Where WW2 began
Poland Day 24. I didn’t have an advance plan for what I’d do but after a bit of research the night before, it was obvious. To round out one of the themes underpinning my trip, I’d use my last day in Gdańsk to see the place where WW2 began.
Westerplatte is a peninsula on the Gulf of Gdańsk at the southern end of the Baltic Sea which had housed a modest Polish military coastal defense base. It was here at 4.45am on 1 September 1939 that Hitler’s invasion of Poland began. The Battle of Westerplatte is widely (though not unanimously) agreed to be when WW2 started.
There were a few ferry options which would also let me see Gdańsk from the water. I picked one that seemed the most direct and arrived for the first service to find it had been cancelled. I decided to kick around for an hour until the next sailing as a spontaneous cunning plan hatched to use the time to investigate the southern end of Granary Island.
As mentioned a few posts ago, Granary Island (the body of land on the other side of the river) was once packed with granaries that provided grain to 200 ships each day. It’s not a big land mass by any means so it’s hard to envisage how this part of the city was then. Only one building survived WW2 with about 20 rebuilt since then.
A few more people were lurking at the ferry so there was no doubt that it would be operating this time. We all found spots on the outside deck and sat with cameras poised. It took about 50 minutes to get to Westerplatte and it was incredibly interesting having a close-up look at the port and shipping operations along the river. Commentary was offered in Polish and German so I understood approximately four words.
I jumped off and got going, finding what would have been an information trail had most of the glass signs not been vandalised.
The return trip was quicker and I grabbed a late lunch before my final expedition. Not far away was another significant site in Poland’s history, a place very symbolic to the solidarity movement which rose up against the communist regime.
It was now late afternoon and I had run out of steam. There was nothing else for it but to return to base and make use of the minibar.
Just one more day left in Poland.
Distance walked: 13.39km