591 reportage: To live...in memory of shipyard workers

Dusty sockets supply no energy. There are no people or machines. A hollow sound from the wind blowing through a broken window is present.

Instruction manuals warn about non-existing danger. Will it come or is it only the past? Spaces are empty and quiet.

A bird is trying to escape blindly striking at some windows. Unsuccessfully despite many arrows pointing to nowhere.

The elevator looks as if has not been used for ages - it has stopped between the floors, jammed. It hangs in a white space as if there was no gravity.

It's hard to say which floor it is - they all look the same. There are no clocks - time is no longer important. The birds don't need it. Unexpectedly a small tree grows on the roof - hope is mixed with a feeling of despair.

In 1980, Gdańsk was the arena for events that changed the face of the world.

A strike by 17,000 ship builders saw Solidarity (Solidarność), led by shipyard electrician Lech Wałęsa, recognised as the first independant trade union in the Soviet Eastern Bloc. They were fighting for decent working conditions.

A few dozen of them were shot to death.

The move was one of the first successful steps that led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet empire and the regime's oppression of Eastern European countries.

1989 - Poland becomes an independent republic.

1990 - The state-owned Gdańska Stocznia became a joint stock company with 61% in National Treasury shares and 31% owned by employees. In the same year Lech Wałęsa becomes president of the Republic of Poland.

1991 - Soviet Union falls.

Since then Gdansk's shipyard have fallen on hard times. Once a place of work for over 20,000 people is on the edge of bankruptcy today. Some of the workshops are closed and to be demolished soon. Many birds have chosen them to be their homes.

Ironically, the shipyard workers are those who suffered the most after political and economical transformation. Their future is unknown. The city of Gdańsk plans to build a new district named "Youth city" in place of former shipyard terrains. Text and photos © Adam Dymowski

I remember December 1981 protesting outside the Polish Embassy in Stockholm against the martial laws imposed by General Jaruzelski. There were only a few hundred people gathered and I could not help thinking about the Vietnam demonstrations in Stockholm that were attended by tens of thousands of protesters. Was Poland to near? Were we scared of the Kreml regime? I don't know.

It is of great interest to me and hopefully to all of you to see this reportage by Adam Dymowski of Gdansk, Poland. He was born in 1985 and obviously has no direct experience of the strikes at the shipyard and the forming of Solidarność
. Thank you Adam for sharing your experience. - Mr Urbano

SEE the full reportage in 591 Photography Gallery.


br said…
a beautiful tribute to the shipyard workers who led the way to the end of the soviet regime. thanks for posting.
Mikael said…
Fragments of an lost era, maybe it will rise and shine again, time will tell.
A good reportage!
Oskarp Mask said…
Imagine that it's alredy 20-30 years ago! I can sense the wings of history in these pictures.
Anonymous said…
very nice repotage!!
beautiful and a good story !!!
GC said…
fantastic series of images.