Gdynia

Babie Doły - Rock'n'Roll and Torpedos!

10 Feb 2020
Babie Doły, 30km north of Gdynia, is known for two things that are completely unrelated to eachother. The first is the wildly-popular Open'er Music Festival, which takes place in summer at the Military airfield and pulls heavyweights like Bruno Mars, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the late-and-great Prince. Out on the coast you will find the other year-round attraction, which resembles something out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick. The gigantic concrete form out in the bay was a torpedo testing facility, built by the Germans in World War Two. Torpedownia, as it's know to locals, is not on any tourist maps, since it's quite far out from the centre and also due to the fact that you are not allowed to go out and climb on it. In fact, local authorities blew up the pedestrian bridge in 1979, long after the Soviets had stripped it of anything worthwhile. Judging by the graffiti, however, that hasn't stopped others boating or swimming out and checking it out.
Torpedownia at sunrise. Photo by Photo by Leszek Pietrukaniec.
Gags about Japanese soldiers still fighting WWII in the jungles of Asia are ten-a-penny. But what about the Germans? You never know your luck, snoop around other concrete bunkers found on the Babie Doły coastline and you may be in for the surprise of your life. On June 25, 1951, Time Magazine reported the discovery of two Wehrmacht soldiers who had apparently been entombed in an underground bunker for the previous six years. The two, along with four comrades, found themselves trapped underground after demolition charges sealed the entrance to the supply store they were looting. Two of the soldiers topped themselves, unable to cope with their confinement, while the other two died of natural causes. Burying their colleagues in a sea of flour the remaining pair survived on the numerous crates of food scattered around, apparently washing in schnapps in order to conserve drinking water. They were finally freed when Polish labourers assigned to rubble cleaning duties stumbled upon the bunker, opening up the entrance to be greeted by the sight of two ghostly soldiers sporting beards running to their knees. A surprise? You bet. In fact, so much of a surprise that one of the soldiers keeled over dead. The whole episode inspired the 1973 Clive Rees film The Blockhouse, a psychological drama starring Peter Sellers and Charles Azvanour. The rotten news is that the integrity of the original story is largely open to question: you won’t find any other source reporting this crazy tale, and absolutely no news on the fate of the sole survivor. So, urban myth or classic anecdote, you decide.

How to get to Babie Doły?

From Gdynia Główna Bus Station and around the centre of Gdynia, keep an eye out for bus no.109, which is clearly-marked Babie Doły. By Uber from the centre of Gdynia, it will cost around 25zł outside of busy periods.

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