100 years ago, on April 29, 1923, the grand opening of the “Temporary War Port and Fishermen’s Shelter” was held in Gdynia, northern Poland. The city’s dynamic development made it one of the largest and most modern ports in Europe at the outbreak of World War II.
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Under the Treaty of Versailles, the document that ended the state of war between Germany and most of the Allied Powers in 1919, Poland gained access to the Baltic Sea for 147 km. However, no major port was included within its borders.
The date considered the formal beginning of the Port of Gdynia’s construction is September 23, 1922, when the Polish parliament’s lower house passed a law that authorized the government “to make the necessary arrangements to carry out the construction of a seaport at Gdynia, as a public utility port.”
On April 29, 1923, with the participation of Polish President Stanisław Wojciechowski and Prime Minister Władyslaw Sikorski, the grand opening of the port took place. In August of the same year, the first seagoing ship entered its quay. It was a vessel named “Kentucky”, flying the French flag.
The opening of the port and its expansion, the second stage of which began in 1924, resulted in Gdynia’s dynamic development and being granted city status two years later. At the time, it had a population of 12,000, and its area was 14 square kilometers.
The Port of Gdynia, constructed by Poland after the republic's labor problems with workers in the Free City of Danzig, is inaugurated in a ceremony. pic.twitter.com/JkxvnVcwk7
— 1923 Live (@100YearsAgoLive) April 23, 2023
Tremendous contributions to the development of the port of Gdynia were made by Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, who, as Minister of Industry and Trade from 1926 to 1930, obtained huge funds for the construction of the port, thanks to which the city quickly became one of the largest and most modern ports in the Baltic.
An important event in Gdynia’s history was the opening of the Marine Station in 1931, from which, among other things, emigrants departed on their way to South America.
The pride of the port became a cold storage facility, which was the second largest of its kind in the world. It allowed simultaneous storage of up to 1,200 freight cars.
In 1938, nearly 6,500 ships visited Gdynia, and the port’s transshipments amounted to 9.2 million tons.
At the outbreak of World War II, it was one of the largest and most modern ports in Europe, around which a city of more than 120,000 residents was built.