Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gdansk, Poland - what's new is old again

With a population of around 450,000, GdaƄsk lies at the mouth of the Motlawa river and, along with neighboring Gdynia, is now the largest Polish seaport. Between World War I and II Gdansk was it's own man in the sense that it was a Free City not beholden to any other entity and, going by the name of Danzig, it operated in a customs union with Poland. Alas, as for most of Europe, World War II brought great changes and the city, along with all of Poland, ended up another unwilling member of the Soviet Union.
After 35 years of tyranny, enter Lech Walesa, a 37 year old shipyard electrician who, along with others, formed the Solidarity movement in 1980. This trades union movement was instrumental in ending Communist rule in Poland and helped bring about the collapse of the entire Eastern Bloc, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union.
We drove by Walesa's house and the shipyard where he worked, now long defunct. From electrician, to union activist, to Nobel Peace Prize winner, to President of Poland, he is apparently frequently seen about town and is very approachable. Another 20th century hero.
With no preconceived idea of what to expect we lurched into Gdansk. Were we in for a surprise! More pictures here.

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