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This is the beginning of the story of a young generation of people who came to know about the past only through the tales of their parents, and who think of socialism mostly in terms of rundown Trabants and Lenin statues. How does it feel to be searching for one‘s true roots and one‘s own identity? How does it feel to be growing up between the preserved remains of planned economy and real-life capitalism?
Nowa Huta was the first planned city in Poland and is still regarded as a
prototype of socialist architecture. It was founded in the late 1940s as a steel production conglomerate and is located less than 20 kilometers away from the city centre of Krakow. The communist regime designed Nowa Huta a workers‘ community in direct opposition to the catholic character and bourgeois attitude of Krakow. The new city was to serve as a symbol for a better life and a breeding ground for the socialist ideology.
Nowa Huta‘s steel plant was to provide a large number of workers with
secure jobs and to assure the livelihood of many generations to come.
But then came the political and economic change of the 1990s and with it the privatisation of the factories. Thousands of steelworkers lost their jobs and were thrust into the ranks of the unemployed. Of the once 40.000 jobs only about 2.000 are left today. The hope for a better life has vanished, the dream of socialism is over, and more than half of Nowa Huta‘s population has grown very old. The rest of the inhabitants dreams of better-paid jobs abroad.
For some time young people were not only lacking a positive outlook, but also ideas of how to re-shape their city and how to fashion Nowa Huta into their old new home. This opportunity was finally taken up by young pioneers and university students from Krakow who, attracted by low rents, are now beginning to explore Nowa Huta, and to view it as a loveable and liveable place in its own right.