Saturday, 14 March 2015
Ihab Anwar: A Short History of Gdansk, Poland
Amongst the many places visited by Ihab Anwar during the Fall 2014 Semester at Sea opportunity was Gdansk, Poland, the birthplace of Poland’s solidarity movement, a revolutionary worker’s union created in the early to mid-1980s. One of the first stops on the Semester at Sea tour, Gdansk offered both Anwar and his fellow students a glimpse into a city, and region, which has struggled with much strife and upheaval throughout the 20th century.
A studious note-taker, Ihab Anwar paid close attention to lectures Tour Director ‘Mr. Lodge’ delivered during the group’s short journey through Gandsk, which provided everyone involved the opportunity to experience city, and people, admired for their resilience and resistance over the last 100 years. Gdansk, as was explained to the group, was once dominated by the Hanseatics and Prussians, who controlled what was one of the most important and strategic ports in the Baltic region. Once known as Danzig, Gdansk was nearly completely destroyed by bombing raids near the end of WWII. Though the city has since been rebuilt, remnants of the war continue to be visible throughout much of the surrounding region.
Ihab Anwar and his ‘shipmates’ were guided through Gdasnsk’s historical quarter during their brief visit, which, to Anwar at least, was like “walking back through time.” They were then lead to one of the city’s medieval merchant settlements, which, as Mr. Lodge put it, “serves as a powerful reminder of the just how powerful both the city, and the region, were in terms of Eastern European trade throughout much of the last thousand years.
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