The story of the anti-communist democratic opposition in Poland is a big inspiration for many people around the world . The Gdańsk Shipyard became a recognisable place on a map of historical peaceful triumphs and the place where dreams came real. Independent self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity” is a Polish trade union, it was founded on 17 September 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. It was the first union trade in Warsaw Pact region which wasn’t controlled by communist party. It had almost 10 million members.
Whole history had started in the shipyard, where people surrounded by ship equipment started to think about their rights, about the future of their children, about independence. The Gdańsk Shipyard was built in 1945 as a state-owned company. Before that at this place there had been German shipyards, both destructed in the World War II. During the time of People’s Republic of Poland the company was called Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk or Lenin Shipyard (1967-1989). The first ship which was built in this shipyard was named SS “Sołdek”, it was launched in 1947 (it is now preserved as a museum ship). The company built not only ship equipment like cargo ships, fishing vessels, scientific ships, torpedo boats, but also trams and trains. It built vessels for the navies of USSR, Poland, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and East Germany.
A strike led by Lech Wałęsa caused transformations which led to liberate Poland and destroyed USSR. The Gdańsk shipyard and its people became a wide recognisable symbol of unity. Trade Union “Solidarity” achieved its goals by using social movement and the methods of civil resistance. As a result of these actions the politicians agreed to the round table talks, which provided a semi-free elections in 1989. Today the Union Trade “Solidarity” is a recognisable movement, but it doesn’t have a powerful place in polish politics and the Gdańsk Shipyard produces transport ships, container vessels, offshore boats and other ship equipment. the Polish nation did not forget about the history of Trade Union “Solidarity” and the people sacrifice, and therefore in the city of Gdańsk runs the European Solidarity Centre, which has been opened in 2008 (moderated in 2014).
It is a museum (in its collections are such an items like the wooden boards with the 21 demands which hung on the entrance of the shipyard during the strike of August 1980 or the gantry crane where activist Anna Walentynowicz worked) and a meeting place (it has 17 rooms and The Winter Garden). It was founded as a space of shearing thoughts and realizing children’s and youth projects, theatre productions and film screening, leisure and artistic activities and many other possibilities.
It can be a wonderful possibility to visit the city of Gdańsk its grat historical monuments like Artus Court, statue of Neptune and of course the shipyard and the European Solidarity Centre. It is a intersting opportunity to learn the past and think about democracy and liberty.