First Volume of Biographical Dictionary of Graduates Published
The first volume of a GMU bibliographical dictionary dedicated to the graduates of the Tczew Maritime School has been released. The book contains the bibliographies of nearly 190 graduates from Poland's first maritime school - many of them extraordinary students that lived in extraordinary, pioneering times. They began their maritime education in a country without maritime traditions, and initially, even without prospects of work at sea. It is these graduates that created, fought for, and established the country's maritime tradition - largely thanks to the school's' outstanding teachers. Their stories are indeed remarkable.
The title of the volume Tczewiacy [Tczewnians] – is how they referred to themselves - those who proudly wore the School's badge (designed by student Jan Gottschalk in 1922/23) on their blazers. In 1930, the school was transferred to the grandiose buildings built on Morska street in Gdynia, the school celebrated its 10th anniversary, a graduates’ association was founded, and the first reunion was organised.
When WWII broke out, some of the graduates were drafted or volunteered to join the military to fight. Many of them entered the Riverine Flotilla of the Polish Navy (Flotylla Pińska) in the ranks of the Land Coastal Defence division. Others fought at sea, sailing in convoys with supplies of materials, food, weapons, and fuels for the allies, and participating in the invasion of Normandy.
Many died, many others never fulfilled their dream to one day return to Poland, to a country free from Soviet communism. Those that did return under Stalin's rule were persecuted, thrown in prison and sentenced, others were forbidden to work at sea.
All the while, the graduates' association survived, until at the end of the 1960s the "Tczewnian Circle" was founded as an unofficial association - since the official status was only granted by the communist Polish United Workers Party. Although they wrote to each other, on many occasions, for years, it was only in 1969, when the 50th anniversary of the school was approaching, that they got together with the aim of putting up a memorial plaque on the school's building - which they did on 25th September 1970.
The most important holiday for the Tczew graduates was 8th December - the day of the ceremonial consecration of the School in 1920. On that day, each year, those who could gathered in Tczew for a collegiate, traditional dinner on the occasion of the School Celebration, with congratulations and best wishes received from many corners of the world.
The book, which has been compiled on the initiative of GMU Rector, Professor Adam Weintrit, himself a 1985 graduate of the Faculty of Navigation of the Gdynia Higher Maritime School, might have been called the last reunion of the graduates of Tczew Maritime School. An incomplete reunion, as the book contains almost 90 per cent of the Tczew School's graduates. Not included are those on who no information, or barely any, information was found. Those that are included also vary in length - some are extensive, whereas others provide only an outline. Where the latter is the case, it was decided that it was better to provide what little information we had than nothing at all. Should more information come to light, an annexe could be added to the next volume.
Work on the next volume - State Maritime School Graduates 1931-1945 has already begun.
Małgorzata Sokołowska, Joanna Stasiak