The Second World War would go on to claim the lives of an estimated 55 million people. This exhibition tells the story, both huge and complicated, with one eye always on the experience of Poland.
- Be shown that World War II was not just about the battles and the heroes, but also torture, murder and destruction of the people and spirit
- See a comprehensive exhibition but also from the viewpoint of Poland
- Learn about pre-war Poland and its position between Germany and the Soviet Union
This exhibition has to be seen to be understood and there’s not enough space here to explain in detail. Rather, you will find below some highlight of the many exhibits that will catch your attention. The main exhibition is an epic, comprehensive, clear and sombre retelling occupying 20 rooms lying on either side of the long corridor axis, which itself contains displays of everyday life during the war. From the first room with a semi-circular screen showing the rise of totalitarian regimes across Europe, everything is legible and meticulously researched and presented.
The entire story of the war in Poland, across Europe and beyond, is conveyed at the geopolitical, the military and the personal levels, and the objects it contains range from Stalin’s pipe to a Sherman tank, via keys to Jewish homes and an Enigma machine. Onto the exhibition and you begin by learning about the background to the war. In the case of Danzig, it is unquestionably linked to the conclusion of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles, which resulted in the city being left in a political limbo, governed neither by the newly recreated state of Poland nor by Germany who had governed Poland in the 146 years previously following partition. This sets the tone for much of the rest of the exhibition. The story of the war, told against the backdrop of the story of Poland and even more specifically, the story of Danzig. You’ll get to learn about pre-war Poland and its precarious position squeezed between an aggressive Germany to the west and a bitter and revengeful Soviet Union to the east. You’ll see that after years of appeasement to Hitler from the west, Poland became the first country to refuse to cede to the German dictator’s demands for the incorporation of Danzig into the German Reich which created the spark that ignited WW II.
It’s the references to the real people, not just statistics of those who died, and of human stories of survival and of heroism that really have an effect. You are shown that World War II is not just about the battles and the heroes. World War II is also about forced labor, torture, murder and the destruction of people and spirit. It is appropriate that this museum has been built in Poland as no people suffered as much as those that lived on the territory of Poland. And if there is one message that comes out clearly from this exhibition, it is the one displayed in huge white letters at Westerplatte, where the first shots were fired – “No More War.”
- Private guide
- Information and commentary about the city’s past and present
- Souvenir photos and record emailed to you after the tour
- Tickets to museums (€ 6)
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off (transport can be arranged on request for an additional cost)
Meeting Point – In front of the Museum of the Second World War