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Sputniks at the fair in Poznań. This was the answer to the imperialist Americans

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There were pickup trucks, Coca-Cola and a modern pavilion. And all this a year after workers took to the streets demanding bread. The “American Blow” launched in 1957 at the Poznań International Fair had to meet with a riposte. And what not to boast about if not a space program in which the Soviet side was several lengths further than the USA? We invite you on a journey to the fair in Poznań in 1958.

What a debut that was! In 1957, Americans attended the Poznań International Fair for the first time. They did it with a bang. They built their own pavilion in Poznań modeled on Fuller’s dome. It was very innovative and significantly differed from communist standards.

The American Pavilion in 1957MTP archive

– It was a blow to crude socialism. On the one hand, a delightful nylon roofed hall, on the other, semi-trucks, motorboats and a “typical American house” with equipment – things then available to the American worker, such as shiny toasters and modern refrigerators. And all this a year after the events of June. It was just space! – said the late Tomasz Mikszo, archivist of the Poznań International Fair.

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Furnishings of a typical American farmer’s house from 1957.MTP archive

It was not the end – Coca-Cola appeared at the Fair for the first time officially in the People’s Republic of Poland. It didn’t hit public shelves until 15 years later – the license for its bottling in Poland was signed during the rule of Edward Gierek. However, it was not available in Poznań. Poland was divided into spheres of “influence” of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. The former went to eastern Poland and Silesia, and the latter to the western and central parts of the country and Lesser Poland. In the 1960s, Coca-Cola could only be obtained in currency shops – Pewex and Balton.

Action-reaction

Such an entry of the Americans in the era of Cold War rivalry had to meet the reaction of the Soviet Union. It was necessary to respond with something and surprise the visitors of the Poznań International Fair in 1958. That something was replicas of Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2, which were launched into space a year earlier. With the latter, the first animal reached orbit – the dog Laika. The flight of the quadruped to Earth’s orbit preceded the sending of the first man into space. The quadruped lived only a few hours, but that didn’t stop him from telling the world about another great success of the Soviet space program.

In the USSR pavilion, you could admire mock-ups of SputniksMTP archive

The Americans presented themselves in a new place. Fuller’s dome was temporary and went to the Milan Triennale, a major event dedicated to architecture and design. Now their exhibition could be seen in pavilion number 15, a glass cube designed by Reino Aarnio, an American architect of Finnish origin, which was erected by the Italian company Feal. It was one of the most modern facilities at the fair.

SEE ALSO: A toaster like a stone from the moon. “Shocking”

Inside, mainly equipment for factories and agriculture was presented. Nothing as spectacular as last year. Well, maybe apart from the machine for the production of denim trousers, which produced 300 pairs of dungarees or color TVs a day.

Vigilant propagandists took note of this. “Last year’s attempt to impress the Polish viewer with the standard of living in the United States probably had the opposite propaganda effect and at the 27th MTP, this country demonstrated a picture of a modern weaving mill, clothing factory and chicken farm practically adapted to Polish industrial needs” – wrote Jerzy Żelisławski in the Chronicle of the City of Poznań.

Interior of the American Pavilion in 1958MTP archive

The English surprised with their socks

At MTP in 1958, the current proportion in the exhibition area was disturbed. The Soviet Union, which has occupied the largest area in recent years, has prepared a much smaller exhibition this time, occupying 3554 square meters.

Four times as large was occupied by the German Federal Republic (14,312 square meters). Here it was possible to see the sporty version of the wartburg.

Guests from the Federal Republic of Germany presented i.a. MercedesMTP archive

United States had almost twice as much exposure as the USSR (6,726 square meters). It also occupied a larger square Great Britain (4613 square meters), which surprised visitors with a demonstration of the production of colorful socks.

As much as 74 percent of the area intended for foreign exhibitors was occupied by capitalist countries. Shocking? How to explain it? Let’s go back to the Chronicle of the City of Poznań. According to Żelisławski, this difference resulted from… the organization of foreign trade in socialist and capitalist countries.

“If in the latter arrangement, each manufacturing company represents only itself commercially, then one foreign trade center, e.g. of the Soviet Union, has facilities for literally a thousand factories whose selections it exports. a single capitalist company and by a large monopoly headquarters from a socialist country.

The second explanation was … “much more carefully prepared” space and assortment by the socialist states.

MTP poster from 1958CYRIL

The Polish mole delighted guests from abroad

And what could be admired in the Polish part? The exhibitors presented mainly technical equipment. Foreign guests were delighted with Polish food and vodka, as well as “kret” – a machine for drilling holes in the ground.

SEE ALSO: Stone from the Moon, American House and Coca Cola. Here the Iron Curtain was opening and the gray PRL was disappearing

Boasted mainly of exported products of the engineering industry: machine tools, lathes, presses and cranes. “Polish exports of the machine industry, including complete industrial facilities, mining equipment and equipment, find recipients from 70 countries around the world” – emphasized the lector of the fair chronicle.

A ship radar with a range of 50 nautical miles was presented.

There were also a lot of novelties from the automotive industry: the Nysa N57 prototype, built on Warsaw teams, a new tractor from Ursus or caravans from the MST Lublin plant.

The music industry and electrotechnical equipment enjoyed great interest. Calisia’s pianos and radios from Kasprzak and Dzierżoniów were on display, “enjoying the growing interest of the most demanding buyers abroad” – as the newsreel assured.

In total, 38 countries from four continents exhibited at MTP in 1958.

For the first time, trade fair guests could use the Adria trade fair restaurant, and visitors were impressed by the new pavilion designed by Jerzy Staniszkis, called “the umbrella”.

“Umbrella” in 1963MTP archive

SEE ALSO: Iron Maiden played at the wedding in Adria

Main photo source: MTP archive



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