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New Europe

Day One Hundred and Two: Poznan

Poznań to Wolsztyn 
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Driving the 8.58 from Poznań to Wolsztyn. Clocking on with Janos at Poznań Central.
Michael Palin - New EuropePoznan is another fine example of an old city centre reconstructed, and the houses around the Stary Rynek (the Old Square) are as handsome as any in Warsaw. There's industry as well as culture here and it was at the Stalin Engineering Works in Poznan that, in 1956, there took place the first ever labour protests in the post-war Soviet bloc. Security forces killed over fifty people in suppressing the protest, which was a forerunner of the later shipyard strikes in Gdansk.

Despite having been frequently occupied by Germany up till the end of the Second World War, this part of Poland, called Wielkopolska, is considered the heartland of the nation - where Poland sprang from.

I spent most of yesterday's relaxing two-and-a-half-hour train ride here from Warsaw in the dining car. It was of the traditional, and increasingly rare, sort, with lamps on the table, freshly prepared food, even books on a rack, and no-one bullying you to move on. In this congenial atmosphere I read more of Eva Hoffman's Lost In Translation, a finely written memoir of a Jewish girl who grew up in Krakow and eventually, driven by wartime pogroms and post-war anti-Semitism, left her native Poland to live in America.

She's an acute analyst of human behaviour and echoes what Monika was telling me about the Polish temperament. Hoffman was always pleased when her work at school was described as having polot, 'a word that combines the meanings of dash, inspiration and flying. Polot is what everyone wants to have in personality as well. Being correct and dull is a horrid misfortune.'
Driving the 8.58 to Wolsztyn 
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Driving the 8.58 from Poznań to Wolsztyn. Steaming along near our 50 mph maximum.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day One Hundred and Two: Poznan
  • Country/sea: Poland
  • Place: Poznań
  • Book page no: 240

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