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Gdańsk-on the path of freedom

Gdańsk hides many secrets and the evidence that it witnessed incredible historical events. There are many fantastic places worth visiting to stand face to face with the spirit of the past and feel the mood of that time.  Especially for you, we prepared descriptions of places worth including on your must see list.

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Gdansk Shipyard, Doki Street (2/22)

Shipyard Gate No. 2
Shipyard Gate No. 2
Fot. Bartłomiej Barski

In August 1980, the striking shipyard workers used the Gate No. 2 as a sort of a shield against the potential attack of the army and the militia. They decided not to demonstrate in the streets of the city in order not to let the tragedy of December be repeated. The shipyard gate was padlocked and guarded by workers. Only delegations of plants joining the strike were allowed to enter through it. The negotiatior who signed an agreement with the protesters on August 31, 1980 also entered the plant through that gate.

At the time, Gate No. 2 was decorated with the Pope’s portrait, white and red national flags and flowers. Crowds were gathering next to it. Someone attached a sheet of paper with a fragment of Lord Byron’s “Giaour” that made a great impression on the shipyard workers: “For Freedom’s battle once begun, Bequeath’d by bleeding Sire to Son, Though baffled oft is ever won”. The inhabitants' support was also very practical; they were giving food, cleaning products and money to participants in the strike. They were giving them directly to the hands of workers between the steel rods of the gate.

The building of the industrial security service adjoining the Gate No. 2 is its integral part. It was on its top that the protesters hung out two large wooden boards with 21 demands from the government on August 18, 1980.

The first and most important demand referred to the acceptance of free trade unions independent from the ruling party. The second one mentioned the guaranteed right to strike. Among other things, the other ones referred to the freeing of political prisoners, an improvement of working and living conditions and the authority’s compliance with the “dead letter” provision in the Constitution of the Polish People's Republic regarding the freedom of speech, print and publication. When young activists of the opposition, Aram Rybicki and Maciej Grzywaczewski, were writing the 21 postulates on the boards, the radio was broadcasting the thundering speech of the then 1st secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party, Edward Gierek: “No free unions. There will be no doubt in that case”.


(1/22)

(2/22)