The Polish Post Office in the Free City of Danzig, Gdańsk
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The Polish Post Office in the Free City of Danzig

Gdańsk

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The building is linked to recent events in Polish history, being a symbol of the Polish national identity in the interwar Free City of Danzig as well as a monument to the heroism of the employees of the Polish Post, who have bravely stood their ground against the German police and Waffen SS troops on September 1, 1939.

History

The Polish Post in the Free City of Danzig commenced its operations pursuant to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920. The third branch of the Polish Post in Heveliusplatz 1-2 (currently known as Plac Obrońców Poczty Polskiej - the Polish Post Office Defenders’ Square) was opened in January 1925. The new post office (officially referred to as “Polish Post and Telegraph Office no. 1 in Gdańsk” from August 1926) operated in the north wing of the former garrison hospital erected in years 1838-1844. Before that time, the building was used as a borstal (from 1630 onwards); in 1643, it was surrounded with a tall wall, a fragment of which has survived until this day on the eastern side of the post office courtyard. The western wing of the hospital building, built on an L-shaped floor plan, was used by the labour office (Staedtisches Arbeitsamt) and police station no. 2. The corridors connecting the two wings of the building together have been bricked up.

On September 1, 1939, at 4.45 the Nazi German forces launched their attack against the Polish Post Office building. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the small crew of Polish Post employees defending the building only decided to surrender following fourteen hours of violent clashes, during which eight people were killed and another fourteen were wounded (with four of them eventually dying from their wounds). On October 38, the remaining defenders of the Polish Post were executed at the former shooting range in the Zaspa district of Gdańsk.

In years 1948-1951 the building was restored and adapted as a boarding house.

On September 1, 1979, on the fortieth anniversary of the heroic last stand, the monument to the Defenders of the Polish Post Office in Gdańsk was unveiled in the square in front of the building; at the same time, the Post and Telecommunications Museum was opened in the eastern section of the building (renamed as the Museum of the Polish Post Office in Gdańsk [branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Gdańsk] in 2003). The western part of the building now serves as the Gdańsk Post Office no. 1.

Description

The Polish Post Office building in Gdańsk is located within the Old Town area, on the boundary with the Osiek and Zamczysko districts. The post office building, operating in the southern wing of the building, forms the southern frontage of Polish Post Office Defenders’ Square.

The

building was designed in the Romanesque Revival style by an unknown architect and built on an elongated rectangular floor plan, featuring a grand vestibule positioned on the axis of the building. It is a four-storey structure with loft and cellar, covered with a hip roof, with an avant-corps on positioned on the axis of the front facade. The building is made of brick, while the roof, supported by a wooden roof truss, is clas with ceramic roof tiles. The ceilings inside the building have been reconstructed after the war using ferro-concrete.

The facades of the building are symmetrical in design, their exposed brick walls partitioned horizontally by a series of cornices; a decorative crowning cornice with a dentil frieze provides the finishing touch. The window and door openings are topped with round arches, with the exception of the fourth storey, which differs from the others in that it features small, rectangular windows.

The front (northern) facade follows a fifteen-axis design with a short avant-corps positioned on its axis. The avant-corps follows a three-axis design in its ground floor section and a five-axis design on all other levels and is crowned with a triangular pediment with an oculus in the centre. A monumental portal with a simple, geometric design is positioned on the axis of the avant-corps, on the ground floor level. A semi-circular fanlight with a decorative metal grille is positioned above the wooden, panelled double door. All the door and window openings in the avant-corps (with the exception of the fourth storey) are framed by pronounced splayed reveals. A row of five dormers on each side of the avant-corps project out of the surface of the roof; these are a later addition and were not part of the original design.

The eastern facade follows a three-axis design with a portal similar to the main entrance positioned on the axis of the facade. A single dormer juts out of the roof surface.

The southern facade features an eleven-axis design. The western part of the facade is obscured by the wing of the former hospital; a recess with an entrance, spanning three storeys, is positioned in the corner. A portal resembling the main entrance is positioned on the fourth axis. The roof features four dormers.

The interiors have been partially modified, with the interior layout being changed compared to the original design. The surviving interior features include the vaulted ceilings and columns in the grand hall as well as some of the original, wooden doors.

Limited access to the historic building. The post office is open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 19:00.

The Museum of the Polish Post is open daily (Mondays 9:00-13:00 - admittance free, Tuesdays to Thursdays 9:00-16:00, Fridays to Saturdays 10:00-18:00, Sundays 10:00-16:00; admission prices: schoolchildren: PLN 1, group ticket: PLN 4, reduced fare: PLN 5, standard fare: PLN 8).

Complied by: Teofila Lebiedź-Gruda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 04.08.2014.

Bibliography

  • Kurdybacha Ł. (red.), 400 lat Poczty Polskiej 1558-1958, Warszawa 1958.
  • Stankiewicz J., Szermer B., Gdańsk. Rozwój urbanistyczny i architektoniczny oraz powstanie zespołu Gdańsk-Sopot-Gdynia, Warszawa 1959.
  • Śnieżko A., Poczta Polska w Wolnym Mieście Gdańsku, Wrocław 1964.

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Obrońców Poczty Polskiej 1/2, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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