Gdańsk

One of Poland’s most beautiful cities, Gdansk, on the Baltic Sea, has played major roles in history, especially in the 20th-century. It was the 1939 flash point of World War II, and then in 1980, the birthplace of the Solidarnosc labor movement, ushering the end of Communist domination in Eastern Europe.

The word Solidarity, or Solidarność as it is in Polish, is synonymous with the city of Gdansk. Although the movement which burst into life at the time of the shipyard strikes of 1980 is closely connected with Gdansk, the phenomenon that was Solidarność was not confined to the city. If truth be told there are other cities in Poland which feel that Gdansk has unfairly become the symbol for a movement that connected with and was born from Poles throughout the country. But for the foreign visitor with a memory of the 1980 strikes the image of Solidarity is Gdansk, its shipyards and the leader of the protests – Lech Wałęsa.

When visiting Gdansk, you may feel that you are carried back to the Middle Ages, and even though substantial parts of the town consist of reconstructions from after WWII, you will still find plenty of authentic, genuine old buildings. Most streets are located where they were in medieval times, and more than 30% of the streets have had the same names for more than 500 years. The old town is one of Europe’s largest historical centres, and the medieval centre is around twice the size of the corresponding centre in Krakow. 

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk. Poland was the first country to fiirmly resist the brutal expansion of the totalitarian powers that were utterly indifferent to the rights of weaker countries. Poland’s armed resistance to German aggression on September 1, 1939, was a turning point in world politics towards tthe Third Reich. Contrary to the hopes of Adolf Hitler, on the third day after the commencement of military operations the German attack on Poland transformed into a world war.