The event that was to show the world in a clear way that Silesia has always been Polish. Hence the Recovered Territories, hence the repatriates (Latin word repatriatio means “return to homeland”). The Exhibition of the Recovered Territories, organized in 1948, was one of the largest that took place in the entire history of the Centennial Hall. The exhibition, which lasted from 21 July to 31 October, had a wide impact in Poland and abroad. Its Organisers intended to show the successes of the new, folklore authorities in the territories regained after the Second World War. In short – the authorities wanted to legitimize their actions. The world’s mandate.
The extensive exhibition area had been divided into two sectors. “Areas A” – the Centennial Hall, the square in front of the Hall and the Four Domes Pavilion housed exhibitions related to social, political and geographical issues. The focal point was marked by the Iglica designed by engineer Stanisław Hempel. Yes, the Iglica. A pin stuck in the Prussian pride. Comma placed in the German narrative of Silesia. It deliberately cut the Centennial Hall in half, like a sharp knife cuts a huge cake. The animated communists were afraid that their achievements would show as pale with the German technical thought. That is why they decided to take it over. And they stuck their own flag – in the spirit of the phrase: “Odra’s flow sounds in Polish”..
“Areas B”, today belonging to the Wrocław Zoo, were intended for exhibitions on social and economic issues. Public and private companies exhibited their goods in numerous but small buildings. Many of them were sold at reduced prices, so that visitors could freely purchase products that were difficult to access on a daily basis in a country destroyed by the war. The exhibition thus became at the same time a great marketplace. Metaphorically, one can say that they traded history there. Practically – scarce goods.
Enormous financial outlays, the presence of important representatives of state authorities – including Bolesław Bierut – and the special overtones of the event meant that the 100-day exhibition was visited by millions of citizens. This can be called a success. However, despite the high attendance and propaganda hype, the Exhibition of the Recovered Territories ended in financial fiasco. Gigantic cost of the project, amounting to 715 million PLN of the period, was covered only in about one third. However, Wrocław gained – organisation of the Exhibition accelerated the cleaning up of the city and renovation of some of the buildings.