Monday, 30 January 2012


I know that the blog should be about Wroclaw. But it is also about travelling and learning about other cultures, so I would like to share with you some information about my trip to India in April 2010. I was lucky enough to get invited to visit some Indian schools and, amongst others, a school run for the tribal kids in Muvalia district of Dahod city in the state of Gujarat. It was a lifetime and life-changing experience. There is also a boarding hostel, so that these poor kids, very often orphans, can be provided education, no matter how far from the school they live. I saw these extremely poor and basic living conditions of the kids in the hostel and the studying rooms, where they didn’t even have the minimum of ‘fresh’ air, i.e. not even the smallest under-ceiling fan. But the most striking thing is that the kids do not demand anything more, they have never seen a toy in their life, yet it is enough to make them happy just smiling to them, waving hello, shaking hands and making a photo together. They prepared such amazing artistic and dance performances for us! 

They youngest girls really liked our visit:-)

Mahatma Gandhi 
Studying room

The school and the hostel are run by Christian missionaries and lots of people of good will, who do a lot of hard social and educational work for the tribal people. They continuously struggle with the lack of drinking water and food and expenses for basic things. I was crying when I saw all this and immediately wanted to help the Indian children. I am not too big a fan of soft toys, but when I realized that the kids there had never played with anything like that and they had never seen a toy in their life I immediately came up with an irrational idea of sending them some soft toys (400!). It was a silly idea or rather a cry od despair, but it shows how much I got influenced by what I had seen and felt there and how much I wanted to help them, though, ironically enough,the kids were safe, smilling and looking happy. Yet, I was immensly struck and heart-broken by the extremely basic conditions they live in, and then, after talking with the headmaster of the school and the hostel, by the continuous struggle to keep the hostel running. In 1998 they started a boarding for the tribal children who have no facilities to go the school near their homes. The tribal people of this area have been systematically exploited by the dominant caste people and the charitable trust, which established the mission, are making efforts to liberate them from their clutches. The trust’s major interest is in the upcoming of the poor and marginalized tribal people of the surrounding areas. Their prime concern and the focus is on the education of tribal children which will definitely bring changes in their life as they grow. To provide quality education today they have a residential self-financing Gujarati medium primary School (1-7 classes) with 490 boys and girls. The students of the school live in the boarding hostels. They have also successfully established a social work department called Tribal Social Welfare Society. It runs developmental and women empowerment-related projects which take place in more than 40 villages. Yet, vast majority of the area of Dahod district remains untouched.

A tribal family in Muvalia village in front of their house
A kitchen in the tribal house
Running a school for kids who live many, many kilometres away from their villages and cannot walk to that school regularly would not make sense without providing them a possibility of board and lodging. Thanks to the generosity of good people (including many Wroclawians) and charity organisations worldwide they run two hostels:  Adivasi Kumar Chatralaya (tribal boys' hostel) Adaivasi Kanniya Chatralaya (tribal girls' hostel), Muvalia.  The hostels are just not a place for sleeping but it is a large dome made up of discipline, knowledge, love and affection. Children are given ample opportunities to develop and to enhance their skills and talents through dancing, singing, rangoli making, public speaking competitions, playing various games and musical instruments. Knowledge and growth of technology is being built in them by reading daily newspapers and by conducting quiz-competitions. The children are given nutritious food in order to be healthy and to be more active in their daily tasks. Sports like football, volleyball, running, skipping and swimming keep up the sharpness and the growth of children.

The donations they received from the kind-hearted people of Wrocław in 2010-2011 have been used for the hostel kitchen provisions and for mosquito net fittings in the hostel building.

