Das Video des fertig restaurierten bzw konservierten Warszawa:
Während der Warszawa auf seinem Weg nach Rom ist, hier einige Bilder der Restaurierung des Warszawa:
Hier finden Sie die wichtigsten Pressemeldungen zum Fahrzeug und zur Reise nach Rom. Deutsch:
We are back from our holiday. Pope John Paul II is still omnipresent in Poland, one can find his picture on many churches and other buildings. “It is him again, and we own his car!”, I said to my wife proudly several times. She must have been very happy when we finally arrived at the hotel, where I could not find a picture of Karol Wojtyla and comment on it. One night, we were talking to the manager of the hotel. I told him that we would probably visit him on our next trip with the Warszawa. He must have been happy to hear that, because all drinks that night were on the house. The next day we did a trip to Danzig. On the way back to the hotel we passed by the ‘Place of Solidarity’ with the monument of the workers’ uprising.
“I worked here as an electrician before.”, the taxt driver mentioned. “As an electrician? Wasn’t Lech Walesa an electrician at the shipyard?”, I asked him. “Yes, we were workmates.”, the taxi driver replied, and began to tell stories from the period of the revolt, how the wives of the shipyards’ workers used to plug flowers into the tanks’ armored conduits, and how the young soldiers on the tanks were shaking. We went on to discuss the role of Pope John Paul II during that time, and I mentioned that I had a nice souvenir of him back home. “There are supposed to be a few things left from him.”, the taxi driver noted, looking at me quizzically. “I have his old Warszawa, his first car.”, I answered. Short silence. “Really?”, he asked. “Yes, really. He is parked in my garage.”, I replied. “I dont believe that!”, he said as if I was joking, looking sceptically at me. I showed him a few pictures of the Warszawa on my mobile phone. The traffic lights turned green, but our taxi did not move. He knew the car from television, as there is a full movie about it in Poland. Someone blew the horn behind us, and the taxi began to move again. “I am driving the owner of Wojtylas Warszawa through Danzig?”, he said before he turned off the taxi meter. “That is unbelievable! I have to tell this to my wife right now! I will quit my duty after this ride, buy some cake and drive home for coffee.” A little bit over the top, I thought, but he even upped the ante: “That was my best day as a taxi driver so far!”, he thanked me, instead of me thanking him.
The ride remained free. That was the moment when my wife finally realized that this car had a special meaning. And as all good things come in threes, I got an unprompted offer from an businessman for the Warszawa before our departure. “What do you think, should we sell it?”, I asked my wife. She thought about it, looked at me and replied: “No, I think you should really keep it.” I was very glad to hear this answer. Finally, the car had arrived at my wife. “The car is not for sale.”, I kindly replied to the offer. After that, my cousins Piotr and Marcin Pozauc from Danzig visited us in the hotel. I showed them the pictures of the Warszawa and asked whether they could help me with finding spare parts for the Warszawa. The car is relatively unknown in Germany, and my first research on Ebay Poland back home failed. But there are other platforms to search for such parts, as I found out, and we were already successful that evening. I generously strained my cousins’ bank account to buy the first parts for the planned restoration, which would start soon. I still had to decide for a color – the original light green or his previous color, blue. But things should turn out differently.
The VW Bus is packed. I am driving to Sopot on the polish baltic coast, Just like every year. Only that before I did it with my friends on a motorbike, but this is already my second time with my wife and and our little daughter. We are staying at the Grandhotel, which has been designed by the architect Kloeppel, who is from the family which has warm-heartedly admitted me in 1988 after my deportation from the GDR to the BRD. I was sitting in front of the Warszawa together with my friend and neighbor André for countless nights during the last weeks. The remains of polish dirt tracks were crumbling out of the wheel houses, the front left fender had a different colour and the left front wheel was leaning sideways. The front bumper appeared quite modern did not match the rear one. The car must have had an accident, I was guessing, possibly at the front left side. This suspicion is amplified by historic pictures of the Warszawa. Bumper, indicator, grill and headlights are from the successor Warszawa Sedan notchback, wiggling in the rusty fenders. Please do not touch!
