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Westerplatte eduactional path

The educational trail on Westerplatte was opened in June 2011. It complements the open-air exhibition "Westerplatte: a Spa – a Bastion – a Symbol", focusing the attention of visitors on the architecture and topography of the area.

Location: WESTERPLATTE

SIGHTSEEING TIME  MIN. 3 HOURS

Admission free

Information boards have been placed along the path, the purpose of which is to familiarize visitors with what the peninsula looked like during the September fighting. The trail is also a guide to the facilities of the former Military Transit Depot, which operated on the peninsula between 1926–1939, and is designed to make it easier for visitors to explore the area on their own. The boards contain historical photos, sketches and maps. All information is provided in Polish and English.

Resort

As early as the mid-nineteenth century, the first summer houses began to be built on Westerplatte, and there was also an inn where guests could not only eat meals, but also spend the night. Until the 1880s, Westerplatte was a rather quiet settlement with a recreational character and a bathing area, with more and more buildings and visitors each year. The intensive development of Westerplatte took place in the last two decades of the 19th century, when its appearance and character changed significantly. The former small bathing beach of local importance turned into a health spa resort visited annually by almost 140,000 guests.
This transformation was carried out by the Gdańsk shipping company, the Steam Shipping and Bathing Beach Company "Wisła" (Weichsel-Danziger Dampfschiffahrt und See-Bad Actien Gesellschaft), which built on Westerplatte a 120-meter-long pedestrian pier with a marina for cruise ships (called the Kaisersteg - Imperial Pier), baths for ladies, gentlemen and families, a spa house with a restaurant, a beach hall, hotel, spa treatment facilities, tennis courts and a bowling alley.

Rest and treatment

The beaches on Westerplatte in the summer season began to fill up with a multilingual, colorful crowd of guests coming from various corners of the German Reich, the Kingdom of Poland, but also residents of Gdańsk itself. They bathed in separate bathing areas for ladies, gentlemen and families, and rested in beach basket chairs after their baths.

In a short time, Westerplatte turned into a spa resort whose charms could be enjoyed all year round. Not only sea baths were in use here, but also therapeutic baths: brine, peat, sulphate, and sitting. Visitors to the resort could also, apart from the sea and therapeutic baths, spend their time walking or having horse-drawn carriage rides along the promenades and pathways marked out within the forest which grows on the peninsula all the way to Wisłoujście.
 

Gloomy neighborhood

However, these idyllic landscapes were sometimes disturbed during these walks by views not associated with rest and recreation. Structures of ammunition shelters and coastal artillery positions, covered with layers of earth, were clearly visible, which were built on Westerplatte practically simultaneously at the same time as the spa and resort buildings. While walking towards the port canal, one could even find the remains of ramparts from the second half of the 18th century, built on the orders of Frederick the Great, and expanded in the Napoleonic period as well as in the mid-19th century.
 

Twilight period of the resort

The first sign of the upcoming changes for the spa resort on Westerplatte was a decrease in the number of guests during the First World War. The uncertain political situation that developed around Gdańsk after the end of hostilities was also not conducive to mass tourism  to the Baltic Sea areas. The best years of the resort were slowly passing, and it gradually turned into a more local bathing area. In 1919, the Polish Bank of the Union of Profit Companies from Poznań became the owner of a part of the territory. Finally, the history of the location as a spa resort ended with the resolution of the League of Nations Council in 1924, granting the area of the Westerplatte peninsula to Poland in order to create a Military Transit Depot there.
© Museum of the Second World War; Authors: Bartłomiej Garba, Marcin Westphal

Bastion

Free City of Gdańsk

After the end of World War I, the Paris Peace Conference that was held from January 1919 established the Free City of Gdańsk. Its functioning was formally regulated by the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, and under the provisions of the treaty, the protectorate over the resulting Free City was exercised by the League of Nations. The convention which regulated the rights of Poland in the Free City in detail guaranteed the Republic of Poland the right to a free zone in the port of Gdańsk, while the entire Free City was covered by the Polish customs border. Poland was guaranteed the right to use the waterways, port, port facilities, rail network, post office, telephones and telegraphs, enabling the proper functioning of the country's commercial services through the port of Gdańsk. The guarantees also included respect for the civil rights of the Polish population. Under the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, Poland gained access to the port of the Free City of Gdańsk.

