I went to Gdansk in Poland in December 2012. It was cold! I had never been to Poland before, it’s actually the furthest East in Europe I’ve been. We only went for a long weekend and Gdansk was a good choice. It is easily reachable from Leeds/Bradford Airport and the Gdansk old town is very attractive but quite small and you only need a few days to look around.
Gdansk was annexed by Nazi Germany but from 1945 onwards it has been a part of modern Poland, parts of which had been annexed by the Soviet Union. Parts of the city had been destroyed during WW2 and were rebuilt in the 1950s and 60s where Flemish-Dutch, Italian and French influences were emphasized, and German ones suppressed. Gdańsk became the major shipping and industrial center of the Communist People’s Republic of Poland.
There were various anti-soviet demonstrations that led to deaths as the military and police open fired into the crowd, later on the city was put under military law and curfews. In 1980, Gdansk became the birthplace of the Solidarity movement which eventually led to the downfall of the Soviet Union nine years later. Well…that’s what they say in Gdansk, and they’re very proud of it!
Left is the Solidarity monument, there is also a Solidarity Museum which is worth a look. The Museum is actually quote an eye opener if you, like me, know nothing of what like was like for people in the Eastern Bloc countries.(Spoiler: it was awful)