The rubber buffers don’t belong to the rear bumper. The red indicators at the rear have been replaced by yellow ones. That may have been a typical rebuild in the past, but it isn’t original either.
I enter the car through the sagging passenger door and take a seat at the messy driver’s seat. Karol Wojtyla never had a driver’s license, at least that’s what I read in the internet. He used to sit on the rear right side. I turn back and face his former seat, thinking to myself: that is where he used to sit and look at the world through a pane of glass. Life itself was the greatest gift to him. His attitude towards contraception, family and protection of the unborn life were seen by many as ultra conservative. But what did his critics and self-proclaimed representatives of the younger generation think when as much as four million adolescents pilgrimaged to his World Youth Day? This pope attracted more young people than the biggest rock concerts in the world.
Due to a mix of respect and awe I have not yet seated myself in the back of the Warszawa. I prefer the role of the driver. I hold the sticky steering wheel with both hands. I’ve read in polish internet forums that in this model the steering wheel is generally white compared to the black one that is currently assembled in this Warszawa. I step on the brake. The counterpressure of the brake pedal is initially absorbed by the floor panel, and the handbrake is rusted-in. The steering wheel has way too much clearance, one can move it without seeing the wheels budge. The car radio, a later model, can be pulled out easily. It is not connected and possibly served previously as a placeholder for the seller. The Warszawa has been completely overhauled only once during his 19 years with Karol Wojtyla, as the previous owner had bought the car in his actual color and with stick shift. The Warszaws’ orignal color was light green instead of the actual blue. One can see the original color where the blue paint is crumbling, especially at the doors and in the engine compartment. Only the left fender seems to be ok, as it has been replaced at some point. From the viewpont of a classic car fan the light green would be the original color. Regarding the history of this car, both colors are original. How does one restorate this car? This question circles my mind since this car entered my garage. The technical part is surely not the biggest problem, but how does one cope with the rusted-in vehicle body and the interior?
“You should not rush it!”, Andre says to confirm my deliberation. It was not to be an easy decision.
I had one week time to clean up my garage. I rent a trailer and leave to Düsseldorf the evening before. With such a distance inbetween, I prefer to stay for the night on site. Michael Fröhlich expects me beaming with joy. “Good morning! Good to see you again! Coffee or cappucino?“, he asks in his refreshing way. „I’d like a cappucino, please.“ I’m not even finished with my cappuncino, when the former owner of the Warszawa enters the place. „Good morning Alexander!“, he is greeted in a friendly way by Michael. Last names don’t matter much to Michael. Alexander Gawron is from Regensburg and speaks german with a polish accent. I had expected the previous owner of the car to be something like an early retired guy, but pension seems more like 15 years away for Alexander. We get seated at a table and Alexander Gawron hands me the folder with the original documents. Once again, I am surprised, but this time in a positive way. I find the original registration certificate and the confirmation of registration from 1958 in his folder, and furthermore the guarantee booklet in the name of Karol Wojtyla as well as his personal insurance documents and deposited tax statements. All documents are original. And then Alexander Gawron hands me something unexpected: the original purchase contract between Karol Wojtyla and the cousin of his mother, including the registered vehicle identification number and engine number. The Warszawa couldn’t be documented any better! And then there’s the original number plates.
Previous owner Alexander Gawron
Michael Fröhlichs’ car dealership is named „Fantastic Automobiles“, and now I truly find this to be the appropriate name. „When my mother’s cousin heard that Karol Wojtyla had become Pope John Paul II, he carefully preserved the original documents, and put the Warszawa unrestorated in his barn.“, Alexander Gawron explains. I naturally prefer the original condition of the car to any half-hearted restoration, even though the Warszawa is strongly affected by rust. In any case better than repainted fillers, I think to myself. This car was family-owned for 35 years, which makes me only the second owner after Karol Wojtyla. We are talking about Pope John Paul II during lunch, after which Alexander Gawron says goodbye: “I am happy that the Warszawa has fallen into your hands!“ And I am happy about the way he said that. Back at Michael’s place, we put the car onto the trailer together with his mechanics.
