The exhibition ‘Gdynia – the open work’ is the Gdynia City Museum’s permanent exhibition devoted to the history of the city and its inhabitants.
The history of Gdynia, like every decent story, has many strands. Some are very important, and some less so; some are clear to see, and some concealed. When Gdynia was first founded, the most important threads were easy to grasp: on the one hand, the dream of a modern, dynamic Poland, boldly gazing into the future, and on the other, a romantic patriotism rooted in the history of the nation. The modernisation efforts of a young nation that desired to make up for its late civilisational development therefore coincided with a need to serve the homeland. Without this convergence of desires and needs there would be no Gdynia, a grand Baltic port would never have been built from scratch, nor would a city have grown with “American” speed to soon become an object of universal pride.
All of this was brutally interrupted by the German invasion in September 1939. The Gdynians discovered that they were to be the first victims of a cruel war – murdered, driven out and exploited as forced labourers. The end of the war did not bring the expected revival in their fortunes. For Communism destroyed what was the essence of the Gdynians’ spirit – their enterprise, right to own their homes and their freedom to take their fate into their own hands. The Gdynians clamoured for freedom in dramatic fashion: in Gdynia in 1970, the city’s streets flowed with the blood of workers protesting against the communist authorities; in August 1980, Gdynia became one of the most important centres in Poland of resistance against the injustices of the system.
Nevertheless, in the shadow of great historical and social processes, life went on as normal. Male and female Gdynians completed their education at Gdynia’s schools, married in Gdynia’s churches, buried their dead in Gdynia’s cemeteries, cared for Gdynia’s tenement houses, travelled to their jobs in the docks on Gdynia’s trolleybuses, shopped in Gdynia’s covered market, sailed from Gdynia, and returned.
Without all of this, there would be no history of Gdynia. The life of Gdynia, the lives of Gdynians, are of their own making, and still in the making…
The Gdynia City Museum
1 Zawiszy Czarnego Street, Gdynia
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