World War II In Poland

German battleship SMS "Schleswig-Holstein" firing at the Polish Military Transit Depot during the siege of Westerplatte

German battleship SMS “Schleswig-Holstein” firing at the Polish Military Transit Depot during the siege of Westerplatte

When the Poles regained their independence after WW1, they hoped that Danzig would become part of Poland. However, since Germans were in the majority there, and in accordance with the Versailles Treaty, Danzig became a Free City under the auspices of the League of Nations. Hitler later demanded its return, together with a land corridor between Pomerania and East Prussia. He later used the issue of Danzig as pretext for war.

In August 1939, under the pretence of a courtesy visit, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein dropped anchor in the channel off Westerplatte and on 1st September, at exactly 0445 local time, began to bombard the Polish outpost with its 280 and 150mm guns. Thus began Germany’s invasion of Poland, igniting the powder keg that became WW2. This tour accompanied by Colonel Peter Knox begins at the Westerplatte and visits many other key sites, ending with uprisings of 1943 and 1944.

ITINERARY

Day 1 (Wednesday): Fly London Heathrow to Gdańsk via Warsaw. Overnight Gdańsk. (4 nights). Group dinner.

Day 2: Gydnia and the Polish destroyer Blyskawica, built in the UK for the pre-war Polish Navy, she escaped at the beginning of WW2 to serve alongside the Royal Navy. The Westerplatte where a small garrison fought the Germans for a week despite constant bombardment and Wisłoujście Fortress. The Polish Post Office building where postmen bravely held-out before surrendering, Solidarity Square and Museum. Group dinner.

Day 3: Walk along the Royal Route where the façades of the town houses and the interior of the Town Hall and Artus Court reflect the prosperity of the Polish Republic in the 15th and 16th centuries. Visit Uphagen House, the National Museum housed in an old Franciscan Monastery and Gdańsk’s Napoleonic fortress. Group dinner

Day 4: The concentration camp at Stutthof, the first outside Germany and the last to be liberated in May 1945. Malbork CWGC cemetery, then a guided tour of the Teutonic Knights Castle founded in 1278. Dinner under own arrangements.

Day 5: Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair, near Kętrzyn, formerly Rastenberg in East Prussia. Built in 1940 prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler spent long periods there; also the scene of the failed assassination attempt by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in July 1944. Overnight Kętrzyn (1 night). Group dinner.

Day 6: Travel to Warsaw via Treblinka, where over 800,000 Jews were murdered. Overnight Warsaw (2 nights). Group dinner.

Day 7: Visit to include The Path of Remembrance, the Umschlagplatz, the ‘44 Rising Museum, Katyn Memorial Chapel and Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Farewell dinner in a traditional Polish restaurant.

Day 8: In the morning continue sightseeing to include a visit to the infamous Pawiak Prison. Afternoon departure to London Heathrow.

 

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