The “Free City”
The beautiful city of Gdansk (or Danzig in German) played a major role in perhaps two of the most important events of the 20th century in Europe. In 1939, Germany’s invasion of Poland began here, then exploded into World War II. This is also the hometown of the the1980s Solidarity movement, that led to the fall of Communism in Poland and set the groundwork for its eventual collapse in the rest of Eastern Europe.
An important seaport at the Baltic Sea, and situated between former Slavic and Germanic lands, Gdansk has a complex and fascinating Jewish history.The community can be traced back to the 11th century. Working as merchants and traders, the Jews of Gdansk were emancipated in 1812 when the city was part of the Kingdom of Prussia, thus aligning the community with German culture and tradition. Jewish newspapers and political parties thrived.
Hear about how Jewish WW I veterans guarded and saved the Great Synagogue on Kristallnacht or how they organized their own alyah to Palestine. There is a bronze monument to the Kindertransport by Frank Meisler, himself one of the Kindertransport children. One may visit the local Jewish Cemetery, which still retains the original walls and entrance gate and some surviving graves with inscriptions in Polish, German, Russian and Hebrew. The New Synagogue in Wrzeszcz, was built in 1926 and is the sole remaining synagogue in the city today for the small community which celebrates the Baltic Days of Jewish Culture annually.
Enjoy along the way magnificent art and architecture spanning centuries: The Long Street, Town Hall, Neptune Fountain, Artus Court and Long Wharf. Gdansk – a seaport and Hanseatic City, a royal city, sometimes occupied and at times a ‘free city’ – allow our guides to show you its fascinating story through its streets, buildings and monuments.
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