Roads to freedom

My father used to mention that he visited Danzig 1934. I remember it because I believe the point was that he hadn’t been abroad much before the war. In Denmarkof course since he grew up in Skåne. And additionally in Danzig.

I did not ask him anything more. I should have. Then I would be able to compare. His impressions to mine  – from the city of Gdansk of 2012. My wife Karin and I were there for an official visit earlier this week.

But I believe he liked the atmosphere of history, because that was his profession. Research in history. Teaching teachers to teach history.

In Gdansk history is present everywhere. The history of past centuries when Swedenwas present in a less peaceful way than today, to say the least. But a peace was finally signed 1660 in the remarkable Oliwa cathedral outside the city centre.

320 years later modern history was made at the shipyard when Solidarność was born.

One of the most memorable moments during these three days was our visit to the “Drogi do wolności”-exhibition. Roads to freedom.

It is located just outside the shipyard-area where history turned in a new direction 32 years ago. Polish history for sure but European history as well. Liberation of Central and Eastern Europe started there and then. With roots back to the tragic events 10 years earlier when 45 people were killed and over 1000 injured along the Polish coast – just because of their protests against an oppressing regime.

We laid down a wreath at the monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers. A monument that was raised during those transformative days of late summer 1980. Afterwards we also paid a visit to the European Centre of Solidarity rather recently established and symbolically located within the shipyard area.  

Now the tricity area of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia has turned into a close neighbour of Sweden. Of course that has always been the case geographically. But after the transformation it is now the case also from a psychological and commercial point of view.

The ferry lines of the whole Baltic Sea coast has the capacity to bring 6000 Swedes to Poland every day. The relations with counties like Blekinge and Kalmar are close. Several companies like IKEA and Scania but also smaller ones are already present. The marshal of Pomerania region showed me a list of 21 ongoing cooperation projects, most often implemented in a broader European context. And the Polish- Swedish chamber of commerce and the Swedish Honorary Consulate (with our consul Tadeusz Iwanowski as key person in both) are important actors in the process of making close relations even closer.

I believe they could be and should be.

I take all opportunities I can get to meet Polish students studying Swedish. There are 80 of them in Gdansk. Learning a lot and being a great resource for the interaction between our countries.

But in Gdansk you can meet Swedish students as well. Over 400 Swedes are studying at the Medical University. Doing very well and as it seemed from the representatives we met enjoying their studies and the city.

Gdansk is certainly a place where history was made but also where future is shapen.

Progress is visible everywhere, not only through the beautiful, yes I mean beautiful, new football  stadium.

More Swedes should go there much more often than we do.







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