Museum of the Second World War Gdansk

Poland

We visited this recently opened museum yesterday. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Every community in the world who played their part took their place in the involving and graphic displays, but the inevitable focus was Central Europe and Poland in particular.

I hadn’t really realised how protected we were on our little island from wholesale displacement, from the destruction of communities, from unbelievable and barbaric cruelty to citizens and soldiers in many parts of continental Europe. Maps, displays of humble artefacts, moving personal testimonies told the stories of families torn apart, of wanton destruction and cruelty far beyond the concentration camps.

We spent four hours there. We could have spent days. It was utterly harrowing, utterly memorable.

Most of my photos are on my camera. I’ll simply show this. We walked past screen after screen with images like this. Every portrait is of one of the countless Jews who lost their lives under the Nazi regime.

Gdansk Shipyards

Poland

Back in the 1980s, Gdansk was often in the news. Or its shipyards anyway. And the activist electrician who worked there, fought to end communist rule, and eventually became President of Poland – Lech Walesa – was the one contemporary Pole whose name was known to everyone.

Today, we took a boat trip and passed those shipyards. Here’s our journey, beginning in downtown Gdansk, and continuing through the vast and still active industrial complex.

Gdansk

Poland

Gdansk. Danzig. It’s belonged to Germany, to Poland, to Prussia. It’s been proudly independent. It’s been an economic powerhouse as a Hanseatic town. It was reduced to rubble in the Second World War. And now it’s reinvented itself as a must-visit tourist destination. Here’s why.