Diary

Neal Ascherson

In Gdansk, the walk to the museum takes me past the Patriotic Clothing Store. Two blonde, blue-eyed dolls stand in the window, wearing little T-shirts saying: ‘My parents are 100% Polish.’ They have their wee fists raised in what a visiting journalist from Warsaw suggested, a bit unfairly, was a fascist ‘Heil’. Inside, the shop is small and dour. Racks of grown-up T-shirts with the anchor emblem of the 1944 Warsaw Rising. You can buy Velcro shoulder patches – ‘Death to the Enemies of My Country’ – in red, brown or blue. Further on is the Poczta, a heavy building of red Prussian brick. Here was the Polish Post Office, in the years when Danzig was a Free City under the League of Nations. The Germans besieged it on the first day of the war in 1939, and after the postmen surrendered, shot them all.

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