Raw and powerful…. but in my eyes an incredible beautiful building and it’s inside, Europejskie Centrum Solidarności (European Solidarity Centre). Also called ECS!
“We hold our heads high,
despite the price we have paid,
because freedom is priceless.”
I had seen the building but didn’t think so much about it. I thought it was a congress centre or something. Until my friends asked me if I had visit it and they told me that I wouldn’t regret it. How right were they???!!
Not really my thing … but I’m truly glad I spent a couple of hours .. because this building is a monument over the Polish people that with will and united – had the power to break away from communist regime and iron fist of Russia. First of all it made me very humble over the freedom I have … and for the power they had in themselves and each others.
It was about 20 min walk from my hostel .. and the more I saw of the building .. the more I was taken by it. And when I came inside it really blow the socks of me. The light, the greenery, glass stairs, space … breathtaking.
As I entered the area I met a newly wed couple working their photographer – what a fantastic environment for their wedding photos, what a contrast to the beauty of the Old Town.
“The raw, industrial terrain was once strewn with similar rusty metal sheets. Figuratively speaking, the metal also alludes to the simple and raw ideas put forward by Solidarity, a movement which took shape in this shipyard landscape.”
The building is built next to the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, not far from the famous gate number two of the Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, as it was then called.
For years, the gate, now a tourist attraction, was the focus of strike. It was there that on August 31st, 1980, the striking workers signed an agreement with the leaders of the People’s Republic of Poland.
Construction of the ESC commenced in the autumn of 2010, with a budget of 229 million złoty. Half of the funding came from the European Union, the other half from the budget of the city of Gdańsk. And was open in August 2014.
Wojciech Targowski, Piotr Mazur, Antoni Taraszkiewicz and Paweł Czarzasty – the main designers of Fort studio, Gdansk – proposed a structure with slightly sloping walls made of the fashionable material that is cor-ten steel.
Spread out on two floors, the ESC has seven thematically arranged rooms:
- “The birth of Solidarity” presents the strikes of August 1980. The room is dominated by a shipyard crane which Anna Walentynowicz adapted so that sitting inside the machine’s cabin feels like being in the shoes of shipyard workers.
- The second room, “The Strength of the Helpless”, is dedicated to ordinary people and their everyday lives in the People’s Republic of Poland as well as the birth of opposition towards the totalitarian regime.
- The next room, “Solidarity and Hope”, reveals the events that unfolded between August 1980 and the introduction of Martial Law in December 1981. Only for those 16 months was the first trade union of the communist block a legal entity.
- The fourth room, “War with Society”, divulges the drama of martial law.
- The fifth room “Room to Democracy” captures the slow implosion of the communist system which was crowner with the Round Table talks and partially free elections in June 1989
- The penultimate room “Triumph of Freedom” allows visitors to revise their knowledge of the political changes that took place throughout Central and Eastern Europe in the late 80s and early 90s.
- The last room, dedicated and named after John Paul II is a place of contemplation. Its windows face the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970.
The ESC complex also houses an archive, an auditorium for 430 people, a science research centre, a library with over 100 thousand books and a multimedia exhibition for children (text; culture.pl).
I remember it so well .. when it all happened. My mum and I cleaned out our wardrobes .. to send clothing and shoes to Poland. But I didn’t really understand the grandness of it all until I visit the center.
How people just raised up … united … without any weapon .. and they got their freedom.
Poland has been attacked, looted and raped by every king and ruler in Europe and Russia. Still they have come back .. time after time, during history.
To be honest I don’t really know what to say … because there is so much to be said and I can’t tell the story as this building does. To tell you the historic about the uprising and the victory… there wouldn’t be words enough.
The Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Worker of 1970: Three majestic crosses with anchors – symbols of hope – have been erected to commemorate the bloody victims of the workers’ strikes in December 1970. One of the most important postulates of the shipyard workers who went on strike in August 1980
The monument is marked by a poignant inscription by Czesław Miłosz: ‘You who have harmed simple man, mocking him with your laughter, you kill him, someone else will be born, and your deeds and words will be written down’.
Solidarity leader Lech Walesa referred to this enormous steel structure as “a harpoon driven through the body of a whale. No matter how hard the whale struggles, it can never get rid of it.”
The crosses are 42 m high and weigh 140 tons. All official delegations visiting Gdańsk lay flowers at the foot of this monument.
Poland has proven that when united we are strong and can go against the strongest of forces.
So hard to accept that still today there is so many people around the world that doesn’t have their freedom.
This beautiful piece of music has the title “Poland”, by Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds. His first set of Hollywood original motion picture soundtrack for Sam Levinson’s feature film debut ‘Another Happy Day’, starring Ellen Barkin and Demi Moore, 2011.