Everyday bath in the nearby river
School milk-giving buffalloes
Waiting for lentils dal
Teeth brushing
Washing up after a meal
They sleep almost on the plain floor
At present there are 370 boys and 120 girls in the residential school and they come from a very poor background, most of their parents are migrant workers and small farmers. The children are not orphans but they are poor tribal children who have no facilities to go to school near their homes. These children are from 25 villages of the tribal district of Dahod. It is quite difficult to find funds for feeding them three times a day. On average they use 120 kgs of rice, 75 kgs of wheat flour and 6 kgs of lentils dal. Besides this, they need money for vegetables, oil, masala (spices), firewood and three cooks salary, etc. 
“It is a noble task but it is a challenging one, but we do it to provide a better and dignified future life for the poor tribal children. We give importance for academic studies and also initiate them to extracurricular activities like sports, games, cultural and literacy competitions. We do conduct weekly and monthly tests to evaluate the progress of the children in the school and weak children are given special coaching classes in our hostel premises.” (from the headmaster’s letter).

Performing regional dances - Indian kids love dancing! 
What are the future needs of the residential school children at Muvalia?

1. They need support for the kitchen provisions (rice purchase) at least for six months.
 2. They need to build some more toilets in the boys' hostel building.
 3. They need to provide 60 desks and benches for the school classrooms.

If you want to help, please send me a personal message at You can make a general donation or pay for education and food of an individual child. Thank you!

P.S. On 15 January there was held the second big charity event for raising funds for the school in Muvalia. The next one - a concert - is going to take place on 26 May.
All photos by Katarzyna Szostak and Muvalia School. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Mysterious energy sources, a special mission to solve a secret, suspense, unexpected turns of the plot, pursuit, quick action and all these set in beautiful and one of a kind city of Wrocław:-) Enjoy!

P.S. Unfortunately you can't see it in cinemas. This is a promo film that won the 2nd prize in the Wroclaw contest called 'Kręć Wrocław' (Make Wrocław (a film). I absolutely adore the film!!!!! I can't help sharing with you another great short film about Wrocław:-). Enjoy!

Sunday, 15 January 2012


The National Forum of Music (Narodowe Forum Muzyki) will be open in 2013. 
It's going to be one of the most modern and prestigious concert halls in Europe. Here is a very interesting visualisation of the Forum. 
The music in the background - Brahms' double concerto for violin and cello a-moll op. 102, vivace non troppo.

I can't wait to go to a concert there!:-)

Saturday, 14 January 2012


What is a city without history? Just stones. This saying is so perfectly true in the case of the Wroclaw Industrial Park. All that is so interesting there would have no meaning without the fascinating and rich history behind it. It would be just buildings…

Linke und Hoffmann Werke AG Breslau 1914
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
The area I am talking about has the size of 163 hectares and its beginnings date back to 170 years ago, when in 1839 Mr Gottfried Linke – the owner of a small manufacture of horse saddles and carriages got an order for delivering 100 special railway carriages needed for the construction of Uppersilesian Railways.  From one day to the next his small workshop had to transform into a much bigger one and then moved to new locations a few times as he needed more and more area. The factory of Wagenbauanstalt Gottfried Linke was growing all the time, together with the dynamic development of the railway industry. Their product portfolio included freight and passenger carriages as well as locomotives. 

Gottfried Linke 1792-1867
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
At 59 Strzegomska street, which was then the area outside the city, they bought a piece of land to build a storehouse of wood and a lumber mill, which later - at the beg. of the 20th century was expanded into one of the production plants. At the end of the 19th century Linke sons built nearby a new plant for building machines and locomotives, however, it was not enough and 11 years later a new huge plant was built for assembling train carriages. The Linke factory was recognized in Europe and worldwide. They received many rewards at international fairs and exhibitions. The size of the plant exceeded the size of the Wroclaw old town and the market square.

Map of LHW, 1914
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 
Johann Hoffmann 1803-1879
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
Their biggest competitor was a railway carriage factory run by Mr Hoffmann. And what do you think they did about it? In 1912 they merged together and changed the name into Linke und Hoffmann Werke AG Breslau (workshops of Linke and Hoffmann). The company was thriving. They cooperated with various other suppliers and soon the whole factory became the largest factory in Wroclaw and one of the greatest manufacturers of railway carriages and locomotives  in Europe employing about 5000 people.  In total there were produced as many as 20.000 railway carriages, including the famous and very luxurious VIP train for German emperors. Also trams were on their offer.

