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  • Thu

    Three States, Three Gateways, One Key: A Port-City. Gdynia, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Rostock in their new roles – an outline.

    3.00-5.00 pmLeibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO)

    Presentation given by Marcin Szerle, an EEGA fellow with the following topic:
    Three States, Three Gateways, One Key: A Port-City. Gdynia, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Rostock in their new roles – an outline.

    My presentation aims at explaining the goal and initial concept of the project concerning the recent history of three port cities – Gdynia, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Rostock, along with describing, in part, the results of research on the subject, as conducted by the author. The Leibniz ScienceCampus EEGA scholarship allowed the author to participate in inspiring lectures and workshops, as well as conferences in Lepizig, and to conduct queries in the libraries there. It also allowed for further research in libraries, archives, and press collections in Germany, the US, and Poland, as well as for active participation in the ASEEES conference in Chicago.
    The 20th century history of Gdynia, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Rostock show a lot of similarities, due to the role of gateway harbors which they fulfilled in the countries which invested in those harbors – young and ambitious countries, which realized the importance of access to the sea and wanted to utilize it properly. Such circumstances for establishing gateway cities have been known, for instance, in Tsarist Russia (Sankt Petersburg or Odessa). In the last 50 years we could also observe them in the new, post-colonial countries, as was the case with Dar es-Salaam in Africa, and nowadays we can see a conflict arising around the access to international waters in the case of Croatia and Slovenia (Koper).
    The mechanisms working in the port cities are similar, but the circumstances differ, as do the individual histories and influences of the harbors in question – here, respectively, in the re-established Poland, newly created Israel, and the developing German Democratic Republic. Even though the changes in the three cities took place diachronically, comparing them side by side in the future project appears worthwhile and interesting, for the cities are brought together by the geographical closeness and the partially similar, European cultural environment. Their place in the 20th century history is assured, and similarities between the three can be seen: the dynamics of changes, the scope of investments conducted, the support of connections to a wider world, and the recognition abroad, with harbors serving as calling cards for their countries. This serves to reduce the obvious differences, born from the ancient heritage of Jaffa, the Hanseatic past of Rostock, or the image of Gdynia, created only in the interwar period.


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