Polish guard unit

During the Polish-Bolshevik war, Poland received supplies of military equipment from France, Great Britain and the United States. Transportation was carried out by rail and by sea through Gdańsk. In July and August 1920, there was a strike by German port workers who refused to unload shipments of weapons.
In the light of these events, the Polish side launched a diplomatic offence and obtained the consent of Reginald Tower, the representative of the League of Nations in Gdańsk, and the commander of the allied forces, Richard Hacking, to bring a Polish military unit to Gdańsk to protect shipments of weapons for Poland. The unit arrived in Gdańsk in September 1920, numbering 60 soldiers, and was placed in the old barracks in Nowy Port. This fact met with opposition from the Gdańsk authorities.
On June 22nd, 1921, the League of Nations recognized the right of Poland to have a special place in Gdańsk for the handling of military materials and to maintain a small guard detachment to protect the area. However, the location of the future transhipment site had not yet been specified. Determining the location for the Polish transhipment depot encountered many difficulties. Reginald Hacking, the Commissioner of the League of Nations in Gdańsk, in April 1922 decided to locate the Polish military depot on the Westerplatte peninsula. To facilitate handling, Hacking recommended building a harbor basin. The construction costs were to be borne by the Polish authorities and the Free City of Gdańsk. This decision met with the disapproval of the Polish and Gdańsk authorities.

The choice: Westerplatte

As a result of the lack of agreement, in December 1922, the Council of the League of Nations established a survey committee whose task was to find a location for a Polish military depot in Gdańsk. After analyzing all of the probable locations, it was concluded that the Westerplatte peninsula was the best place for a Polish military depot. On this basis, in March 1924, the Council of the League of Nations adopted a resolution to hand over the Westerplatte peninsula to Poland, intended as a place of transhipment, storage and shipment of military materials. The Port and Waterways Council was responsible for building a reloading basin and a railway line.

Liquidation of the spa resort

Westerplatte had so far been inhabited by the local population, as well as Polish officials who temporarily occupied premises belonging to the Polish government. Westerplatte also functioned as a city bathing beach with a few guesthouses that were a remnant of the spa resort. Due to this situation, the date of transferring the peninsula to the Polish authorities, set for March 1925, was unrealistic. The whole undertaking was criticized by some of the inhabitants of Gdańsk, who were against the liquidation of the bathing beach and the construction of a depot, which, in their opinion, posed a threat to the city.

Preparations for the construction of the depot

Rear Admiral Jerzy Zwierkowski was appointed general representative for the construction of the depot. The priority was to build a new harbor basin and storehouses for weapons, ammunition and explosives. Some houses were to become barracks for a guard detachment, others were intended for demolition.
The western part of the peninsula was chosen as the location of the ammunition basin. Despite  difficulties related to delays in the delivery of building materials, the construction was completed in November 1925. It was 10 m deep, the south-west quay was 300 m long, the south-east quay was about 150 m, and the north-east was 500 m, and 6 port cranes were installed along the quays . In January 1926, the construction of the railway line leading to the depot was completed, with the port basin and ammunition storage connected to it. A total of 19 ammunition shelters and 3 warehouses were built.

Transfer of the Westerplatte area to Poland

In October 1925, the Port and Waterways Council decided to define the border of the Polish depot at Westerplatte. It ran along the port canal (excluding the wharf, which was under the control of the Port and Waterways Council in Gdańsk), to the base of the eastern entrance pier to the Gdańsk port. From here, further along the Gdańsk Bay beach the border crossed the base of the peninsula at the point of the Five Whistles Turn. The area within the above-mentioned limits was 60 hectares in size and had a circumference of 3.5 km. Poland received Westerplatte on a perpetual lease on October 31st, 1925.

The Polish government was not allowed to build any fortification objects in the depot. The area was supposed to be inaccessible to outsiders, only a valid pass could allow access to the depot. A maximum of 88 Polish soldiers, including 2 officers, 20 non-commissioned officers and 66 privates, could stay at the depot. The first guard unit arrived at Westerplatte in January 1926. After the site was taken over by the Polish authorities, the infrastructure was further developed. A railway station, an artesian well, a transformer station and a power plant were built. A telephone line was established from the Polish Post Office in Gdańsk, and telephones were installed in all of the facilities and posts. From the side of the port canal, the area of the depot was fenced off with a 2 m high brick wall.

