An outline of the history of Gdańsk University of Technology in 1945-1989 | Gdańsk University of Technology

An outline of the history of Gdańsk University of Technology in 1945-1989

Professor Edmund Wittbrodt, PhD, DSc, Eng

Zniszczona fasada Gmachu Głównego, wiosna 1945 r.

First years 

Already in January 1945, preparations began to take over the polytechnic. At the beginning of April, a delegation of the Ministry of Education for  Gdańsk University of Technology composed of: PhD Stanisław Turski - chairman, Eng. Kazimierz Kopecki, PhD Kazimierz Kubik, Eng. Franciszek Otto and Stanisław Szymański came to Gdańsk. By a decree of 24 May 1945, the polytechnic was transformed into a Polish state academic school.

The work on securing and reconstruction of university buildings was started immediately. In August 1945, a library was established, in which the remaining cathedral collections and antique prints were kept. The Organisation of Students of Gdańsk University of Technology Bratnia Pomoc (Brotherly Help), referring to the pre-war organization, started operating. The first staff came mainly from Lviv and Warsaw Polytechnics.

Prof. Stanisław Łukasiewicz became the rector. Six faculties were established, whose deans were professors: Marian Osiński (Faculty of Architecture), Aleksander Rylke (Faculty of Shipbuilding), Włodzimierz Wawryk (Faculty of Chemistry), Karol Taylor (Faculty of Mechanics), Kazimierz Kopecki (Electrical Faculty), Karol Pomianowski (Faculty of Civil and Water Engineering). The first teaching staff numbered 112 people. They included, among others, the following professors: Władysław Czerny, Mieczysław Dębicki, Władysław Florjański, Maksymilian Tytus Huber, Franciszek Otto, Adolf Polak, and Mieczysław Wolfke.

Although the teaching conditions for staff and students were very difficult, learning began on 22 October 1945. The first lecture was given by prof. Ignacy Adamczewski. However, due to insufficient heating of the rooms, a break was ordered. The official inauguration took place on 9 April 1946 at Auditorium Maximum. The audience gathered for the first time within the walls of Gdańsk University of Technology listened to the song Gaude Mater Poloniae, and the inaugural lecture was given by prof. M.T. Huber. 1647 students started the 1945/1946 academic year.

Profesor Władysław Floriański w otoczeniu ekipy odbudowującej budynki uczelni.


The university was largely destroyed. The main building suffered the most - 60 percent of its cubic capacity was destroyed. War damage was estimated at 16 percent of the total cubic capacity of all buildings, and glazing shortages at 80%. The fence and broken gates needed repairs.

In the reconstruction of buildings helped the candidates for studies and academics. The Brotherly Help of Students of Gdańsk University of Technology appealed to the academic community with a request to work for 80 hours removing rubble and rebuilding both the university of technology and the entire city. Already in June, the university's power plant was launched, and in July the rebuilding of the walls and roof of the Materials Strength Laboratory began. Secured machines were also used to service industrial facilities being rebuilt along the Coast. The reconstruction of the Chemical Laboratory was also started. In view of the upcoming academic year everyone focused on the preparation of lecture halls, drawing room and laboratories, as well as the organization of deans’ offices and the library. The reconstruction of the most damaged main building lasted the longest. It housed: the main library, the rector's office, the bursar and the Department of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. The assembly hall was also rebuilt.

Wydział Budowy Okrętów

University expansion

The expansion of the university became necessary as the number of students increased. At the end of the 1940s, the High Voltage and Distribution Equipment Laboratory was launched. In the 1950s, the Radio Engineering Pavilion was added, and the following constructions were finished: extensions in the building of the Faculty of Chemistry, the building of Chemistry, the experimental hall for the Faculty of Water Engineering, the Building of Water Engineering and the connector between the buildings of the Materials Strength Laboratory and the Reinforced Concrete Laboratory, intended for the Faculty of Civil Engineering, a new boiler room and transformer station, wing of the building for the High Voltage Department, building for the Shipbuilding Department and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the Laboratory of Machine Materials Technology. As a result, the volume of university buildings increased by 65 percent in relation to the post-war period.

In the sixties and seventies, the following buildings were added: Electronics Department, the "B" wing of the Main Building, the building of the Chemical Department and the Ship Institute, the Small Printing House pavilion, the building for the Department of the Chief Engineer of Apparatus and the building for the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. This resulted in further growth of cubature by 185 percent in relation to the post-war period.

