Spending the summer in Poland has become a ritual for the past few years. This time we decided to take a small detour and visit a city that I have heard a lot about but have never seen until now – sea town Gdansk.
Luckily, the roads are open and there was nothing in our way to get to know this cool place. I will share impressions of Gdansk in a separate blog post. Today, I’d like to write about one special place that I’ve had on my list for a long time. Being a history-curious person, I wanted to visit the famous museum of WWII in Gdansk, Poland.
Finding the museum was not difficult. It is within a walking distance from the historical city center. As we took our foldable bikes, it was easy to reach the museum from the hotel we stayed in. Opening hours are very convenient – from 10 am to 8 pm. I recommend planning at least 3 hours for the shortest tour. The ticket office has very friendly and helpful personnel. For the best experience, consider renting an audioguide – it will make the whole experience much more interesting and you will hear lots of extra information.
The ticket price for the main exhibition is 23Zl (4€). You might get an offer to visit a temporary exhibition as well, but remember that you might not have the energy after the main one. If you get tired after the tour, there is a cafeteria on the ground floor.
The main exhibition
The audioguide tour takes you through all sections, starting from the 30s and all the way to Soviet times. The three main areas are named “The Road to War”, “The Terror of War” and “The Long Shadow of War”. As you progress through the various sections, you will learn the devastating impact the WWII has had on Polish people as well as all of Europe. Not only does it show the horrors of war, but also the cruelty of humans against each other.
I was truly impressed by how well organized and detailed this exhibition was. The war machines and items presented are amazing – from uniforms and weapons to full-size tanks, German fighter airplanes, and even pieces of V2 rocket used for bombing London.
Two rooms were especially impressive – a typical Polish small-town street before the Nazi invasion and after the end of the war. Walking down this imaginary street, looking into the windows of the shops (some of them Jewish) was an almost time travel experience. Entering the same street, now in ruins with a Soviet tank in the middle, was a cruel reminder of what horrible things have happened here only some 75 years ago.
One of the brightest memories I have from that visit is the diary of a little Soviet girl in Leningrad during the blockade, when all of her family died from hunger, one after the other. Her last words were – “Everybody is gone”. Although she was eventually evacuated, she also passed away from a disease 2 years after. The museum visit leaves you with a heavy heart, especially if you care to explore all the exhibits and read the materials presented.
Should you visit the WWII museum in Gdansk?
The short answer is – yes! Even if you are not a big fan of museums, the way this one is organized and designed will not leave you bored. The brilliant audio guide will keep your pace and tell you all you need to know. We spent 3 hours walking through every room and didn’t even read half of the information. Modern technology, light, and visuals make it interesting and engaging even for someone who is not into history.
Our generation owes it to our grandparents to remember the horrors of war, so it never happens again. Poland has suffered tremendously from the war and what came afterwards, so by visiting this great museum you are paying respect to this country and its people.