On the north side of Gdańsk, near the tip of the Westerplatte Peninsula, stand the remains of the Westerplatte barracks. This fortified structure is the site of the beginning of World War II, as it was ground zero for the Nazi Germany invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. On that date the German battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the 188 men defending the barracks. Thus began the Battle of Westerplatte, in which the Polish garrison held for an incredible seven days against overwhelming invading German forces.
The pounding taken by this reinforced concrete structure has to be seen to be believed. The barracks withstood the week-long onslaught of naval artillery, Stuka dive bombing, heavy field artillery, and 570 German soldiers.
Eventually, Westerplatte barracks fell. The Polish garrison suffered fifteen dead, another forty or so wounded. The Germans on the other hand lost 50 men, with another 150 wounded.
At this site today stands a memorial to the defenders, and a cemetery for those who lost their lives: