Autumn 2021. In theory we could travel to other continents, but destinations we had in mind such as Japan or the United Kingdom were impossible to plan ahead. Instead we organised a rail trip to Eastern Europe, travelling to Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. By travelling to Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, we explore an area which was in the (not too distant) past bonded together by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and by Austria-Hungary.
The Museum of the Second World War (Muzeum II Wojny Światowej) in Gdańsk (or Danzig in German) was an obvious choice for Danny and I to visit. We are well-versed in World War II history, but not so from Polish perspective. Gdańsk also has a peculiar history of the Free City of Danzig, which we knew very little about.
The museum was created in 2008. The museum combines three concepts: the Museum of the Second World War, the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939. Muzeum 1939 is still the museum’s website.
The complex is huge and the exhibition is very elaborate. Obviously the museum narrates topics such as the advent of war, the local situation (such as the Free City), the start of the war, living in wartime conditions, the Holocaust, collaboration and resistance, war crimes, turning points of the war, the post-war situation. Less obvious is attention for WW II in Asia and the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. That last topic is mostly untold in the West.
Touring the museum
If you want to read and listen to everything, you will need several hours. We did in just over two. There are quite a few eyecatchers such as the reconstructed 1930s street and the Junkers Ju 87 ‘Stuka’.
The audioguide is very good. Not only does it follow you automatically so you don’t need to look for numbers, it is also unnecessarily long. The audio clips are precise and omit rattling on.
The museum café has a good offering, so you can take your time.
2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe
- POTSDAM 2021 | Schloss Sanssouci.
- 1945 Potsdam Conference’s Cecilienhof Palace.
- Potsdam 2021.
- REVIEW | InterContinental Berlin.
- BERLIN 2021 | Pergamon, ‘Das Panorama’.
- BERLIN 2021 | Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace.
- BERLIN 2021 | The Bundestag in the Reichstag.
- Berlin 2021.
- By train from Berlin to Gdansk via Szczecin.
- Stopover in Szczecin.
- REVIEW | Restauracja Ritz in Gdańsk.
- REVIEW | Holiday Inn Gdansk.