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Historian hits out at Polish government's plans for WWII museum

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 24.04.2016 14:38
Historian Norman Davies has hit out at the Polish government's plans to merge two forthcoming WWII museums in Gdańsk, arguing that the move is politically motivated.
Construction site of the Museum of World War II in Gdańsk, in early 2016. Photo: wikimedia commons/Artur AndrzejConstruction site of the Museum of World War II in Gdańsk, in early 2016. Photo: wikimedia commons/Artur Andrzej

Davies, who heads the advisory board of the Museum of World War II in Gdańsk, told UK paper The Observer that the Law and Justice government does not want a bunch of foreign historians to decide what goes on in ‘their’ museum.’’

Besides Davies, who has joint Polish-British citizenship, the advisory board includes WWII historians such as Andrzej Chwalba, Timothy Snyder and Włodzimierz Borodziej.

Construction of the Museum of World War II began in Gdańsk in August 2012, and the project was supported by the then coalition government led by the Civic Platform party.

However, two months after the Law and Justice party won the 25 October general election in 2015, it announced the construction of a second museum, which would be built on Gdańsk's Westerplatte peninsula where WWII began, focusing solely on the events in Poland of 1939.

A week ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński said that the museums would be merged.

The reason for the merger is to ensure effectiveness,” he told the PAP news agency.

There is no sense in operating two museums in the same city with the same profile,” he added.

Davies has said he believes that chairman of the Law and Justice party Jarosław Kaczyński was behind the decision.

“He is behaving like a Bolshevik and a paranoid troublemaker,” the historian said.

However, Gliński later said that no final decision has yet been made.

The mayor of Gdańsk, a member of the Civic Platform party, is currently engaged in a wrangle with the ministry of culture over the fate of the museum.

City hall in Gdańsk has argued that Law and Justice wants to give a new director control over both entities, thus jeopardizing plans for the contents of the original museum.

The Museum of World War II in Gdańsk was envisaged as a place to present the entire panorama of World War II, covering both Europe, Japan and beyond.

Professor Norman Davies is the author of books including Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory and Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw. (nh)

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