It wasn't a joke, that quip I made last night about the Stalinistic monstrosity in downtown Warsaw.
Here's a collection of pictures of many buildings in the genre, all awful, some ghastly; in it there is at least one picture of the Warsaw one, called the Palace of Culture and Science. Orwell's Ministries of Truth, Peace and Whatever in 1984 were referring to these things, as one glance will confirm.
This afternoon I was in a car with some Polish fellows and we drove by the edifice (it's hard not to what with it's being at an intersection of various main roads). My hosts confirmed that it had been presented as "Stalin's Gift to the Polish Nation"; when I asked why somebody doesn't simply tear it down and build something else (the area is full of brand new 30-40-story buildings all built since the end of Communism), they told me that actually there are plans to somehow retool the exterior of the building, so as to make it look like something else. Perhaps.
Anyway, my hotel is sort of at the back of the thing. We drove by the front. On its steps is a large Christmas tree, which is fine, and about 30 meters in front of it is... a Hannukia, all lit up. More or less precisely where the south-eastern corner of the Warsaw Ghetto was, if you'll pardon my being morbid.
My guess is that the local Lubavitchers put it there, with the agreement of the mayor, one has to assume. How do I know there are local Lubavitchers? Because of the Hannukia, obviously.