The Memorial In Gdansk (1982)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Architecture & Design, Social History  |   Run Time - 45 min.  |   Countries - Finland, Poland  |  
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Finnish director, Jarmo Jaaskelaenan worked with a Polish cinematographer and sound man to make this documentary on the memorial erected in Gdansk at the end of 1980, commemorating the deaths of many shipyard workers in protests 10 years earlier. Since the topic was politically hot at the time, the film had to be smuggled out of Poland for cutting, editing and sound mixing (in West Germany). The first scenes open with the historic signing of the agreement between Solidarity and the Polish government, in August, 1980. Flowers are laid at the gate to the shipyards, and the camera cuts to a view of the memorial itself as the names of the dead workers are read to a silent crowd, standing in falling snow in the evening. After this, there are five separate segments based on five days of the week, Monday through Friday, dealing with the massacre of the workers by government soldiers and handled as memories of people gathered in a room to talk about that week. Historical (and censored) footage is shown of the events, expanded with audio tapes taken at the time. Each segment speaks for itself, and when all five are completed, there is a clear picture of what happened that December in 1970 at the shipyards of Gdansk and Gdynia. Mothers and other family members reveal how they learned what had happened, and how they made trips to the morgue to identify the dead, being forced to hurriedly bury their loved ones to hide the "evidence." Soldiers tell their story, and it is always the same the world over: they had to follow orders, they had no choice.