“A Sound Mind in a Sound Body” – Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne „Sokół”/ “Falcon” Gymnastics Society in Gdynia (25 objects)
In the second half of the 19th century, in the Slavic countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the circles of Pan-Slavism proponents, ideas appeared to improve the physical and spiritual condition of the Slavic Societies. It was supposed to revive the national spirit. Sports organisations called “Sokół” were founded. The first organisations of this type were started in Czech Republic in 1862. Galicia, or more precisely Lviv, was the cradle of the society in Poland. In the second half of 1866, Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne “Sokół” was established there.
After Poland regained independence, the organisation developed quickly, even in Gdynia – a city which was being built from scratch. Encyklopedia Gdyni / The Encyclopedia of Gdynia says that the first “nest” in Gdynia was established on the initiative of Jan Kamrowski in July 1921. It had 40 members – falcons and falconesses, mainly from the fishing circles. On 14th August 1921, it had its first public gymnastics show in Augustyn Skwiercz’s restaurant in Starowiejska Street. Its activity was probably merely sporadic.
In archive documents, there is information that the Society was only founded in Gdynia in 1925. In one of the weekly reports on the activity of social organisations from 1930, there is information that in August 1930 the Gdynia “Sokół” celebrated its 5th anniversary during which its flag was blessed on 27th August.
It was no accident that in most cities doctors who promoted healthy lifestyle were the initiators of the society’s foundation. In Gdynia, it was the same. The first “nest” was founded in 1925, by Bolesław Skowroński MD (1890-1951). He was the first president of the Gdynia Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne “Sokół”.
Throughout the interwar period, in the structures of the Pomeranian “Sokół” 6 nests operated in Gdynia permanently or temporarily. Four of them: Gdynia I (from 1925), Chylonia (from 1930), Gdynia II (female “nest” from 1932) and Orłowo (from 1937) were active when World War II broke out. The remaining two, in Oksywie and Witomino, worked temporarily.
After World War II, in 1946, the Chylonia “nest” was reopened. It worked for less than two years, until 1948.
In the Gdynia City Museum’s collection, there are more than ten photographs connected with the work of the Chylonia “nest” of “Sokół” both before and after World War II. The pictures of the district meeting of “Sokół” in Gdynia from 1932 are an interesting set.