Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

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Adam Carr
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:49

This photo is taken from the east bank of the Nowa Motława, looking north-westwards towards Granary Island. In the foreground are the pylons of the Mattenbuden Bridge (Mattenbudenbrücke), which linked Münchengasse (Ulica Żytnia) with the mainland suburb of Mattenbuden. The bridge was destroyed in 1945 and has never been rebuilt. In the background is the Milk Cans Bridge (Most Stągiewny, Milchkannenbrücke). The round stone tower is the Milk Cans Tower (Stągiewna, Milchkannenturm), so called because it looks like a milk can.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:49

On Ulica Lastadia (Lastadie Strasse: the only street I saw in Gdańsk which has retained its prewar name) is the Marie Curie Secondary School for the Food and Chemical Industries (Zespół Szkół Przemysłu Spożywczego i Chemicznego im. Marii Skłodowskiej Curie). This was formerly the Städtisches Gymnasium Danzig (Danzig City School), also known as the Akademisches Gymnasium Danzig (Danzig Academic School), one of the best-known schools in Prussia.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:50

As this Latin plaque records, the school was founded in 1837, and its magnificent building was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, now revered as the greatest of all German architects. To my knowledge this is one of only three surviving Schinkel buildings now in Poland: the others being Schloss Owinsk (Pałac w Owińskach) in Poznań (Posen) and the Rathaus in Kołobrzeg (Kolberg).
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:51

The school is one of many in Poland named in honour of Marie Curie (1867-1934), born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw, the discoverer of radioactivity and a great scientist of whom Poland is justly proud. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobels in different disciplines (chemistry and physics). So far as I know she had no connection with Gdańsk, although she did live for a time at Sopot (Zoppot) on the Baltic coast nearby.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:52

In Ulica Osiek (Hakelwerk) is the Gdansk Autonomous School (Gdańskie Szkoły Autonomiczne, before 1945 the Hakelwerk-Schule), which in 1989 became the first school in Poland to break away from the communist-controlled state education system. It’s now regarded as one of Poland’s best schools, and is twinned with schools in the USA and Germany. Its status is hard to guess from the rather shabby state of its elegant prewar building.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:53

This sign records that the school is being partly financed by the Foundation for Polish-German Co-operation (Fundacja Współpracy Polsko-Niemieckiej, Stiftung für deutsch-polnische Zusammenarbeit). Signs like this are common in Poland. Since Poland joined the EU it has become the recipient of a great deal of German investment and assistance.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:53

In Ulica Kładki (Holzgasse) is another well-known school, today housing the Faculty of Biotechnology of the University of Gdańsk. This was the Victoriaschule, a girls’ school opened in 1883 and named in honour of Victoria, Empress Friedrich (Kaiserin Friedrich) – daughter of Queen Victoria, wife of Kaiser Friedrich III and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:54

Above the main entrance are three roundels, showing (from left) the coat of arms of Danzig, a Roman-style portrait of the Empress Friedrich, and the date 1883.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:55

When the Germans seized Danzig in 1939, the Victoriaschule was used as a temporary prison, with up to 3,000 Poles imprisoned, and many tortured and killed. The survivors were eventually sent to the concentration camp at Stutthof (Sztutowo), east of Gdańsk. The plaque reads: “In memory of the Polish heroes who in September 1939 were dragged from their homes by the Hitlerites to the building then called the Victoriaschule, where they were tortured and martyred.”
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:55

Near the Victoriaschule is the Gdańsk National Museum (Muzeum Narodowe), formerly the Danzig City Museum (Stadt Museum). The museum is on Ulica Rzeźnicka, formerly Fleischer Gasse: both Rzeźnik and Fleischer mean “butcher”.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:56

When the Free City of Danzig was established as part of the settlement after World War I, Poland was authorised to establish a post office on sovereign Polish territory within the largely German-speaking city. The Polish government took the opportunity to build a large fortress-like building in Heveliusplatz, now called Defenders of the Polish Post Office Square (Plac Obrońców Poczty Polskiej). As well as being a post office, the building was the headquarters of Polish intelligence in the city.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:57

Before the German attack on 1 September 1939, the Polish government reinforced the postal workers with Army reserve officers and laid in a store of weapons. The plan was to defend the building long enough for Polish troops to arrive to relieve it. Instead, the 57 defenders held out against the German Army for 15 hours before surrendering after running out of ammunition. The survivors were then summarily shot by the Germans, who did not recognise them as combatants.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:58

After the war, the defenders of the Polish Post Office were posthumously awarded Poland’s highest military honour, the Virtuti Militari, and this monument was erected in their memory. The building is now used as a museum of posts and telecommunications, but it was closed and silent when I was there.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:58

A representation of the Virtuti Militari on the memorial outside the Post Office.
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Re: Germany’s lost cities : a tour of Gdańsk (Danzig)

Post by Adam Carr » 22 Mar 2012 11:59

Whether under German or Polish rule, Gdańsk has always had a strong military presence, and there are a number of former German military barracks (Kasernen) around the city. To the south is the Kaserne am Weissen Turm (White Tower Barracks) on Ulica Jana Augustyńskiego (Am Weisser Turm).
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