|Gdansk Old Town|
We are drawn to Gdansk Poland purely because of the events that took place there with the Solidarity movement back in 1981-89. The fact is we personally and as North Americans only knew a small portion of the history of Gdansk, or the Solidarity movement, or the fact that WWII started here September 1, 1939 at just past 4:00 am in the morning. And a place we had found about 100 kms away, the little town of Leba,
|Leba Tall Ships|
Our drive up to Leba is really pretty, this part of Poland is beautiful. About 400 kms from Berlin and 100 from Gdansk we wanted to stop here to see the dunes, a World Biosphere Site, unfortunately you have to walk 45 mins in to them, and it was threatening rain so we didn’t make the trek in. But there were a number of Tall ships in the harbor there and it’s a real tourist spot for locals.
On to Gdansk, and we discover a spectacular city with a storied and sometimes sorry past. Fought over for centuries it was part of Poland in the 18th century, was captured by the German’s in another war, and after Germany’s defeat in WWI it became a ‘Free City’ and Poland began to provide services and governance to it.
|Memorial to Initial Troops|
Germany and Hitler, upset with how they were treated in WWI tried to coerce them back in the early 30’s only to be rebuffed. Shortly thereafter Hitler and Stalin established a pact with a secret deal, Hitler would take over Poland, give a part of it to the Soviets and have Gdansk as a centre piece. When Hitler attacked Poland from the west, a short time later Stalin attacked Poland from the east. Poland immediately capitulated. The Allies failed to step in to this point because a French foreign minister, who secretly was a Nazi supporter suggested Gdansk, or Danzig in German wasn’t worth starting the next war over. The war began at Westerplatte Sept 1, 1939 and it took 7 days to take the city. Our late friend Julian used to tell us stories from his days as a Polish soldier who came from Lviv after it was partitioned off and became part of the Soviet Ukraine in the 1939 pact. We now find out he may have fought with a family member.
|Gdansk Inner Harbor|
Later during the Soviet occupation of Poland and the establishment of a puppet government in 1970 there was a Shipyard workers uprising that saw a large number of Polish shipyard workers murdered by the Soviets. Nearing the end of the 70’s Lech Walesa, a shipyard worker lead a group that became Solidarity after he was fired for being part of an illegal organization. He led the group as they locked out the Soviets and turned World attention on their plight. Shortly thereafter Pope John Paul II, the 1st Polish pope, made his first pilgrimage to Poland, and in total made 3 providing the moral support for the workers along with Walesa to lead a peaceful uprising without violence. While the Soviets did respond with violence, Walesa won the Nobel peace prize in 1983, and Poland eventually became the first Soviet occupied State to become free in late 1989. The Museum to Solidarity in Gdansk is a must see.
|Solidarity Museum A Must See|
With our driving part of Gdansk nearly complete I use my GPS to find the Gdansk shipyard where the next 3 BC ferries are coming from.
Inside the old town of Gdansk it has been restored to its former glory and is worth a visit both during the day and evening.