The growing importance of the National Socialists in Gdańsk from 1930

In the first years of its operation in the Free City, the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) was very weak and did not enjoy the support of the inhabitants of Gdańsk. Then, on Hitler's order, Albert Forster, who became the party's gauleiter in the Free City of Gdańsk, came to Gdańsk. His task was to strengthen the political position of the NSDAP. It did not take long for the results of his work to be noticed, as by October 1930, in the elections to the Volkstag,  the NSDAP won 12 seats and became the second political force.

Courtesy visits of ships of the German Navy in Gdańsk

In July 1927, the German warship "Hessen" arrived in Gdansk. It was the first German military unit to sail to the port of Gdansk since the establishment of the Free City of Gdansk. The visit was official, the authorities and the

German population of Gdańsk welcomed the ship with great joy.

In the following years, German warships repeatedly visited the port of Gdańsk. In 1930, the German cruiser "Köln" visited the port of Gdansk. In the period from 1934 to 1937, the training ship "Deutschland", the heavy cruiser "Admiral Scheer" and the cruiser "Leipzig" called to Gdańsk. The visits of German units were warmly welcomed by the Gdańsk authorities and a spontaneous reaction from the German inhabitants of the city. Their visits also served as a political demonstration of intent by Germany towards the Gdańsk issue.

Development of defense facilities

In the summer of 1933, the command of the Polish Armed Forces decided to build guard buildings and barracks on the premises of the depot. The new barracks and guardhouses were to create a defensive ring and protect the warehouse unit against attack. Construction work began in 1933 and was completed in 1936. The entire project was classified. A modern defense system was created, the effectiveness of which was confirmed by subsequent future events.

Military service in the Military Storehouse on Westerplatte in the period 1934-1936 was relatively quiet. The attitude of the city authorities towards the military unit, as well as the relationship between the soldiers and the inhabitants of Gdańsk was acceptable. There were no acts of violence.


Westerplatte on alert

In the spring of 1939, in the face of the impending confrontation, a state of emergency was declared at the Military Transit Depot and preparations for its defense began. An alarm system in the event of an attack was introduced, there was complete darkening of the area at night, detailed control of trains entering the depot, fire stations were rearmed, telephone lines were checked, barbed wire entanglements were set up, and excess trees were removed from the lines of machine gun fire.

Visit of the "Schleswig-Holstein" ship in Gdańsk.

Under the pretext of a courtesy visit, on August 25, 1939, the ship "Schleswig-Holstein" entered the port of Gdansk . She was greeted by the German inhabitants of the city with great euphoria. The ship was moored near Granary Solne, directly opposite Westerplatte. The commanding officers of the ship took part in ceremonies commemorating the fallen sailors from the cruiser "Magdeburg". Official meetings took place with the Gdańsk authorities, as well as with the representatives of the Polish authorities. Nothing yet indicated the true purpose of the German military unit's visit.

The "Schleswig-Holstein" was a training unit, the basic armament of which consisted of heavy 280 mm guns (4 guns), and additionally it had medium artillery with a caliber of 150 mm (10 guns) and reinforced 88 mm anti-aircraft artillery (4 guns). There were 596 crew, 175 cadets and 60 soldiers crewing the aforementioned anti-aircraft artilleries on the ship. Below the deck of the battleship, there was an Assault Company of 225 soldiers, which had taken part in the capture of Klaipeda, and was posted to the battleship during the cruise to Gdańsk.
The visit of the "Schleswig-Holstein" was prolonged under the pretext of refueling, which caused concern to the Polish authorities. There was also a tense atmosphere among the Westerplatte unit. The actions of the Gdańsk troops and the ship's crew left no illusions, the squad at the Military Transit Depot at Westerplatte was facing an imminent attack.

The Defense of Westerplatte

War

On Friday, September 1st, 1939, before sunrise, at 4.47 am, Commander Gustav Kleikamp, commander of the ship "Schleswig-Holstein", anchored in the port channel at the Wisłoujście Fortress, gave the order to fire from the main, medium and light artillery guns of the ship on  the Military Transit Depot at Westerplatte. As soon as the first salvos of the ship's guns sounded, a moment later 20 mm anti-aircraft guns joined the fire. The shells fell on the south-eastern part of the peninsula. The aim of the 7-minute cannonade was to destroy part of the wall of the repository, which in this section was an obstacle for the attacking Kriegsmarine Assault Company, commanded by Lieutenant Wilhelm Henningsen. Machine guns, previously located on the other side of the port canal, opposite Westerplatte, also started firing at the depot.

