Tuesday, September 08, 2009

WWII: Commemoration of the firing of the first shots in Gdansk (Danzig), Poland, 1st September 1939.

I was invited to attend an event at Liverpool Town Hall on September 1st 2009 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the second world war.

I have never studied 20th century history (although have studied from 950AD to 1851AD at various times through my educational career) so I did not really know anything about the outbreak of WWII. I learnt on Monday that it began with the Germans firing on the Post Office in Gdansk, where a handful of hardworking postal workers held off the might of the German army for 12 hours before being forced into the basement which was then set on fire. We saw footage of the event, courtesy of the Gdansk museum, also a wonderful photographic exhibition of the damage caused to the city over the course of the war.

This was complemented by a similar display of Liverpool's war damage, courtesy of the reference library in Central. The event had been organised by Gosia McKane of Merseyside Polonia, in conjunction with Yellow House and was attended by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the leader of Liverpool City Council, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, various leaders of faith groups, the High Consul of Poland and his deputy, (I might have that a bit wrong) and some Polish and English war veterans.

We heard from the young people of Yellow House who were visting Gdansk a month earlier and shared their experiences with us, including a visit to a labour camp nearby.

We were also entertained by a singing group from Manchester who sang old war songs from Poland and England - cue Vera Lynn! It was a really special evening. I sat next to Councillor John Prince who was telling me about his Mum's war experience in a munitions factory and about the children of Bootle being evacuated all the way to Southport, (some Liverpool children ended up in Ruabon where my friend's grandmother lived and from where they could see Liverpool burning at night), and various other interesting stories.

Gosia did a wonderful job and everyone was very sure to give her praise and thanks. I think it is lovely when you have an idea and then with the help of others, see it brought to fruition, for her part Gosia thanked Jean Evans of the Town Hall for all her help and assistance. Well done to you all. A very fitting tribute.


Laurence Sidorczuk said...


Yes, it was a fitting tribute to the countless allied servicemen and women, including civilians, who secured victory against Nazi tyranny during the dark years of WWII. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for protecting the many freedoms which we, often, take for granted. In terms of the guests, he must mean the Consul-General [Mr Piotr Nowotniak] who has visited Liverpool many times from his base in Manchester and is keen to build on the current partnerships within the Polish community in Liverpool. For information, Gosia has posted a link to the proceedings on YouTube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rs1cRfdkHc]. Personally speaking, it was a great honour for me to be invited to speak at the event though you seem to have left me off your list for some reason. Never mind, I forgive you.

Louise Baldock said...

Sorry Laurence, it was not deliberate, I did not have the list to hand, and I forgot the man who did the film about the blitz in Liverpool and the other man who spoke about his war time experiences as well. But it was good all round. I shall check out the You Tube link later.