Locomotive no. 2000, 1920
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 

A city tram, 1920
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 

Locomotives no.1, 100, 500
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 
After the crisis of 1929 they had to stop producing the locos with the last one which had the number of 3077. In 1934 their two depots (including the locomotive production plant) were sold out – one was bought by Junkers and focused on manufacting machines under the name of  Fahrzeug und Motoren Werke (FAMO), its post-war successor being the Dolmel factory. LHW focused on the production of train carriages only. Their products were exported to many countries.

LHW HQ building, 1914
after work, 1914
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 
During the I and IIWWs LHW were manufacturing also armaments – the so-called Walfish (whale) planes – reconnaissance aircraft in the IWW and parts of V2 rockets and armoured trains in the IIWW. It was also a branch of the nearby Gross Rosen concentration camp in years 1941-1942 , where the prisoners were forced to work. Most of them worked in the adjacent FAMO plant (there is a beautiful memorial opposite the main office building, inside the park).
armoured trains
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 
parts of V2 rockets
source: Biblioteka Cyfrowa Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 

In May 1945 LHW is taken over by the new authorities and given a name of State Carriage Factory PaFaWag – the name comes from the first letters of the long full name of the company (Państwowa – state, Fabryka – Factory, Wagonów – of carriages), and, although the factory was destroyed in 80% during the war, the first open freight carriage for transporting coal and other goods was produced as early as in November 1945. It was made mainly from post-German parts and the missing parts were made hand-made, thanks to Polish people’s resourcefulness.The company employed 1500 people at the end of 1945. The newcomers to Wroclaw, seeing the works in full swing would jump off their train and join the crew. After the restoration and modernization it was again the biggest industrial company of Wroclaw with the size of 70 hectares and at its best times - with 6000 (some say 10 000) employees.  It was the only Polish supplier of trains that were suitable for Polish electrical traction system. It was also a flagship socialist factory, initiating some social actions of e.g. restoring the city of Wroclaw. Each big achievement, e.g. the 1000th freight carriage was a big political and social event, which was widely publicized and celebrated – the aim was to motivate to even harder work. Many communist VIPs, heads of the communist party and Soviet Union high dignitaries visited the factory. 

Socialist propaganda in Pafawag
They were manufacturing all range of electrical and diesel locomotives and various types of carriages, passenger and freight ones, diesel and electrical multiple units -  mainly for Polish Railways, but also loads of the products were exported to India, China, Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Morocco, Syria, Iraq or Greece, Holland.  In total they produced 2231 electrical locos and 1633 EMUs. With about 6000 people working there Pafawag grew into a kind of a town – they had their own nursery, kindergarten, vocational school, health centre, sport clubs, cinema. Pafawag goods were famous for their innovative technological solutions and most of them are still in operation. The factory was the national pride and its name has been known all over Poland! The factory is one of the oldest in Europe.

Pafawag factory inside, 1950-1960/source: Foto Polska
From 1989 to 1996 with the change of the political system in Poland, the company suffers problems of fewer and fewer orders.  The volume of railway transport  decreases, being driven out by the increased car transport. Polish railways, the main and regular customer also have problems and withdraw from ordering. The employment rate drops. In ‘97 the company is taken over by Adtranz (ABB and DB) under the condition of obtaining a big order from Polish Railways for 50 modern locomotives. Unfortunately the Polish Railways were never able to pay for them.

From May 2001 Pafawag traditions are continued by a Canadian company of Bombardier Inc. Their division of Bombardier Transportation is the world leader in the production of rolling stock and railway equipment. In Wroclaw, they still occupy three huge depots, as in the old good times, but the products include only locomotive carbodies and railway bogie frames. The locomotive carbodies from Wroclaw run in Greek, Swedish, Swiss, American and Malaysian locomotives. They are used in superfast ICE trains operated in Germany and Holland as well as in the Spanish high-speed Talgo locomotive (350 km/h).  
former Linke und Hoffmann Werke - present Bombardier Transportation Polska
Photo by Krzysztof Kulig
The other part of LHW, the former FAMO factory (successor of LHW locomotive and machine factory) which is adjacent to the former Pafawag part of the park was changed into Dolmel, which was almost as big as its neighbour. They were manufacturing turbines and generators on a huge scale, but it can be as well said that the main life was revolving around more interesting things like parties, socializing, pursuing artistic or sport passions, love, family life, solidarity movement and a spontaneous opposition reaction to the introduction of the martial law in 1981. Piotr Bednarz, the legend of Wroclaw Solidarity and one of the three musketeers, who saved 80 million PLN belonging to the trade union, had been working there. 

