Nowa-Huta - an enormous industrial complex and steelworks, a symbol of industrial Poland and resistance to communist rule. This project was built according to a plan for the first real Socialist town. The execution of such a plan, however, demanded an enormous amount of work and 1000s of workers were brought in from small towns and the countryside in the 50s in order to achieve it. For these people, helping to build this communist dream was a chance of social advance. At the height of building work, 30 000 workers were employed in the then suburb of 250 000 inhabitants. The socialist symbol of Lenin adorned a typical grey slam of Socialist Realist architecture, now replaced by a replica of the Gdańsk crossses. It was not coincidental, however, that this socialist ideal was built in the vicinity of Krakow. The ideals of the working class were with time, according to the plans of communist rulers, to eliminate provincial, clerical and conservative elements still present in the minds of the inhabitants of Poland's former capital.
History, however, took a different course. The first confrontations between workers and the communist rulers ocurred in the 60s resulting from demands for permission to build a church in Nowa Huta. In the 80s, Huta became the centre of the uprising against the communist rulers. At the same time an understanding was reached between the intellectual elite of Krakow and the workers of Nowa Huta.
Today, the two towns lead completely separate lives. Krakow continues to bloom incomparably, whereas the rather sleepy Huta shows evidence of many of the typical problems of the transformation process. The unemployment, crime, steel mills, smokestacks and grimy housing estates are worth visiting for the insight they give into the working class culture of post-war Poland.