In an interview with PolandIN Magdalena Gawin, Under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture explains the significance of the history policy being pursued by the current government.
The minister argues that Poland is only now discovering its history from the period of German occupation during WWII. This is because up until recently Poland lacked the documentary sources. Now, thanks to the creation of the Pilecki Institute and agreements with western research centres this is changing.
The gaps in history often include those Poles who helped Jews. They too often were not honoured by Yad Vashem and “forgotten by us here in Poland”, regrets minister Gawin.
It is also the duty of the state, she argues , to honour those Poles who died during the war outside of Poland. She cites the killing of Polis intellectuals in the Gusen concentration camp in Austria. “Extermination of Polish intelligentsia was a rare example of totalitarianism at work”.
But Poland also has to remember those who helped Poles during the war. Ms Gawin gives Ukrainians as an example. “Many Ukrainians helped Poles and saw their own families killed by Ukrainian nationalists forces because of that” she explains.
FInally, the minister felt that the war hero Witold Pilecki was the kind of unifying figure that Polish history brings to the table in a pan-European context. The man who volunteered to infiltrate a German Nazi concentration camp and organized resistance within it is a unique case in European history. “He was a hero of Europe” she concluded.
See full interview here.