29 August – 2 September 2017, Workshop, Poland, Katowice

The workshop was held between 29 August and 2 September in Katowice with the participation of the I Was Citizen of Stalin Town project coordinators and volunteers. Katowice was named Stalin in honor of the Soviet dictator during 1953-1956, the shortest period of all the cities that participated in the project.

The workshop was attended by 3 representatives from Albania, 4 from Romania, 5 from Bulgaria, 6 from Hungary and 12 from Poland (coordinators, volunteers and associates). The hosts of the visit to Katowice were the Institute of National Remembrance and Town Garden Katowice – K. Bochenek. In the three days people talked extensively about the history of our cities and about the effects of the project and made plans of future cooperation. The coordinators agreed that the research work into the history of the Stalin cities in Eastern and Central Europe should be continued and that in the short run it should lead to a common editorial project.

On 30 August 2017 at the Przystanek Educational Centre of the Institute of National Remembrance in Katowice the presentation of the project was followed by a debate about Stalinogrod in the social memory of the locals from Katowice. The debate was attended by 49 people, coordinators and volunteers from all countries, historians from the Institute of National Remembrance and the Silesia University and locals from Katowice. One special guest was Mister Zbigniew Andrzej Kędzior born on 9 March 1953 at midnight which made him the first male child brought to the world after the name changing. According to the resolution of the authorities, he received the title of first citizen of Stalinogrod and the name of Joseph in honour of the Soviet dictator. He was given back the names chosen by his parents after the town returned to its historical name, in October 1956.

After the debate, the participants went for a guided thematic tour of Stalin Town and they could see the places associated with the Stalinist period and Stalin Town (The Youth Palace, The Unions’ House, Freedom Square, the prison on Mikolowska Street) but also the modern part of the town.

On August 31st, the group visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site where they saw the tragedy of millions of victims of Nazi Germany. On the same day, the workshop participants visited the Silesian Park – the former Provincial Park for Culture and Recreation built in the Stalinist times. The last day of the workshop started with a visit to the Silesian Centre for Freedom and Solidarity in Katowice where Antoni Gierlotka, a participant at the December 1981 miners’ strike from Wujek talked to the visitors about those tragic events from the early days of the instauration of the Martial Court in Poland and the Poles’ fight for freedom. This was followed by a meeting with the manager of the Centre, Mr. Robert Ciupa, who spoke about their plans to expand the museum. Towards the end of the visit, the project coordinators lit candles at the Monument of hero miners from Wujek, 16 December 1981. Another item on the agenda was the historic miners’ district in Nikiszowiec, built as a residential area for the working class and which survived the communist attempts to destroy all traces of the region’s bourgeois past. Then the visit continued with the seat of the Institute of National Remembrance from Katowice where the participants saw the IPN archives, being aware of the specificity and the type of archives stored in there and of the specificity of the communist security services and of the repressive Polish authorities prior to 1989.

10 specialists participated in organizing visits and guided tours.

To promote the project and debate, 700 flyers were printed and distributed with volunteers.

Also on Polish national television (PVT) was presented news about the project.

The visit in Katowice ended with a coordinators’ discussion about the effects of the project and the future cooperation among the cities involved.

You cand find more informations on miasto-ogrodow.eu

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