Church of st. Karol Boromeusz, however, his grave was destroyed during the reconstruction of the church several years later.


Jan Kiliński Monument

Jan Kiliński waited for his monument until the 1930s. It was then that the idea of honoring a man was born who mobilized the people to fight against hostile forces. Stanisław Jackowski was chosen as the author of the project. This artist, born in Warsaw, already had two interesting sculptures that pleased the eye of the capital's inhabitants. Interestingly, both can still be admired in Warsaw. The first is Dancer in Skaryszewski Park, and the other is Boy with a crocodile on today's Dąbrowski Square (although in this case only a copy).

Kiliński was depicted in a combat pose, raising his saber in his hand, additionally wielding a pistol by his belt. The image of a shoemaker 4 meters high was to stand on a 3-meter pedestal, so we are talking about a monument of considerable size. His cast was entrusted in 1935 to the famous plant of the Łopieńscy Brothers.

A year later, the monument to Jan Kiliński was ready, and the unveiling day was the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Warsaw Craft Chamber. It was exactly on April 19, 1936. All the craft attributes of Warsaw, as well as President Ignacy Mościcki participated in this event. However, the monument did not stand in the place where we watch it today. It was placed in the central point of Krasiński Square, and Jan Kiliński turned his face to the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army.

During the German occupation, in 1942, the monument was dismantled. This was a consequence of the removal of the German plate from Mikołaj Kopernik Monument, about which I wrote in the article about this monument. He lived to see the end of the war in the basement of the National Museum. Interestingly, the dismantling meant that, apart from making the saber, it did not require much repair.

After the war, he was placed in front of the National Museum for a moment, and soon he was moved to its original place, on Krasińskich Square. He stayed there for several years, until on July 15, 1959 he stood at the outlet of Piekarska at Podwale, in the place where we can watch it today.

Pomnik_Kilińskiego oldcpics.org
Jan Kiliński statue against the backdrop of the Krasiński Palace (photo before 1942); source: oldpics.org

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