Repulsed attackThe troops at the depot, despite their maintained combat readiness, were partially surprised by the violent and very strong German fire. Major Henryk Sucharski ordered announcement of a combat alert. The soldiers hurriedly manned their prepared defensive positions. When the German infantry launched an attack shortly after the end of the shelling, the Polish defenders were already at their posts. The main point of the attack, starting from the base of the peninsula, was absorbed by the  "Fort", "Prom" and "Wał" posts, as well as by Guardhouse No. 2. The remaining Polish points of resistance were not in the main direction of the German attack. However, they were fired upon by enemy heavy machine guns, located in buildings on the other side of the port canal, in Nowy Port.

The effective, flanking fire of Polish heavy and small machine guns, later supported by mortars, inflicted heavy losses on the advancing German platoons. The Germans had many wounded and killed and despite repeated heavy artillery support from the battleship "Schleswig-Holstein", they were unable to break the Polish defense line and were forced to withdraw back to their starting positions. That same day, at 8.55 am, the Germans launched another assault - this time, however, they were more cautious, and they advanced more slowly, making better use of the field covers. This did not protect them from losses - the attack was halted under the fire of machine guns in Guardhouse No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5, as well as the outposts: "Wał", "Fort" and "Sergeant Deik". The German troops retreated again and dug in at the point of the Mew's Lair.

Balance on the first days the first day of the defense came to an end, the Polish soldiers did not succumb to the enemy, which was overwhelming in every respect. Although they suffered losses (4 killed and 4 wounded) and withdrew from the "Wał" and "Prom" outposts, as well as losing the only 75 mm cannon damaged as a result of shelling from the "Schleswig-Holstein" and the machine guns from Nowy Port, however, they had fulfilled their most important task. They had held out for 12 hours, and although tired, were capable of fighting until the imminent – so they thought - relief. The German losses most likely amounted to 16 killed and 120 wounded soldiers, which constituted over 50% of the storming company.

Bombardment

The second day of the defense started calmly on Westerplatte. There was no sign that it would be the day of the toughest trials for the Depot defenders. It was only around noon that the on-board artillery guns of the battleship "Schleswig-Holstein" came into action once again, but not against Westerplatte, but against Polish positions in the vicinity of Gdynia. Polish soldiers, taking advantage of the longer period of peace, cleaned and repaired their weapons. Some of them were able to eat a hot meal, which was served in the barracks, and those who were not on duty at the battle stations could get some sleep. The staff of the Guardhouse and outposts were on watch all day, but did not notice the evacuation of part of the civilian population from Nowy Port before 3 p.m. This was to be the silence before the storm, as the Germans were preparing a bombing raid on the Polish defensive positions. At 17.30, 58 Junkers Ju-87B dive bombers took off from an airport near Słupsk. The planes were noticed by the defenders of the Storehouse at around 6 pm. After a while, the aircraft, one after another, descended into a diving flight, launching an attack from a height of about 4,000 meters. The Polish soldiers had to find protection in air raid shelters that had been prepared near their combat outposts.

Bombing of the Barracks and Guardhouse No. 5

The first object attacked by bombers, initially unsuccessfully, were the barracks, but the next bombs proved to be accurate. The rooms on the upper storeys of the barracks were heavily destroyed, however, the structure of the entire building was not seriously damaged.

Guardhouse No. 5 received direct hits of two 50 kg bombs, and the facility was completely destroyed. Out of the entire guardhouse defenders, only two soldiers survived although with serious wounds. The water supply system and the kitchen were also damaged. From then on, the soldiers felt the shortage of water very acutely, due to the subsequent inability to prepare hot meals, which meant only remained uncooked lunches.

As a result of the approximately 30-minute air raid, 10 defenders of the repository were killed and 6 were injured. The psychological effect of this was equally serious. For the majority of Polish soldiers the attack had been a very strong and paralyzing experience, some of them in the first moments after the raid were unable to fight. The repository defense system was weakened and disorganized. If the Germans had commenced an assault then, the Westerplatte troops would have been in a very difficult position. The attack, however, did not take place that day.
Expecting a German attack, Major Sucharski ordered codes and other important documentation to be burned, and then decided to surrender the depot. The decision to surrender during a quasi-war conference met with strong opposition from Capt. Franciszek Dąbrowski. Eventually, the resistance continued. The night of September 2nd/3rd passed quietly, the troops remained in their positions, and the shock of the first raids slowly faded away.

