Cover Osteuropa 6/2008

In Osteuropa 6/2008

A History Lesson
The Second World War in Polish Textbooks

Krzysztof Ruchniewicz

Deutsche Fassung


Textbooks convey historical knowledge and shape collective memory. They betray a great deal about prevailing views of history. In Poland, the memories of the Second World War and the totalitarian experience are of key importance. In light of the efforts of Jarosław Kaczyński’s governments to use a particular history policy to fix Polish memory to one interpretation, the question is raised how disputed topics in the politics of memory such as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Katyn, or the Holocaust are handled in Polish textbooks. The textbooks hold up to critical examination. Authors have not submitted to history policy. History books are laid out in a problem-oriented fashion and also treat painful issues, such as Jedwabne, in addition to the heroic sides of Polish history.

(Osteuropa 6/2008, pp. 285–306)