Gdańsk

John Paul II and Ronald Reagan Monument

Unveiled in 2012 and found standing in the Ronald Reagan park in the Przymorze district of Gdańsk. The statue shows two of anti-Communism’s most high profile figures walking side by side in conversation and demonstrates how important Poles viewed these two men in their modern history. When Karol Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II in 1978, he quickly visited his homeland and preached 32 sermons in 9 days creating what was described as a ‘psychological earthquake’. Always calling for compromise not conflict the Pope is widely recognised as having blown new life into the struggle when he came to Gdańsk in 1987. Reagan on the other hand is the US President who very visibly lent the Polish people his support, famously leaving a lit candle in the window of the White House at Christmas 1981, just after the communist regime had implemented Martial Law. His strong opposition to communism and combative tactics combined with the Pope’s gentle but firm diplomacy are seen by Poles as key to communism collapsing.

The metal figures, which are both literally larger than life at over 2 metres tall, were conceived and funded by donations to the "Godność" (Dignity) Association and are modelled on a famous photograph taken by Scott Stewart of the Associated Press when the Pope and President Reagan met in Miami in 1987. The engraving in Polish reads ‘Grateful for the independence of Poles’. In October 2013 a man was charged after stealing one of President Reagan’s arms. It is thought he wanted to sell it as scrap metal. The thief was caught soon after although a new arm had to be made.

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