The countries of Eastern Bloc often spark an interest of tourists from other parts of the world, especially from capitalistic countries in Western Europe and America. Crazy Communism Tour to one of the Krakow’s district – Nowa Huta gives the perspective on how life in communist Poland (and other communist countries) looked like, and what has changed in the course of last three decades.
Life in communist Poland
The system in communist Poland was not the result of free choice of citizens, but rather of force imposition by Soviet authorities when Poland lost its sovereignty and found itself in Stalin’s sphere of influence. The fate of the country was practically decided in 1943 during a conference in Tehran (in Persia). At the conference Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, behind the back of Polish diplomacy, marked the shape of Europe and applied their idea after World War II. The Soviet Union in some way or another forced Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Baltic States to join the alliance with the Soviet Union.
The government subordinated the administration and the provincial authorities. The introduction of the propaganda system of communism also began in schools, where the punishment waited for rebellious teachers. The authorities were subject to strict orders from the USSR. The government introduced a monopolistic economy, nationalised it and subordinated the party. The construction of the Polish state, modelled on the Soviet Union, was Stalin’s plan, which he developed long before the end of the war. Western countries, such as France and Great Britain, were experiencing incredible economic growth. At the same time, Poland, being in the communist snare, was increasingly plunged into poverty and crisis.
Communist Poland – harsh conditions mixed with humour
The period Polish People’s Republic is an endless source of absurd problems and jokes. The most common issues included the lack of essential goods, incredibly long queues, the inability to travel abroad or the difficulty in getting an allotment flat or car. Shortly after the war, the priority was to rebuild the infrastructure and create new living conditions because the largest cities in the country were almost completely destroyed. One of the best examples of a city built in the utopian socialist realism style that dominated the Soviet Union is Nowa Huta.
Nobody can say that life in communist Poland was joyful, but the communist party of Poland often wanted to prove that they were doing everything to ensure a comfortable living for its citizens. Besides that, some people “adapted” to socialist reality, often actively participating in building the new system, which allowed them to lead a comfortable life. However, most of Poles felt both the nuisance of everyday life and the unpleasant consequences of functioning in a totalitarian state. The only way to operate in such a reality is trivialising some problems and joking, which gave rise to endless funny stories about living in communist Poland.
Nowa Huta – the perfect communist city
Although today Nowa Huta is one of the districts of Krakow, it was established as a separate, workers’ city. Authorities planning the first fully socialist city in Poland wanted to create an ideal city: beautiful, comfortable, and of course, in social socialist realism. The project of the new district appeared shortly after World War II. In the following years began the building of Metallurgical Combine, Central Square and huge housing estates which were to serve as accommodation for the working class. Nowa Huta has its distinctive atmosphere, culture and tradition. Contact with this part of the city after visiting the centre of Krakow can be a real shock and a perfect opportunity to see the legacy of communism in Poland. Although communism in our country is long gone, Nowa Huta remains an important industrial centre and the extraordinary district of Krakow. What are the main spots in Nowa Huta?
Crazy Communism Tour to Nowa Huta
The district is full of interesting spots that perfectly show the communist legacy and the changes that came after the fall of the socialist government in Poland. Central Square is the heart of Nowa Huta and at the same time, the best place to start exploring this unique district of Krakow. Standing in the middle of Central Square, you can see the fantastic organisation and harmony in the district’s structure. Not less significant is Aleja Roz, a place dedicated to Vladimir Lenin. It is a site where stood a seven-ton monument to the communist leader that erected there in the 1970s. The monument became the object of mockery and many attacks, like the bomb planted under the statue in 1979. The monument was finally removed on December 10, 1989, after the fall of the communist regime in Poland. Today, the pedestal (already without the memorial) is one of the main places in Nowa Huta and a perfect place for a walk.
The biggest impression on many visitors makes specific housing estates and socialist realism architecture. However, there are also other interesting spots. For example, Zalew Nowohucki – the favourite recreation place for the inhabitants of Nowa Huta. A park is a place where locals come to rest, take a walk, run, ride a bike or play football. Zalew Nowohucki provides an excellent alternative to spending time in the market square or Vistula boulevards. Another “must-see” place is Wanda Mound-the oldest mound in Krakow which was built around the 8th century AD. At the top of the mound, there is a marble statue of an eagle with a crown designed by Jan Matejko and decorated with a distaff crossed with a sword. Climb the hill to see the beautiful, green panorama of Nowa Huta.
Crazy Communism Tour with Cracow4You
Communism lived a significant trace in the Word’s history and the development of Poland. Knowing the history helps us avoid repeating past mistakes. Visiting Nowa Huta with our professional guides gives you an opportunity to look at the district from different perspectives and to know in-depth the history of communist Poland.