FAMO in 1945/source Foto Polska
advertisement leaflet of FAMO/source: Foto Polska
Giving the name of F. Dzierzynski to Dolmel, 21.07.1951
source: Foto Polska
Dolmel factory, assembling the 125MW generator 1960-63
source: Foto Polska 
Dolmel, inside the factory 1950-60
source: Foto Polska

In 1990 a part of Dolmel was bought by ABB and then by Alstom and currently is one of the leading providers of huge superpowerful generators used also in nuclear power plants.  The other sections of the industry formed separate companies. 

One of them – Dozamel Sp. z o.o. is the manager of the Wrocław Industrial Park. The idea of establishing the park finally came into life on 14 March 2005, when the Municipality and the following companies: DOZAMEL Sp. z o.o., Archimedes S.A. oraz Wrocławski Park Technologiczny S.A. signed an agreement. Later they were joined by Bombardier Transportation Polska Sp. z o.o. i Wojdyła Inwestycje Sp. z o.o. The main target is the revitalisation of this historical industrial area as a unique and uniform territory registered as a historical area with over one hundred years of industrial traditions. They also provide new businesses with ready infrastructure, aim at creating new workplaces, offer training sessions and want to keep the park in line with modern technologies. The park area is the same as 170 years ago (163 hectares) and it is divided into three parts called by the names of the three big post-war factories Pafawag, Dolmel and Archimedes. 

A modern building of conference centre
source: Dozamel Sp. z o.o.
Present times: a film about the Wroclaw Industrial Park

I used some of the information from the blog

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Lower Silesia (a region of Poland), autumn 1981. After a series of provocations by the Secret Service, a confrontation of the opposition with the communists seems unavoidable. Just before introducing the martial law, on 3 December 1981, the young leaders of Solidarity decide to play va banque and organise a daring, yet totally legal action of withdrawing 80 milion PLN (the equivalent of an average salary of 10.000 people in those days) that belong to the Solidarity trade union from the bank before their bank account is blocked. The agents of the Secret Service dog their footsteps. An extremely exciting and dangerous game starts.  Each side has got equal chances to win….

I saw the film three days ago. It was an amazing and very moving experience. The film was about my hometown and about the people whose names I have been hearing  since I was a kid and was lucky enough to shake hands with (well, with one of them:-). The film was about four brave 25-years-old men who risked their life in the name of free motherland. After introducing the martial law very hard times came, loads of people were arrested, persecuted and made redundant and the money was used for helping them and their families get by. It was also used for organizing Solidarity Radio and underground press.
photo Jarosław Sosiński / dystr. Kino Świat
Polish nation owes these young heroes so much, but it hasn’t been always that they were treated with due respect. I’m very happy that the film restores the legend and ethos of Solidarity movement,  their ideals, values and amazingly strong friendship. “80 million” is made in such an excellent way that it also touches the hearts and minds of the young generation for whom the history from 30 years ago seems a very ancient and boring past. But if it hadn’t been for these amazing brave guys, who knows, what would Poland look like now….   

photo Jarosław Sosiński / dystr. Kino Świat
Unfortunately one of the brave men – Piotr Bednarz - didn’t live to see the film. He was a very humble, selfless and extremely righteous man, who paid a lot for being loyal to his ideals and people who had chosen him for their leader. Being imprisoned for a long time, they tortured him very badly trying to find out where the money was.  In free Poland he stayed in the background and never got involved in political fights. This year a plaque in his memory was put up in the factory building where he had worked for years and which was an active political opposition centre.  

photo Mieczysław Michalak/Agencja Gazeta
I do hope it will be possible soon to see this film also in other language versions.