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Polish Museums and Selective Forgetting


Poloniusz 4 | 391
26 Jul 2020 #1
The Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, Poland has a permanent exhibition titled "The People of Kraków in the Times of Terror."

The exhibit rightfully addresses both Nazi and Stalinist terror. But surprisingly the exhibit stops abruptly at 1956.

Sure the "Polish October" (aka "Gomułka's thaw") occurred in 1956 with some liberal policies introduced.

However, these changes still fell far short of Western standards and Poland under the PRL regime was never considered a free country.

Does anyone know why "The People of Kraków in the Times of Terror" exhibition doesn't end in 1989 as it should?

The 1956 cutoff year certainly gives a misleading impression that from 1957 to 1989 a truly utopian era was enjoyed by the denizens of Kraków and communism should therefore be considered "normal."
Crow 148 | 9,321
26 Jul 2020 #2
I am curious is there any museum about Roman and Teutonic genocidal crimes on Poles and Slavs in general? Non in history killed that much Poles as Rome did.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,475
26 Jul 2020 #3
As usual with dear Bieganski, he fails to provide the full story.

The exhibition in Kraków is actually designed to tell a story through three years: 1939, 1945 and 1956. The full name of the exhibiton is "People of Kraków in Times of Terror 1939-1945-1956", and so it is divided into three parts accordingly. It isn't intended as a catalogue of terror, but rather as an exhibiton that provides a snapshot into those three periods of time in order to compare the horrors of the Nazi and Soviet occupations.

muzeumkrakowa.pl/exhibitions/people-of-krakow-in-times-of-terror-1939-1945-1956

If Biega...I mean "Poloniusz" has a problem with it, I suggest that he directs a well-written letter (in Polish, of course) to Dr Michał Niezabitowski, director of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow. I'm sure that Dr Niezabitowski (CV here: ihia.up.krakow.pl/pracownicy-up/niezabitowski/ ) will be delighted to learn from Bieg...I mean "Poloniusz" about how history should be correctly presented in the museum. After all, "Poloniusz" clearly has a stellar CV that surpasses the 35 years of experience that Dr Niezabitowski has in the museum.
OP Poloniusz 4 | 391
26 Jul 2020 #4
How unsurprising that you need to refer the matter to others because you personally have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the thread.

I did mention the exhibit covered the topics of Nazi and Soviet terror and pointed out that it only went as far as 1956.

If you actually understood Poland's history you would have known that Nazi and Soviet military occupation of Poland ended in 1945.

Soviet interference and oppression in Poland continued but it didn't end in 1956.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,475
26 Jul 2020 #5
Soviet military occupation of Poland ended in 1945.

Incorrect. Polish scholars give the date as 1956, hence why the exhibition focuses on that year. In that year, an official agreement was signed between the Polish Government and the Soviet Union which regulated the presence of the troops, which is why the Soviet occupation is deemed to have lasted between 1941-1956.

Furthermore, given that you are apparently a world class curator, I strongly suggested that you should write to Dr Niezabitowski and explain to him why his exhibition is wrong. I'm sure it won't be a problem for someone with the name "Poloniusz" to write a well written letter in Polish to explain why the exhibition should be changed.
pawian 176 | 15,374
26 Jul 2020 #6
I'm sure it won't be a problem for someone with the name "Poloniusz" to write a well written letter in Polish

hahaha

Soviet interference and oppression in Poland continued but it didn't end in 1956.

Of course. The communist terror lasted although it wasn`t as intense as before 1956 and after that date it was mostly carried out by Polish communists and their Polish henchmen.

But don`t worry - that period is covered by other museums and exhibitions. E.g., the case of Stanisław Pyjas, murdered on the communist police`s instigation, will be presented in a new exhibition soon. There is a plaque to his memory, too.

histmag.org/Na-strazy-pamieci-wystawa-Sprawa-Stanislawa-Pyjasa-wkrotce-w-Krakowie-20989

The defence of the cross in Nowa Huta or street fights and killing of Bodgan Włosik after the declaration of martial law is covered by the Museum of Nowa Huta.

krakow.wyborcza.pl/krakow/7,44425,25912930,pierwszy-nowohucki-bunt-wystawa-w-60-lecie-obrony-krzyza.html

etc etc.



delphiandomine 88 | 18,475
26 Jul 2020 #7
that period is covered by other museums and exhibitions.

Indeed it is. The exhibition that the OP complains about is merely a snapshot of Krakow's history during three years, designed to allow the visitor the chance to compare and contrast those three periods of Polish history. It isn't intended as a catch-all museum of the PRL, as it's a topic that has been explored elsewhere, such as in the excellent "Centrum Historii Zajezdnia" in Wrocław which does a terrific job of outlining the history of the city in the 1945-1989 era.

and after that date it was mostly carried out by Polish communists and their henchmen.

Most scholars researching that period in Europe tend to differentiate pre-1956 and post-1956 for several reasons. It's very clear to anyone that knows their history that the Soviets took a back seat after that time, and even after they pacified the Prague Spring, they put trusted Czechoslovak henchmen in place to run things, not Soviet generals.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,475
27 Jul 2020 #9
As a foreigner, he wasn`t aware of it.

I suppose it's the difference between reading about a museum on the internet and actually visiting it in-person.

Yes, also the martial law was done by Polish communists.

Actually, this is something that rather proves the OP's point. This little fact is rarely stressed, and IMO, there's a need for a museum focusing on martial law as a significant event. For me, despite having read many books on the topic and having watched many films, it's still unthinkable as to just how much the Polish regime clamped down on citizens.
pawian 176 | 15,374
27 Jul 2020 #10
That is all regimes` character. If we weren`t in the EU, PiS would certainly resort to Putin or Lukashenka-style methods.


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