War of nerves. September 3rd - 6th

For days, the defending troops had to mainly stick to maintaining their positions, under periodically strong enemy fire. During that time, the Germans strengthened their forces. A brief exchange of machine gun fire at Westerplatte took place only on September 3rd during the night. On September 4th, in the early morning hours, a T-196 torpedo boat started shelling Westerplatte from the Gulf of Gdańsk, later the minesweeper Von der Groeben joined in the assault. This cannonade, although a problem for the defenders, did not cause any serious damage. Also on that day, German heavy mortars took up positions near the Wisłoujście Fortress. The day of September 5th began quietly, but at 9 o'clock, further fire opened up towards Westerplatte by a battery of 105 mm howitzers from the vicinity of Wisłoujście. This did not cause major damage or any losses among the defenders, but it was very exhausting for the by now very tired Polish soldiers. The doctor at the depot, Captain Mieczysław Suffy could do nothing to heal the wounded. And due to the lack of water, appropriate surgical instruments and medications, the injured could not be operated on, and there was a fear that they would develop gangrene.

On the night of September 5th-6th, the Germans attempted to set fire to the forest on Westerplatte, which made it difficult for them to observe and aim, and effectively masked the Polish positions. In order to start the fire, they rolled a tanker with a flammable substance onto the peninsula, with the intention of blowing it up near the Polish defense lines. However, either a Polish hit, or a German mistake, led to a premature explosion near the German trenches, and the fire caused by it was quickly extinguished. September 6th began with systematic fire from heavy mortars from the direction of Wisłoujście. It was not very effective, although one mortar shell exploded near Guardhouse No. 2, damaging it, but this  did not cause any casualties. One person was injured in the barracks building. After 3 p.m., the Germans made another attempt to set the forest on fire, this time rolling two cisterns filled with a flammable substance on Westerplatte. The defenders were not surprised and opened fire on them with heavy machine guns and anti-tank guns. The cisterns exploded, causing a violent fire, which, however, quickly died out, not bringing the effect wanted by the attackers. During evening and night, Westerplatte remained quiet.

Last stand

On the morning of September 7th, at around 4.30 am, the "Schleswig-Holstein" ship opened fire on Westerplatte again, and a moment later heavy machine guns were fired from the upper floors of the buildings in Nowy Port. At 5.00 am, the German infantry, advancing cautiously forward, made a reconnaissance of the Polish positions. The Germans were stopped by fire from Guardhouse numbers 1 and 2, as well as from the "Fort", Bieniasz and Deika outposts. In order to support its own troops, the "Schleswig-Holstein" directed the fire of its guns at Guardhouse No. 2, damaging it very seriously and excluding it from any further combat. At around 7.00 am, the Germans began to withdraw, protected by the fire of anti-aircraft guns from the ship "Schleswig-Holstein". After the departure of their infantry, the Germans yet again, also unsuccessfully, tried to set fire to the forest with a cistern filled with oil.

Capitulation

The situation of the Depot's defenders was very difficult. Guardhouses No. 2 and 5 no longer functioned as part of the defense system, Guardhouses No. 1 and 4 were damaged, there were more and more wounded, and the condition of those who had been wounded earlier was desperate. There was a shortage of water, medicine and dressings. Major Sucharski decided to surrender, a white flag was hung in the window of the barracks building. Part of the Westerplatte troops gathered in front of the barracks for the last assembly, and then were taken into captivity. All Polish soldiers capable of walking were escorted to the vicinity of Mew's Lair, where they were searched and their data was recorded. The wounded were taken by the Germans to hospitals in Gdańsk. The German command, fearing that individual facilities and the area of  the depot were mined by the defenders, demanded that the Poles hand  them over personally. Later, the Polish officers were transported to the Central Hotel, and non-commissioned officers and privates to a temporary prison in the Biskupia Górka's castle. The officers were taken to the Oflags (camps for officers) on September 10th, and the rest of the troops were taken to the stalags on September 12th.

During the heroic defense of the Military Transit Depot at Westerplatte, 15 Polish soldiers were killed and 26 were wounded, although it is possible that there were more. The number of killed soldiers on the German side is estimated at 50 soldiers, the wounded is estimated at 121. However, in this case, these data are also unconfirmed. It is estimated that there were approximately 2,700 Germans involved in all of the formations attacking Westerplatte (including soldiers, sailors, policemen).

