29 August 2007

Solidarity

Maybe Mr Reidski is right about underhand Western(US) links with the Polish freedom movement. I don't know. I don't think anyone really knows but I would like to believe in the legend of "Solidarnosc" - how Lech Walesa scaled the Gdansk shipyard walls in mid-August 1980 and ignited the blue touchpaper that would lead to the implosion of tired old state communism throughout the nations of the Warsaw Pact - symbolised ten years later by the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Walesa just happened to be in the right place at the right time and his fellow shipyard workers needed a mouthpiece, a man who could voice their accumulated grievances and their hopes for the future.

On Tuesday morning I was at the Solidarity Building near the railway station in Gdansk, specially to see the "Roads to Freedom" exhibition which documents and celebrates the rise of the Solidarnosc movement. I half expected the place to be mobbed when it opened at ten but I spent an hour looking round and by eleven nobody else had even entered the building. The two members of staff present had puzzled expressions on their faces when I bought my two souvenir T-shirts. I felt a little sorry for disturbing their underground peace. The old lady returned to her knitting. In nearby Solidarity Square, I saw the monument to the fallen shipyard workers of 1970 - a bitter memory which added fuel to the famous events of 1980.

The main street in the old town of Gdansk is I believe sometimes referred to as "The Long Market" and I swear it may be the most beautiful city street I have ever walked upon - shiny old paving stones and brick turrets, tall thin houses reminiscent of Amsterdam as it bends gently up from the river. Here you see civic pride and the trading wealth of six centuries - made all the more remarkable when you consider that the city was smashed to bits in World War II.

I rode on a riverboat out towards the Baltic Sea, to Westerplatte where the first shots of World War II were fired late in 1939. You gain a sense of the importance of this small maritime city - of its vital trading, political and territorial positions. I climbed the tower of the world's tallest brick built church and scanned the bright horizons all around. It still seems a proud place, one eye on the past but looking positively ahead to the future. It made me wonder why so many Poles are leaving their land when it needs them. Why aren't they staying to mend the teeth, teach the children, build the houses, revitalise their industry? Greed? Poland needs them and yet here in the UK we keep our doors open to all and sundry... but if you dare to broach this topic you'll probably be shot down in flames by the stormtroopers of the P.C.G.M. (Political Correctness Gone Mad).

When I tried to snap a shot of The Grand Hotel in Soppot where Hitler resided briefly in 1940, my digital camera died. This would never have happened with the Kodak Brownie I received on my eleventh birthday. So the pics are not original - just culled from Google.... By the way - totally unrelated - Wigan 0 - Hull City 1!!!! NAH! NAH! NAH!

10 comments:

  1. The funny thing about holiday snaps, is that you can actually find 90% of them already available on google, and they are all shot with a better camera, and more perfect lighting conditions than they were when I tried to snap them!!

    It's the memories that count!! It sounds like your trip was very memorable indeed, and I guarantee, you will look back in one year's time at this blog entry, with glassy glasnostic nostalgic eyes (I think that's a palindrome!!).

    Captured in the Kodak Brownie of your beautiful mind!!

    FoX

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  2. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2352455.html

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  3. I still haven't mastered the art of digital. Great blog - you took me there.

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  4. ARCTI FOX - When you mention my "beautiful mind" I hope you're not thinking of that film of the same name.
    REIDSKI - I tried your link and found a news item about homosexual Tellytubbies when i was expecting a serious expose about CIA involvement in Poland's recent history. What are ye trying to say La La?
    @THE MILL - Thanks. I feel complimented by the idea that I kind of "took you there". That's usually what I am aiming to do when I write about places I have been to.

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  5. Just called in to wish you good luck for tomorrow's onslaught, YP. And don't tell me you're not in till a week on Tuesday and then have a fortnight's INSET before the little horrors arrive!

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  6. I'm surprised you met any Poles at all. They are all darn sarf nicking all our jobs.
    Shame about the pics though.

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  8. Hi there, do you mind if I add a link to my blog as I enjoy reading about the homeland of Yorkshire so much....

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  9. Why aren't they staying to mend the teeth, teach the children, build the houses, revitalise their industry? Greed? Poland needs them and yet here in the UK we keep our doors open to all and sundry...

    I would really like to help people in other countries do things to help/rebuild their countries rather than promoting lots of immigration. Yeah, if someone really wants to leave, that's one thing, but if they feel driven out of their own countries due to economic necessity, then it seems more prudent to help them stay in their countries. We could foster goodwill through visiting each other's countries and such. Anyway, it's more complex than I make it sound, but I am working with just a little comment box.

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  10. you politically correct? hmm, to much jet setting l think. interesting trip though.

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