Resettling Poles west left ‘third of their civilistion’s physical remains behind’

Poland shifted westwards after 1945 border changes agreed by the Western Allies and Joseph Stalin. The same happened to the defeated Germany. Populations were resettled. But the question is how does one care for the physical remains of Polish civilisation, the buildings, archives, palaces, churches that could not be physically resettled?

See full interview here

Wojciech Konończuk, Deputy Director of the Centre for Eastern Studies in Warsaw was the guest of PolandIN and discussed the latest report published by the Centre on the state of Polish cultural goods in Belarus and Ukraine.

Mr Konończuk estimates that perhaps up to a third of the physical remnants of the polish presence has been left behind in these countries. They are crucial to Polish history and identity. Many however are neglected or have been destroyed. Partly because they are seen as symbols of former Polish rule chiefly through the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A visitor to Lviv, the former Polish Lwów, Soviet Lvov, or Austrian Lemberg may see how the Polish presence is gradually being erased from the history of the place and how the city is being claimed as having been Ukrainian, always.

Like the British in India or the Americans in the West, these Eastern borderlands, the Kresy have a hold on the Polish imagination in the same way.

Second and third generation Poles have adopted former German cities such as Wrocław (Breslau). The passage of time may permit Ukrainians and Belarussians to see these magnificent objects as European and accept their history, good and bad, especially if they see eventual membership of the European Union on the horizon.

Much Polish money is being ploughed into restoring flagship projects. In the interim, many gems of European culture are being left to decay. The Centre’s report provides thoughtful, if sobering reading in this regard.