Banners were draped over the building as part of the film set

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On Twitter, posts share photos of a building draped in Nazi banners in Warsaw, Poland. But the images lack crucial context; swastikas were used while filming a WWII film.

“Polish capital today,” says a tweet from October 15, 2022.

Screenshot of a tweet from October 19, 2022

Several other tweets sharing similar photos without context can be found here, here and here. They coincide with ongoing tension in Europe over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and claims by Moscow that the Ukrainian government is “pro-Nazi”.

The German invasion of Poland in 1939 marked the start of World War II and much of the country remained under Nazi occupation until 1945, with Warsaw the site of a Jewish ghetto.

On October 15, 2022, parts of the city were decorated with Nazi flags and banners which many onlookers photographed and shared on Twitter.

But some photos were shared with misleading captions, failing to say the flags were the decoration of a film set during World War II and the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. This was confirmed by one of the film’s producers, a city press secretary, a spokesperson for the institution used as the set, and several local news reports.

George Byczynski, executive producer of the as-yet-untitled film, told AFP they were shooting that day and “in effect set up a scene of a German-occupied Warsaw during World War II.”

The film is about Krystyna Skarbek, a Polish-Jewish spy who worked for the British Special Operations Executive, Byczynski said.

A city press officer told AFP: “These flags were part of a set for a film about the history of the 1940s.” They were removed immediately after filming, the official said.

Thanks to geolocation, AFP has established that the name of the building in many photos is Palac Staszica and that it houses the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). An academy spokesperson told AFP: “We confirm that in mid-October this year Palac Staszica and its immediate surroundings became the backdrop for a Polish-British feature film.

“The producers of the film requested permission from the management of Palac Staszica to use the facade of the building and the square in front of it as part of the scenography. The consent included the placement of symbols related to the occupation of Warsaw on the facade of the palace. These symbols were only allowed to be hung on the day of filming.”

It’s not the first time the building has been used as a set for a World War II-related film. In 2013, it was a decorated background during the filming of “Kamienie na szaniec” (“Stones for the rampart”) where, similarly, Nazi banners hung on the facade.

Local reports also confirmed that the flags and banners were a decoration, and Wojciech Tymowski, a photographer from Gazeta Wyborcza, who was there, told AFP that they were: “Obviously the scenography for a film”.

Many historical costumes and props used during filming were also photographed.

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