Memory Politics in Poland: The Case of the Museum of WWII in Gdańsk
Prof. Dr. Paweł Machcewicz (Warsaw)
The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk opened its doors in March 2017, becoming the largest historical museum in Poland and one of largest of its kind in the whole world. In the recent years it has also turned into one of the biggest battlefields in the realm of memory politics and the politics of history in Poland. From its inception the Museum of the Second World has been attacked by the nationalist right-wing forces as “too European”, “pseudo-universalistic” and “not Polish enough”, which cast a big shadow over its future after Law and Justice Party had come to power. As a result, its permanent exhibition is currently being changed, which caters to the demands of the current political leadership. In his talk Paweł Machcewicz will elucidate the history of the museum’s creation and the reactions it brought about in more detail and locate them in the larger context of the current politics of history in Poland. The event will also feature a presentation of his book about the museum, which was recently translated into German.
Prof. Dr. Paweł Machcewicz is a historian, professor at the Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He is the founding director of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk (until 2017) and a co-founder of the Institute of National Remembrance. He is the author of the books Rebellious Satellite: Poland 1956 (2009) and Poland`s War on Radio Free Europe, 1950-1989 (2014), as well as the editor and co-author of the two-volume series Jedwabne and Beyond (2002). He has also published about politics of history and memory conflicts in Poland and East Central Europe after 1989, i.a. Historical Battles 2000-2011 (2012). His most recent book Muzeum describes the history of creating the Museum of the Second World in Gdańsk and the controversies it evoked (published in German in 2018 under the title Der umkämpfte Krieg. Das Museum des Zweiten Weltkriegs in Danzig. Entstehung und Streit).
Moderation: Professor Dr. Andrii Portnov (Frankfurt/Oder)