Jan Oldakowski, the director of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, said the film "City of Ruins" is mainly meant for young people who do not realize the degree to which Poland's capital was destroyed from 1939-45.
"Young people do not understand what it means that Warsaw was in ruins; they think it was just a few collapsed houses," Oldakowski said during a showing of the film to reporters in Warsaw. "Nor were we, at the museum, fully aware of what the city looked like."
The destruction was the result of bombings carried out by Nazi Germany, which invaded Poland in 1939 and occupied it for six years, killing millions of people. Most of the damage resulted from the German army's revenge for the city's 1944 uprising against its brutal rule.
Although the uprising failed, it remains an important element of Polish national identity. The heroism shown by the insurgents - among them women and teenagers - is a source of deep pride to this day.
Oldakowski said it took 40 specialists two years to make the five-minute 3D aerial view sequence, a simulation of an imaginary flight over the city right after the war in 1945.
It will be shown at the museum, which documents the 1944 uprising and is a major draw for tourists and students from across the country. Last year, it had some 500,000 visitors.
Michal Gryn, from the Platige Image studio which made the film, said the team was not aware at first of the challenge before them in the form of the masses of documentary material they had to go through.
"It was a unique project to build a 3D model of authentic city ruins and make five minutes of film from it," Gryn said. "I don't think that anyone in the world has done this."
His team took a helicopter flight over contemporary Warsaw to film base material. They filled it in with detail from some 2,000 historic pictures, films and paintings to recreate Warsaw as it was after the war. The result is a computer simulation that shows collapsed bridges along the Vistula River, whole districts of roofless, burned-out houses and the Warsaw Ghetto as a flat sea of rubble.
An inscription that closes the film says that before the war some 1.3 million people lived in Warsaw, some 900,000 at the start of the uprising and just 1,000 amid the ruins in 1945.
Before the war, some 10 percent of the city's population was Jewish.
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