Gdansk or in German Danzig (in older English Dantzig), is an old port in Northern Poland, at the Baltic Sea. Throughout the history, Gdansk traditionally belonged to the Kingdom of Poland, but in the past, until 1945, the city had been mainly populated by the German population. Gdansk was a member of the Hanseatic League and even for a period of time, Gdansk had been the capital of Hansa, and the city's links with the divided then Germany were very strong.
Gdansk played in the 15th and 16th centuries an important role in the trade of the world's basic commodity of the time - grain. It is through Gdansk, that the important trading routes exporting Ukrainian harvests direction the harbors of Northern Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, and importing spices, china, textiles and arms. These trading links were at the base of Gdansk prosperity creating the city's complex cultural heritage and its rich architecture. The Kingdom of Poland exerting its power over Gdansk had to accept the city's connection with other German cities and with the German culture.
Poland lost Ukraine to Russia partly in the middle of the 17th century and finally during the 18th century and as a result, Gdansk lost its economical importance. Russian occupation of Gdansk in 1734 and the annexation of the city by Prussia in 1793 did the rest - Gdansk became the monument of the past within Prussia and later, after 1871, within the united Germany. Napoleon Bonaparte (1807) and the treaty of Versailles after the World War I (1919) unsuccessfully tried to solve duality of Polish and German identities of Gdansk, by creating an independent political entity of it - Free City of Gdansk. Hitler used this compromise solution as a pretext to begin the war. The WWII began on September 1, 1939, with the German battleship firing at the Polish Army and Customs post in the Gdansk harbor.
After the WWII, Gdansk returned to Poland. The city has been heavily damaged by the Russian bombing of 1945. It took tens of years to bring it back to its former glory.
Modern history gave a special role to Gdansk - here in the shipyards, the Solidarity movement was born and the fall of communism started. Unthinkable began to happen through a revolt of simple people, their rejection of the socialist political system.
Today Gdansk is a beautiful old city, with its monuments restored, with its historical monuments rich in Polish, German and Dutch elements exposed. Source