Posts Tagged ‘poland’
This DW article looking at how German Görlitz and Polish Zgorzelec, divided after the Second World War, have been brought together in recent years is enlightening.
“Nowadays it looks very different over there!” A couple in their 50s has settled comfortably on a bench on the Altstadtbrücke bridge. Ice cream cone in hand, they gaze across at the other shore. To this day, “over there” still means the Polish side – Zgorzelec – to anyone who was born in Görlitz.
They are impressed with the colorfully restored houses on the banks of the river Neisse. “Back then,” the man recalls, “everything over there used to be utterly ugly.” The woman nods and says “Nu,” which means yes in the local dialect.
On the Altstadtbrücke – literally, Old Town bridge – people from Görlitz, Zgorzelec and tourists come together. A constant stream of people cross this moderate construction placed where the river has a width of some 60 meters (200 feet). It is not apparent that there is a border here. There are no signs marking German or Polish territory and most definitely no border checkpoints.
For centuries the Altstadtbrücke connected the center of Görlitz with its eastern suburb, which today is Zgorzelec. In 1945, that bridge was destroyed, and the town divided into the sister cities of Görlitz and Zgorzelec. Ever since, the river has been the German-Polish border. In 1998, along with a dozen other German towns, Görlitz and Zgorzelec jointly declared itself to be a “Town of Europe.” It’s not an official title but more a means of self-expression, showing a commitment to the European ideals of understanding and integration.
The Altstadtbrücke was reconstructed in 2004 to mark the European Union’s eastward expansion – that was the year Poland joined the EU – and it has become a symbol of a merging Europe.
“The construction of the bridge made a big difference for us,” says Barbara Szutenbach, 52. “Those of us who come from Zgorzelec now know every corner of Görlitz.” Szutenbach works at the Dom Kultury (Cultural Center) in the Ulica Parkowa, which is definitely worth a visit.