Builders find message in a bottle hidden in Gdańsk train station wall
A message in a bottle which makes reference to anti-communist demonstrations in 1970 has been found by builders at Gdańsk Central Train Station.
The handwritten note on the back of a blank postal telegram was discovered hidden inside a wall cavity by bricklayers working on the modernisation of the station.
Written in 1971, after strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk led to a massive police and military clampdown with thousands of protestors being injured, hundreds of others arrested and over 40 dead, the note refers to the rebuilding of the main train station, which had also come under attack.
Penned the following month, the note read: “The building was burnt down on December 14th during strikes by the Gdansk Shipyard.
“Renovations were carried out by a brigade from the Gdansk Company of Elevation Works.
“Dated: Gdansk January 1971.”
Maciej Małecki, the Secretary of State for the Ministry of State Assets said: “The telegram which was found describes events of the anti-Communist uprising of Polish workers from the coast.
“The workers of the Tri-City had the courage to stand up for their dignity, for bread and for a free Poland.
“Today, by uncovering new information from that time, we add another ‘brick to our knowledge of the uprising and communist times.
“Poland’s railway stations hide many more secrets about the past. It’s great that PKP takes care of these elements of history, these ‘bricks’, telling the history of Poland as well as connecting them with modern solutions which fulfil the needs of passengers and increase the comfort of travelling.”
Krzysztof Mamiński, president of Polish State Railways group, added: “The discovery of the bottle with the note remembering December 1970, on the 50th anniversary of those tragic events, is further testament to the fact that railways stations, similarly to castle, palaces or forts, are also silent witnesses to history, and in this case, the country’s newer history, which changed the fate of Poland."
The wave of strikes were triggered by a massive hike in food prices just days ahead of Christmas as the economy continued to slump leading to a lack of everyday goods.
The brutal putdown led to a larger uprising against the Communist authorities.
Combined with earlier and later events, the strikes were the catalyst for the formation of Solidarity.
The new renovations at Gdańsk Central Station, which will see the restoration of many unique architectural details including cartouches of coats of arms of Polish coastal cities, old shop and cash desk fronts as well as historic stained glass windows, is worth over 100 million PLN and is Polish State Railway’s (PKP) biggest investment for the years 2016-2023.
The President of the Polish State Railways group said: “We are treating the modernisation of the Gdańsk Central Train Station with full diligence, understanding that the building is not only a public service building, but also an architectural pearl which serves as a visiting card for Gdańsk and is one of its ‘gates’.”
This article was sponsored by PKP.