Hitler in Gdańsk and Westerplatte

On September 19th, 1939, Adolf Hitler visited Gdańsk. During his triumphal journey through the city, he was greeted by its inhabitants. On September 21st, Hitler visited the Westerplatte area. He wanted to see for himself what the "fortress" looked like, which for 7 days had resisted a battleship, infantry troops, dive bomber raids and heavy howitzers and mortars. After getting acquainted with the fortifications and the grounds of the Military Transit Depot, Hitler walked along the quay where the "Schleswig-Holstein" was moored, greeting the seamen gathered on board the ship from a distance. In the following days, Hitler visited Sopot and Gdynia.
Walki and Westerplatte in 1945

Westerplatte once again became a theater of military operations just before the end of the war. During the fighting in the spring of 1945, one of the German defense lines in Gdańsk (Festung Danzig) was based on the Vistula River, from Westerplatte through Ostrów and Nowa Motława. All of these defense points (Westerplatte, Wisłoujście Fortress and a chemical plant) were provisionally prepared and manned with the remnants of the forces taking part in the fighting so far. The attack on the Westerplatte peninsula by Red Army units took place on March 27th-31st, 1945.

After the end of hostilities, a systematic, planned operation of blowing up and detonating ammunition, mainly German, was carried out in the area of Westerplatte. The area of the ammunition basin and adjacent buildings, including the barracks, was occupied and used by the Red Army. It was probably the commanders of the Red Army who chose, among others, a barracks building that had survived the hostilities as a suitable place for the detonation of unexploded ammunition. As a result of these explosions, the northern, less structurally reinforced wing of the barracks was completely destroyed, while the southern wing, despite significant damage, has survived to the present day.

© Museum of the Second World War; Authors: Bartłomiej Garba, Marcin Westphal

Symbol

Westerplatte after the war


Commemoration of the fallen defenders was initiated in 1945 by a former captain (then Second Lieutenant Commander) Franciszek Dąbrowski, an officer of the Navy. In November 1945, the first ceremony was held, during which the fallen soldiers were honored, within the first temporary cemetery. It was composed of a wooden cross, surrounded by a low fence, which was erected in late autumn 1945. At the end of July 1946, on the site of Guardhouse No. 5, destroyed in September 1939, a symbolic cemetery with the names of the Polish soldiers killed at Westerplatte was established and a cross was unveiled. On the tombstone there is an inscription: "Here rest the Heroic Defenders of Westerplatte, who died in September 1939, the Knights of the Virtuti Militari Cross".
In the following years, Westerplatte was forgotten, as this place had become an inconvenient symbol for the authorities during the Stalinist period. The image of an heroic Westerplatte defence did not fit easily with the reality of the persecution of soldiers serving in the army of the Second Polish Republic. The arrest on false charges and the maltreatment by the Security Office of Major Mieczysław Słaby (a doctor at Westerplatte in September 1939) and his death as a result of his injuries in March 1948, were symbolic of this. After the political changes of October 1956, veterans returned to Westerplatte, but in 1962 the communist authorities decided to remove the concrete cross from the cemetery in Westerplatte, placing a T-34 tank in its place.

Westerplatte as a propaganda showcase for the authorities

From the beginning of the 1960s, Westerplatte played the role of a propaganda showcase for the communist authorities. Official state delegations from all over the world were invited here, military ceremonies and official demonstrations were organized. In 1966, a 25-meter-high monument to the "Defenders of the Coast" was erected on the peninsula. A few months later, a technically operation to displace the Guardhouse No. 1 building was supposed to take place, several dozen meters deep into the peninsula. It was however eventually protected from destruction, because the area on which it was to be built was intended to widen the port channel. On September 1st, 1971, the ashes of the depot commander, Maj. Henryk Sucharski were returned to Westerplatte from Italy.

Westerplatte during the collapse of the communist system

Thanks to the Gdańsk Solidarity movement, the cross was returned to the Westerplatte cemetery in August 1981. The importance of the symbolism and the deep moral context of the place increased after a meeting of the Polish Pope John Paul II with Polish youth took place on the peninsula in June 1987. The year 1989 brought with it further changes in the physical appearance of this symbolic place on the Westerplatte peninsula, manifested by the removal of the T-34 tank from the cemetery.

© Museum of the Second World War; Authors: Bartłomiej Garba, Marcin Westphal

Buses - Lines 106, 138

Westerplatte can be reached by public buses, which run every day of the week. The lines both finish at and start running from the Dworzec Główny stop. Only low-floor vehicles run on the line.