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Thread: Baltic times

  1. #1
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    Jun 2008
    Sunbury Victoria Australia
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    Default Baltic times

    It has been said that travel widens the mind, mine must the becontinuing to expand.
    I have beentravelling for as long as I can remember often the journey being asengaging as the destination.
    For me it is anillness for which there is no cure.

    My latest took me tothe Baltic region, and one port in particular. Gdansk in Poland.
    A place visited backin 2017 where I visited the town on my own, this time though on anorganised tour.
    The tour guide aprofessor of history from the local university and member of thelocal historical society. He told us giving his time once a weekduring the tourist season in an effort to educate people about thehistory in an effort to keep it alive.

    The region ofGadinia/Gdansk was may centuries past was at one time considered tobe a country in it’s own right. Ruled over time by many othersincluding the Teutonic Nights, the Slavic empire and at one timeconsidered to be the ‘property’ of Sweden. It then became part pfPoland which in turn became pat of the Soviet empire.

    An old city of cobbled streets Gdansk is filled with buildings from the 12th, tothe 15th century. Differing styles donated to each era. Onmany above doorways effigies and emblems of the owners.
    One such building atthe city square has two bells, one each side of the main entrance.
    During medievaltimes the bells would chime bringing crowds from all around towitness the days entertainment. Crimes such as infidelity, theft,murder, treason, rape and a number of other crimes would see theperpetrators punished that day.
    The punishmentdepending on the severity of the crime would be with either rope oraxe. The area was known as execution square. Such was theentertainment of the times.

    Many historians ofthe region will say that WW2 began in 1934 when the Nazi regime beganrounding up Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and any other person who didnot fit into their right wing Fascist ideals. Taken then toconcentration camps with some to extermination ones.

    On September 1st1939 the German army marched into Gdansk arresting some 800 informingthem they would be taken to Germany to work on the land or toconcentration camps.
    As a result onSeptember 3rd England declared it was at war with Germany.
    Not long after oneof the first battles took place when a section of the German armyattempted to take over the port, beaten off though by the localforce.
    It is estimated some150 German soldiers died in the battle.
    Recent excavation ofthe area have uncovered bones thought to be of some German soldiers.

    Fast forward toAugust 8th 1945 when Germany surrendered and the lastconcentration camp closed with some 350 guards being taken prisoner.Not long after 11 of them were taken to Gdansk and in executionsquare one at a time hanged for war crimes.
    It is such small notwell known details that the professor told us must be remembered forthe benefit of all.

    In the new part ofthe city there is a building, square in shape, four storeys high witha roof garden overlooking the city. The outer walls covered in whatappears to be rust, but is in fact a form of paint.
    The building is themuseum of the ‘Solidarity Movement’.
    In 1980 LecWelenska, an electrician in the ship yards began a movement to freePoland from the clutches of the Soviet union. A struggle that in1989 brought them independence and freedom.
    A freedom thatEstonia, Latvia and Georgia were to also gain, it precipitated thebeginning of the end of the then Soviet Union.
    The building isfilled with all manner of memorabilia from that period, letters ofsupport from across the globe, photos, videos of interviews, and newsof that time along with thousands of hard hats worn in the shipyards now proudly affixed to the deck heads of the building.

    Lec, still involvedin politics now resides in a large house surrounded by high wirefence, strong front gates and guards.
    He still isconsidered a threat to the socialist ideals.
    Around the citystill remains of WW2 with photos to show how it was then, in the hopesuch will never again occurr.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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  5. #3
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    Jun 2008
    Blue Mountains NSW
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    Default Re: Baltic times

    Hi John
    As per usual mate a good rendition of your Trip, always a pleasure to read your Travel experiences.

    Thanks again Keep Safe
    Senior Site Moderator-Member and Friend of this Website


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    Mar 2010
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    Default Re: Baltic times

    Good post Johnno. I was in Gdansk in 1989 My late wife and I spent 3 weeks traveling around Poland, three days in Gdansk then crossed over into Kaliningrad to enter Russia. There was a tourist office in Kaliningrad where they set us up with a guide/translator and car and driver. We hired them just for one day, then made a cash deal for two days, cheaper for us, better for them. then crossed over into Russia. Wandered around ended up back in West Berlin via East Germany.

    I do enjoy your travel log, it brings back wonderful memories of travel with my beloved late wife,

    Thank you, Rodney
    Last edited by Rodney Mills; 5th August 2023 at 04:43 PM.
    Rodney David Richard Mills
    R602188 Gravesend

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    Nov 2010
    South Shields
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    Spent a week in Gdansk in 2000 on a bridge simulator course for bridge resource management, simulator was 2nd,3rd generation but staff were brilliant. Bleddy cold but smashing place and very nice people. Our hotel was a communist era construction with bad fitting windows that the wind whistled through. There was a night club in the basement full of long legged polish girls who were very friendly.
    Also went to kalingrad in winter to discharge caustic soda. The Baltic fleet depot was just inside the entrance to kalingrad, stuffed full of missile cruisers, all laid up but daily one would be chosen to have to be hooked up to shore steam to keep it semi operational. There was also a fleet of massive hovercrafts capable of carrying a whole tank squad with men and machines. We had a Swedish mate and he was saying that those hovercrafts posed the greatest threat to Sweden during the pre Gorbachev era. Some of the crew went ashore and found the place full of bars, nightclubs and strip joints.

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