Stocznia Gdanska – Gdansk Shipyard
Gdansk Shipyard is a European Heritage site as a symbol of where post-war Communist authoritarian control over the Eastern bloc of Europe began to crumble in 1980.
Poland became the first country to break free from the Soviet Union through the Solidarity union and social movement. Ten years after the Solidarity movement gained political recognition in Poland in August 1980, the country held semi-democratic elections in June 1989, initiating the move from communism to a free-market economy.
Like dominoes, other countries of the Eastern bloc followed Poland’s lead in quick succession for democratic reforms across Europe.
Stocznia Gdanska – Gdansk Shipyard Gate No. 2
Gate No. 2 of the Gdansk Shipyard was the site of a workers’ strike involving 17,000 shipyard employees on August 14, 1980. Lech Wałęsa, a fired shipyard electrician, became the spokesperson for Solidarity and the workers. A list of 21 demands were created to establish better working conditions and pay. Workers remained on strike within the shipyard gates and thousands of workers across Poland supported their effort with other strikes around the country.
On August 31, 1980 the Communist government established the right of Solidarność to be an independent trade union free of Communist Party control. Over 10 million Poles across the country joined Solidarity. Within 16 months the Communist government instituted martial law in December 1981 and Solidarity was banned.
Lech Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
The struggle for democracy in Poland continued throughout the 1980s.
Gdansk Shipyard Gate No. 2 is now the site of the European Solidarity Centre museum, opened on August 30, 2014. The museum takes about 3 to 4 hours to tour, if you want to spend the time needed to study all the displays in 7 major exhibit halls with Polish and English informational signs.
Admission price is 20 PLN ($5.40 USD). Free audio guide headset included, although we found it to be a bit distracting and preferred simply reading the display signs.
Eastern Bloc of Soviet Union communist authoritarian control in January 1989.
June 4, 1989 – Poland’s first legislative free election since 1928 led the way to democracy. Solidarity candidates were overwhelmingly chosen by voters to form a new government.
June 4, 1989 was also the day of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square Massacre, squashing the democratic reform movements in China.
Lech Wałęsa became President of Poland in December 1990.
Roads to Freedom monuments – Gdansk shipyard brick wall and concrete Berlin Wall segments on city street in Gdansk, Poland.
Travel is education.