The demand for student housing also increased. At the beginning, two student housing estates were built at Hibnera Street (at - present Do Studzienki) and Wyspiańskiego Street, and in the 1950s as many as seven new dorms were added. Three further dormitories were built in the seventies and eighties, as well as: Hotel Asystencki No. 1, canteen building No. 6, Hotel Asystencki No. 2, the complex of the Academic Sports Center, Recreation Center in Czarlina, the building of the Health Care and a swimming pool.

Prof. Bukowski

Former Polish students

Although the traditions referred to by Gdańsk University of Technology were mainly associated with professors coming from Lviv and Warsaw Polytechnics, the staff associated with the university in the pre-war period were of great importance.

About 40 former students and university graduates from the Free City period were associated with Gdańsk University of Technology, including professors: Stanisław Błaszkowiak, Bronisław Bukowski, Alfons Hoffman, Jerzy Doerffer, Józef Kazimierczak, Walerian Libura,

Roman Lipowicz, Witold Nowacki, Wojciech Orszulok, Jerzy Pacześniak, Jan Piasecki, Aleksy Potocki, Aleksander Potyrała, Janusz Stanisławski, Janusz Staszewski, Mieczysław Rodkiewicz and Witold Urbanowicz.

They engaged in the training of personnel for the shipbuilding industry. Already during the war professor Alexander Potyrała organized shipbuilding courses at the secret Warsaw Polytechnic. After the war, together with professor Aleksander Rylk, they organized the Shipbuilding Faculty at Gdańsk University of Technology. He also organized the "Conradinum" State High School of Shipbuilding in Gdańsk.

Over 100 students of the pre-war polytechnic joined the reconstruction and development of the industry destroyed during the war. Over 20 of them were among the management of scientific institutes and state offices, almost 40 worked in the key industry, most in: energy, mining, metallurgy, sugar production and architecture.

Almost 40 joined the creation of the Polish shipbuilding industry. Professor Witold Urbanowicz, as the head of the maritime operational group, together with Wacław Czarnowski was involved in the organization of Polish shipyards. He was its first general director and then technical director of the Union of Polish Shipyards. He founded the Maritime Technical Institute (renamed the Maritime Institute). On his initiative, ship architecture developed, and Gdańsk University of Technology, as the first university in the world, educated staff in this specialty.

Prof. Doerffer w stoczni

Relationships with the economy 

The Polytechnic had a huge impact on the reconstruction and development of Gdańsk and the whole region. The Shipbuilding Faculty was active in the field of shipbuilding, sailing and fishing, and the other departments - construction and architecture, mechanics, chemistry and energy.

The works of professor M.T. Huber regarding the theory of elasticity were at the highest world level; professor A. Polak constructed a steam engine used on the first Polish seagoing ship s / s "Sołdek". Professor A. Rylke is the author of the lateral launching technique, and professor Jerzy Doerffer is the author of the method of half hull construction. Professor L. Kobyliński is the creator of the first Polish hydrofoil "Zryw". Professor W. Urbanowicz co-organized Polish shipyards. Professor W. Tomaszewski designed port facilities. In the studio of professor M. Dębicki, the first Polish truck "Star 20" was created, and professor E.T. Geisler – built the first Polish metalworking machine. The creator of the post-war concept of building cities and developing the coastal belt was professor W. Czerny. The architects influenced the historical reconstruction of the main city in Gdańsk. The basis for restoring the former shape of the city was prepared under the supervision of professor M. Osiński. Professor W. Nowacki was a world-class specialist in building mechanics, theory of elasticity and thermoelasticity.

Hydrotechnical facilities related to the expansion and construction of ports, roads and hydropower plants were dealt with by professors: W. Balcerski, R. Cebertowicz, St. Hückel and K. Pomianowski. Professor R. Cebertowicz dealt with land scaling, mainly under threatened historic buildings. The power industry was developed by professors: R. Szewalski - constructor of the first Polish steam turbine, K. Kopecki - creator of the comprehensive energy science school, as well as St. Szpor - an outstanding expert on atmospheric discharges and protection against their effects. Professors: D. Tilgner, H. Niewiadomski and A. Ledóchowski had significant achievements in the field of food chemistry and drug research.

Protesty studentów Politechniki Gdańskiej

Difficult times

In the history of Gdańsk University of Technology there were difficult periods associated with the active involvement of employees and students in the socio-political affairs of the country, as well as in opposition activities in 1945-1989. These were: Student strikes '46, Academic Scouts’ Circle, Wodnik, Bratnia Pomoc '49, October '56, Students' Parliament of GUT '57, March '68, December '70, Student Solidarity Committee of the Tri-City '77,

August '80, ISTU Solidarność, ISA GUT, Opposition of the martial law, Student strikes '88 and June '89. The consequence was harassment, suspension from classes, relegation from university, arrests and imprisonment. Withholding scientific promotions and foreign trips of employees was quite painful.

