The legend of the Polish transatlantic liners covers a 58 year period, the first of liner to raise the red and white flag doing so in 1930 and the last in 1988. Gdynia was the home port for them all. Passenger ships are the aristocracy of ocean-going craft. They are most perfect technically, often described and photographed, and have a prominent place in the history of ships. The Polish fleet of transatlantic liners was created initially to serve emigration traffic from Poland on the North Atlantic route. It was also a means of communication, a kind of bridge connecting the Polish community in the United States with that in the old country. The Polish transatlantic liners continued to play a similar role after the Second World War, where in addition to liner duties they served as cruise ships.
Out of the fleet of seven transatlantic liners, two continued to serve after the war. 'Piłsudski', the first modern ship to a design by the most outstanding of Polish artists, was among the first victims of war. 'Chrobry' went to war straight from its maiden voyage, before being bombed in 1940 and burnt in a Norwegian fjord. The first three steam-powered ships, 'Polonia', 'Pułaski', and 'Kościuszko', never returned to serve under the Polish flag.
'Batory' survived the war: it carried Allied troops on ocean convoys, and took the gold from the Bank of England and the treasures of Polish culture to Canada. British children were taken to Australia, and Polish war veterans were returned to Poland after the war. Later it diligently crossed the Atlantic Ocean both ways for almost a quarter of a century, being an enclave of luxury under the coarse communist reality. After years of military service, 'Sobieski' returned to Poland, before being sold to the USSR in 1950, to finish its service life 25 years later as the 'Georgia'.
The crews of Polish transatlantic liners enjoyed an elite status and had the best captains, still legendary today. They were press favourites and enjoyed the lives of celebrities in their times. They lived with a rich décor during the voyages, with great uniforms and attractive maritime ceremonies. The legend of Polish transatlantic ships remains one of the most vivid chapters in Poland's history of ocean travel.
More information on the maritime legend of Gdynia at www.legendamorska.pl/en.html
Urząd Miasta Gdyni, Referat Promocji i Turystyki, ul. 10-go Lutego 24, tel. +48 58 668 25 35, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.gdyniaturystyczna.pl