harold naaijer photography | lenin's shipyard

Gdansk Shipyard 2003

August 14, 1980. The workers of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk go on strike. Citizens of Gdansk support their workers by putting flowers on the entrance gate. On August 31, the Polish government signs an agreement with Solidarinosc, the free trade-union of the workers.

Only 16 months later, general Jaruzelski declares the agreement as illegal and uses tanks and brute force to take over the shipyard. Some people get killed, many face injuries.

During the following years, there are more battles, leading to a new strike in 1988. Only in 1989 former Solidarinosc chef Lech Walensa is chosen as Polands first free elected president.

In 2003, there are 2000 man working on the shipyard. During 'the times of shipyard worker Walensa' there were 17.000.. The shipyard is sold to a project developer named Synergia. I photographed the last bits of the legendary shipyard. The leftovers of a place that played a significant role in ending the cold war.

The old leader of Solidarinosc meanwhile, gave lectures in the USA, where he is seen as a kind of Polish Rambo that conquered communism. On a local tv station, Walensa presented a fishing program. The man who voted for their leader, got mainly unemployed. Freedom has it's price, so they say.

Poland joined the EU in 2004. To survive, many Polish people have to work in other EU countries. Mostly on jobs that are not very well paid or are simply unpopular for the local population. The rising intolerance against (Polish) immigrants in many EU-countries makes you wonder who, at the end, really profited from the shipyard workers revolution. Freedom has a price, so they say.