A – Minorities, national belonging, and state-building

Exclusion, inclusion and commemoration of minorities during and after World War II in Poland

Event Details

  • Date

    Thursday, 25 June - 13:00 – 15:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    A – Minorities, national belonging, and state-building
Convenor
  • Aleksandra Kmak-Pamirska (Pilecki Institute Warsaw)
Chair
  • Witold Stankowski (Pilecki Institute in Warsaw)
Commentator
  • Witold Stankowski (Pilecki Institute in Warsaw)
Panelists
  • Bartłomiej Kapica (Pilecki Institute Warsaw)
  • Aleksandra Kmak-Pamirska (Pilecki Institute Warsaw)
  • Nina Seiler (Universität Zürich, Slavisches Seminar)

Papers

  • Bartłomiej Kapica
    From ideological dispersion to physical expulsion – the case of Marxist Revisionists in Poland (1956-1968)

    From ideological dispersion to physical expulsion – the case of Marxist Revisionists in Poland (1956-1968)

    This paper analyses the evolution of so-called Marxist Revisionists in Poland and their fate in the anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968. Many of these were of Jewish origin. The informal group consisted of intellectuals who formerly supported the Stalinist regime but after Stalin’s death became critical towards the reality of the “socialist state” in Poland. For their generation communism had become a path to modernization and social advancement, neglecting at the beginning its cruel essence. I will examine how they embraced the communist ideology and later tried to overcome its limitations and political usage. This attracted the party’s attention and brought it’s reaction, forcing them to limit their intellectual activity. They became a minority in party’s apparatus, and later victims of the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968. I will also focus on their position in a society ruled by the communist party – how they became isolated and perceived through propaganda as “agents of Zionism”. *The project has been financed by the National Science Center upon the decision DEC 2012/05/N/HS3/00968.*
  • Nina Seiler
    Crisis of Communitas: the Polish anti-Semitic campaign around 1968

    Crisis of Communitas: the Polish anti-Semitic campaign around 1968

    In Poland, the years 1967-70 witnessed an officially instrumented campaign against so-called “Zionist cosmopolites”, expelling them from the national-communist Polish community. Significantly, both “national communism” as well as “Zionist cosmopolitism” seem paradoxical from an ideological viewpoint. Indeed the remaining Poles of Jewish descent were accused of noxious (inter)nationalism by the Polish Workers’ Party that itself established a toxic nationalist discourse while still nominally being committed to internationalism. Playing out affects in a political way, the authorities provoked mechanisms of (auto)immunisation: Not only were Poles of Jewish descent excluded from the national community, but society in general became more atomised and mistrusting. In an overall view, these events lead to a crisis of “communitas” – the egalitarian society envisaged by communism – and are often seen as the death of the communist idea in Poland.
  • Aleksandra Kmak-Pamirska
    The Commemoration of Minorities in Virtual Museums dealing with the Second World War in Poland

    The Commemoration of Minorities in Virtual Museums dealing with the Second World War in Poland

    The main aim of my paper is to analyse whether and in what manner issues of minorities – and indeed of which minorities – have been incorporated into digital exhibitions in virtual museums dealing with the Second World War in Poland. The minority group which has been presented most often is of course that of the Jews. I will examine how they are being commemorated in digital museums in Poland, and how their image as constructed in these museums is integrated with other exhibits concerning the Second World War. A very important question to me is why minorities other than Jews have been excluded from digital commemorations in virtual museums. I will analyse exhibitions in the following museums: The Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, The Museum of the Second World War, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Stutthof Museum, Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. I will describe the most important aspects of this new means of commemoration in Poland, the digital–virtual commemoration, and the notion of digital memory in relation to this inclusion and exclusion of minorities in the digital exhibitions of the Second World War in Poland.

Abstract

The Second World War left a profound mark on Polish public awareness. Millions of people perished in concentration camps, among whom were not only Jews and Poles, but also other minorities such as Ukrainians, Slovaks, and Romani people. The papers in this panel will analyse different aspects of the inclusion and exclusion of minorities, both literally and metaphorically. Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych will discuss the exclusion of Warsaw's Jews during the Second World War, not only in the ghetto itself but in actions leading up to its creation, presenting the literal and brutal aspects of direct exclusion. Bartłomiej Kapica will examine the case of Marxist revisionists, some of whom were of Jewish origin and were expelled from communist Poland in 1968. This paper will show some of the more theoretical aspects of the subject under discussion, as they were persecuted by the communist government for their ideas. The topic of current commemoration of minorities, especially Jews, will be discussed by Aleksandra Kmak-Pamirska with the example of digital exhibitions in virtual museums in Poland. Also considered here will be a new phenomenon – virtual museums and topics connected with life experiences of minorities other than Jews, which are not a common subject of digital commemoration – thus raising the important question: why are they not? This panel will thus present a wide spectrum of issues connected with the exclusion, inclusion, and integration of minorities during different political systems in wartime and post-war Poland.