The Warszawa is being put on the trailer
Before finally leaving, Michael asks me to reserve him some minor part of the Warszawa as a reminder, just in case I decide to restorate the car. „I will surely do that“, I reply, and get going with the Warszawa on the trailer. At first, I found him to be a bit weird, then crazy and slightly binged up, but finally sympathatic and open-heartedly. I am happy when two guys from Poland give me the thumbs up through the car window on the Autobahn, and arrive at my home early evening. My wife did not need to say anything – the question she had in mind was clearly visible in her face. That must have been a similar look to the one I had when I first saw the car in Michael’s exhibition hall. „Did you think this one through?“, she asks me. „Absolutely!“, I answer, tapping on the folder with the original documents. My father-in-law, who is usually more enthusiastic about my spontaneous actions than his daughter, helps me unloading the Warszawa, before I finally return the trailer. „Is my trailer now ‚sacred’ as well?“, the lender asks me smilingly. „Possibly“, I reply, not quite serious.
The Warszawa has finally arrived
Pope John Paul II will be canonized by the church! This announcement goes around the world on that day. And his Warszawa is still at the car dealer in Düsseldorf. A year passes by quickly, and I wasn’t in a hurry to get the Warszawa home. My garage is still full and the car is parked well and dry with Michael Fröhlich. If it wouldn’t have been Karol Wojtylas car, every car dealer would have placed it in the backyard under a tarp. But Michael was glad for numerous pilgrims and other interested visitors throughout the year. But with the proclamation of the canonization all of a sudden things were changing with me. The Warszawa is becoming a relic! I am already envisioning tourists scraping off tiny layers of paint and unscrewing the original number plates.
St. Peter’s Square, people’s call for canonization
„This is Michael Fröhlich, good afternoon!“ I am already familiar with this introduction. „Did you hear the news today?“, I ask him expectantly. „No“, he replies shortly. „Pope John Paul II is going to be canonized!“, I tell him. „Didn’t I tell you! Do you remember? I told you! You can be happy that you have bought the Warszawa last year from me! You are the only person in the world that owns a car of a saint!“ He really is a crazy and good salesman. „Can I pick up the car tomorrow? Are all the original papers with you?“, I ask. „Sorry, they are still with the previous owner, I call you back in a sec.“ The return call is a long time coming. The former owner of the Warszawa is abroad and cannot be reached via phone. He lets me know via email that he will be in Düsseldorf on the 12.07.2012 to deliver the papers. „Thanks Michael, we will meet on the 12th of July at your car dealer ship.“, I say goodbye. I was relaxed for more than a year, but now I wanted the Warszawa at my place, as quickly as possible.
How am I going to tell it to my wife? This kind of surprise is usually not to her liking. While I am still searching for the right words at the breakfast table, my wife asks me: “That was quite a long visit. You did not buy that car, did you?!”. She must have read my face. “I had to buy it”, I explain and try to excite her about the complete documents and the original license plates of the Warszawa. I note that my explanations are not enough, and tell her my very personal view on Pope John Paul II, a person who built bridges instead of walls throughout his entire life, for whom there was no race, nationality or wrong religious orientation. A person who loved all people, even his critics or enemies. Who had the power to forgive his would-be assassin, and who drew attention to the jewish roots of Christianity, and the first pope who entered a mosque and a synagogue. This pope was truly a free sprit, more free than most of his critics. Regardless of which miracles were or were not attributed to him, Karol Wojtyla was a miracle as a person to me.
Wailing Wall Jerusalem, 2000
After a short silence I am already expecting one or another reproach for my solo action yesterday, but it fails to appear. Instead, my wife asks me: „And where are you going to park the car? Your garage is full already.“ I was relieved. Michael Fröhlich had offered me to leave the car temporarily in his exhibition hall. He was rather glad to have this car with him for another while. We agreed that, due to the shortage of space in my garage, I would collect the car after my summer holiday in 2012. In the end, it took yet another year until I finally came to collect the Warszawa in Düsseldorf…