Statement on Gdańsk Shipyard

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience strongly supports the nomination of Gdańsk Shipyard as the birthplace of “Solidarity” and a symbol of the Fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe (Poland) for the UNESCO World Heritage List. We also express our deepest concern regarding the emerging reinterpretation of the role of the “Solidarity” movement and Gdańsk Shipyard in world history.

The fall of the Communist totalitarian regime was no doubt one of the most important events in 20th century history. It not only ended the Cold War but also granted freedom and democracy to tens of millions of people. As such, it brought fulfilment of the UN’s goals, as the United Nations was established to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations.

Therefore, we perceive as deeply disturbing the opinion presented by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in its Interim Report, that it might be divisive, could cause conflicts of memories or raise questions in other East-Central European countries. We also strongly condemn the argument that universality of the nomination’s message is limited, because countries where Communism is a reference ideology, still exist. Referring to totalitarian ideology, which had tens of millions of victims, by no means could be accepted as an argument against recognition of the peaceful, citizen’s movement of “Solidarity” and its worldwide significance in the process of dismantling the oppressive system in East-Central Europe.

As an organisation that brings together 68 remembrance institutions from 23 countries we call on UNESCO to include the Gdańsk Shipyard on the World Heritage List as a strong symbol of anti-totalitarian and human rights movement not only in Poland, but in the whole of Europe.

In Prague, 8 December 2021