The activity of Bratnia Pomoc of Students of Gdańsk University of Technology was short-lived. After a high-profile case if ‘Jednodniówka’ it was brutally interrupted in 1949, and the disciplinary commission relegated four students as a result of its issue, while professor Wiktor Wiśniewski was transferred to the Wrocław University of Technology as a punishment. The repressions affected professor Hilary Sipowicz, convicted in the late 1940s. and 1950s for a long term in prison. As a consequence of the events of March 1968, professor Damazy Tilgner was unjustly expelled from the university (the professor's honor and dignity was restored after political changes in Poland). The case of PhD Emil Taszner, removed from the university, was also painful. In the history of the university, especially after the imposition of martial law in 1981, there were also numerous repressions.

All these events were celebrated by the uncovering of a plaque commemorating the XXX anniversary of the establishment of the Independent Solidarity Trade Union (2010), with the participation of the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Wałęsa and Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland Bogdan Borusewicz.

Budowa Wydziału Okrętowego

Organizational changes

The development of the university required many organizational changes. In addition to the faculties established in 1945, the following faculties were created: Agricultural Engineering, later transformed into  the Agrotechnical Faculty (dissolved in 1952). In 1948, the Faculty. Of Civil and Water Engineering was divided into: the Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Faculty of Water Engineering, while the Faculty of Electrical Engineering was divided into the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Communications, which in 1967 was transformed in the Faculty of Electronics. In 1956, the Mechanical Faculty was divided into the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Machine Technology, which in 1965 adopted the names: the Faculty of Machine Construction and the Faculty of Mechanical Technology. The latter one later transformed into the Faculty of Machine Technology and Production Organization (1989). A Consultation Point of Gdańsk University of Technology was also created in Elbląg (1954), and was later transformed into a Group of Branches of Gdańsk University of Technology in Elbląg (1969).

After March '68 organizational changes took place for political reasons. Departments were closed and institutes were created instead. At the same time, the Faculty of Architecture, the Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Faculty of Water Engineering, already functioning as institutes, were combined into the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture. Two or three institutes were created at each faculty, and the Faculty of Shipbuilding was changed into the Shipping Institute. Three new inter-faculty institutes were also created: the Institute of Mathematics, the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Social Sciences.

In 1971, the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture was divided into: the Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Institute of Civil Engineering and the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering. In 1975, the Institute of Civil Engineering was transformed into the Faculty of Civil Engineering, and in 1981 the Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning – into the Faculty of Architecture. Whereas in 1982 the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering was transformed into the Faculty of Hydraulic Engineering. In 1984, the Faculty of Technical Physics and Applied Mathematics was created, as a result of the merger of the Institute of Mathematics and the Institute of Physics.

Zespół muzyczny studentów Politechniki Gdańskiej pod kierownictwem Franciszka Orzażewskiego


At the beginning there were 1647 students, yet their number began to increase rapidly. In 1956, there were 6,752 students. However, during the period of socio-political crises and in connection with the situation of graduates on the labor market, their number decreased. At the end of the 1950s it amounted to 5,171. In the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, it increased again to 8,865 in 1975. Another crisis caused their decline again. At the end of the eighties there were 5495 students.

Students actively participated in the life of the university. This concerned especially social and living matters, activities of scientific circles, culture, sport and tourism. From the beginning, the Brotherly Help of Students of Gdańsk University of Technology (Bratnia Pomoc), as well as the Circle of Ship Technology Students 'Korab' operated in ‘Bratniak’. In the 1950s and 1960s Gdańsk became the ‘capital of student culture’ in Poland. The ‘Bim-Bom’ theater, with Jacek Fedorowicz, Bogumił Kobiela and Zbigniew Cybulski, and Kabaret ‘π’ were active here. ‘Żak’, the ‘Kwadratowa’ club and clubs located in student houses became the center of student life. Students had their ‘Student Chronicle’ Film Discussion Club DKF, SAR Student Radio Agency and Gdańsk University of Technology Choir. In the 1950s, the self-government activity of the Student Parliament of Gdańsk University of Technology was pioneering.

The Academic Sports Association played an inspirational and organizational role in the student sports and recreation movement. Regular spring and autumn rallies were organized, combined with singing student songs called ‘Bazuna’ and ‘Fify’.