MICHAŁ SZLAGA. Workers 1947–1960. Personal stories.

On 19 October 1947, adjacent Shipyards No 1 and No 2 were combined into the Lenin Shipyard. The former Danziger Werft and Schichau Werft became the foundations for the Polish ship industry emerging in Gdańsk. According to the agreements with the USSR, 30% of equipment was left at the disposal of the plant, with some of its elements evacuated already during the war to the western areas of the Third Reich. Some parts of the shipyard were destroyed during the warfare in 1945. Studies show that, for instance, all floating docks had been drowned. However, two years were enough for the shipyard to operate again, and already in 1948, the first steam-powered bulk carrier “Sołdek” – builtfrom scratch in Poland after World War II – was launched.


Organising the shipyard industry in Gdańsk required highly-skilled workers, starting from engineers and technicians, and ending with welders, assemblers, riveters, coppersmithslocksmiths, and other specialists. There were shortages in all these groups, despite people coming to Gdańsk from all over the country, including engineers-mechanics from Warsaw and Lviv.


There is not much we know about that time apart from technical descriptions included in the books published in the 1970s and 1980s. There is no documentation related to this period and the private workers’ stories.


With his project Workers 1947–1960. Personal stories Szlaga has filled this gap and allowed us to better understand this period in the history of the Shipyard and the City of Gdańsk. With the support of local press and TV, he found 10 people who began their work in the Shipyard in the years 19471960. He held ten meetings, during which he interviewed the subjects and performed a photographic portray of them.


Szlaga treats the Workers 1947–1960 series as an introduction to a bigger project that the artistintends to implement in 2017In subsequent approaches to the topic of the Shipyard, the photographer will be dealing with workers employed in the years: 1960–1970, 1970–1980, 1980–1990, and 1990–2016.


Project co-financed by the City of Gdańsk.