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!