BUMAR-ŁABĘDY - a showcase of the Polish defense industry

At the Warsaw FilmAT festival, one of the most important categories is the corporate and institutional film competition. The latest, 17th edition of the festival brought several superbly realised pictures depicting Polish industrial plants. One of them was a film promoting Zakłady Mechaniczne “BUMAR – ŁABĘDY” S.A. The authors and producers aimed it at domestic and foreign arms industry players and military equipment enthusiasts. The film received a level of interest rarely seen with this type of production: in the seven months since its premiere on YouTube, it has garnered more than 247,000 views and viewers have posted more than 520 comments. Not surprisingly, the film won one of the main prizes at the f estival. The jury appreciated not only the film’s subject matter, but also its artistic values.On the screen, we can see what is currently being done in the production halls, including the modernisation of Leopard tanks. Everything is given in a visually appealing form, enriched with subtitles providing information on production processes.

The war that has been going on for a year in Ukraine, a country neighbouring Poland and close to us for historical and cultural reasons, makes us realise how important it is to have a strong army to defend us against an aggressor.

It is therefore very important to have a national arms industry supporting the military with its production and services. In Poland, such plants belong to the Polish Armaments Group (PGZ S.A.). The concern was established in 2013 and consists of dozens of companies of strategic importance for the country’s defence system.

Zakłady Mechaniczne BUMAR – ŁABĘDY is one of the leading companies in the industry. It has been in continuous operation for over 70 years, although the beginnings of the arms industry in Łabędy date back to 1938, when the construction of a steelworks began, with special production being launched in 1942. In 1951, the Łabędy Mechanical Works was established on the basis of the existing Investment and Repair Plant. In the 1950s and 1960s, they produced not only armoured military equipment, but also pioneering products for the civilian market, including tools, washing machines, excavators, tractors and even cranes.

At the turn of 1974-75, several other metal industry enterprises from all over the country were incorporated into the plant and renamed Kombinat Urządzeń Mechanicznych Bumar-Łabędy. Even then Łabędy was a district of the city of Gliwice.

As for many Polish enterprises, the beginnings of the political transformation of the 1990s were very tough. Fortunately, the plants survived and in 1993 were transformed into a joint stock company under the name Zakłady Mechaniczne “BUMAR-ŁABĘDY” S.A. in Gliwice.

And what do Company representatives actually boast about? ”Company has been specialising in the production, overhauls and retrofitting of armoured vehicles. Modrnization packages and overhaul services covering all types of armoured vehicles include Leopard tanks, PT-91 tanks, Armoured Recovery Vehicles WZT-2 and WZT-3 as well as various types of T-72 family tanks. Zakłady Mechaniczne “BUMAR-ŁABĘDY” S.A. is the general contractor of Leopard 2A4 tanks modernization to Leopard 2PL/M1 version. As the only plant in Poland has its own testing ground. More than 70-year experience both in terms of production and technology creates the company’s potential. Successive generations of armoured equipment supplied to the Polish Army and foreign clients have established the company’s position on the domestic as well as global equipment and armament market.”

Interesting is also the history of the locality of Łabędy, the seat of the company, which became a district of Gliwice in 1964. The origins of the settlement probably date back to the 3rd or 4th century, while there was a church and a parish here in the Middle Ages. Łabędy was a village until 1954 and between 1954 and 1964 it functioned as an independent town. There is an ongoing dispute over the origin of the name. In a list of emoluments of the Bishop of Wrocław from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, the village is called “Labant”. The nineteenth-century German teacher-historian and geographer Heinrich Adamy, in a work describing the names of Silesian localities, claimed that the oldest recorded name was “Ława” and derived from the Slavic word ”ława” in the sense of a wooden footbridge or bridge transformed in Latin form into Labant and in German form into Laband. There is also a well-known theory, repeated by, among others, the Silesian activist priest Konstanty Damrot, that the name originates from swans visiting the area: Laband, in the Silesian dialect Labenty or Labendy, meaning “place, place of swans”.

After the First World War, most of the inhabitants of the village of Laband were Poles. A Polish People’s Council was active here. In the First Silesian Uprising, the village was captured on 23 August 1919 by inhabitants belonging to the Polish Military Organisation of Upper Silesia. During the plebiscite in March 1921, out of 3023 votes cast, 1683 were in favour of Poland, 1332 in favour of Germany and 8 were invalid. During the Third Silesian Uprising on 4 May 1921, fierce battles between the Gliwice regiment of Stanisław Mastalerz and German militia took place here. The village was in Polish hands until the end of the Third Uprising. Unfortunately, later the area fell to the German side. After the Second World War, a Soviet transit camp for Germans and Silesians existed here. Several thousand people were deported from it to work in the depths of the Soviet Union. The official Polish name of Łabędy was approved on 7 May 1946 in an order of the Minister of Administration and Regained Territories.

Nowadays Łabędy is mainly associated in our country with the BUMAR-ŁABĘDY plant, which is the flagship of this district of Gliwice, a brand well-known not only in Poland but also abroad. It is also a showcase for the Polish arms industry.


Zbigniew Żmudzki

Translation: Wojciech Jaworek

Photos: Zakłady Mechaniczne Bumar Łabędy S.A.

1st Prize in Category Image film
International Competition FilmAT Festival 2022
Promotional film “BUMAR-ŁABĘDY S.A.”
Zakłady Mechaniczne „BUMAR-ŁABĘDY” S.A. /2021

BUMAR-ŁABĘDY – a showcase of the Polish defense industry