Founder of the Depot History Centre
Head of the “Remembrance and Future” Centre in Wroclaw. Ph.D. in historical sciences. Head of the National Center for Culture in 2006–2007 and in 2016. Creator of state programs, among others “Patriotism of Tomorrow” and “Witnesses of History.” Founder of the Depot History Centre.
The “Remembrance and Future” Centre The former bus depot at Grabiszyńska street in Wroclaw is a remarkable place. This site from the end of the nineteenth century has been a “witness” to the complicated history of the city. The depot, like the entire city, was destroyed during the war, during the battle for Festung Breslau. In 1945, as a result of the decision of the powers victorious in the second world war, Wroclaw—former capital of German Silesia—became a Polish city. The German Städtische Straßenbahn Breslau was replaced by the Polish municipal transport company.
The Poles rebuilt the partly destroyed buildings of the depot, which served for Wroclaw buses for the next few decades. The location of todays Depot History Centre was chosen not by accident—it was here, in the then Bus Depot No. VII, where a strike in solidarity with workers on the Baltic coast began in 1980. The strike which undoubtedly contributed to the signing of the August agreements in Gdańsk and the triumph of “Solidarity.” For the capital of Lower Silesia it has an additional, special significance: it was then, during the hot days of the strike that the inhabitants of Wroclaw really felt that it was their city, and then it ultimately formed its identity, built during the post-war decades in difficult, communist reality. If it is even possible to “describe a city,” to present its history, people, culture, past, and future, it is hard to imagine a better location for this.
The depot has changed once again. Exhibitions, educational workshops, cultural events, and artistic projects have been established here. The hall of the depot has regained its former pre-war splendour, and the whole environment has changed to the benefit not only of the surrounding inhabitants but also of all the visitors to the depot.
The heart of The Depot History Centre is the scenographic exhibition “Wroclaw 1945–2016” (Figures 1–6) where the history of those who have been coming here since 1945, more often forced by the circumstances and the dramatic consequences of war than of their own free will, is shown in a modern way. All those people who, with courage and determination, came together to rebuild the ruined Breslau, renamed Wroclaw, brought with them the cultures of their small home villages, local traditions and a variety of personal experiences, contributing to the building of the open and multicultural community of Wroclaw. In such an atmosphere, the development of a wonderful scientific and cultural life was possible, as was opposition to the communist regime, which was most fully expressed in the period in which Wroclaw was not without reason called the “Solidarity” Fortress. Thanks to this, it was also possible to build European unity, initiated in 1965 by the so-called Letter of Reconciliation to Germans written by the Metropolitan of Wroclaw, Cardinal Bolesław Kominek.
The Depot History Centre combines two important features: it is a place of memory, associated with the civilizational development of modern Wroclaw and with aspiration of its residents to freedom, and on the other hand today it is a place of historical and civic education, in which the most important value is the dialogue based on truth.
Figures 1–6: Exhibition “Wroclaw 1945–2016” at The Depot History Centre.