9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS07 Memory, Culture and Public Discourse

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Theoretical Innovations about Collective Memory I Building I, 1E6

Polish Collective Memory of the Holocaust: Social and Education Discourse after 1989

The purpose of this paper is to describe the phenomenon of social including and excluding of the Jews as a process of transformation of collective memory in Poland.
The process may be divided into three periods:
1. Communist ideology versus social memory of World War Two. in postwar Poland
2. Political transformation of the memory in Poland during the 80´s and after 1989
3. Introducing the term "Holocaust" in postcommunist Poland (both in social and educational discourses)

The construction of the past raises the question of how collective representation is shaped by ideologies together with social and political changes in the context of Polish post-Holocaust and post-communist society. For understanding of Polish collective memory (or understanding why Polish memory is not necessarily "collective") it is important to distinguish between the communist and post-communist eras. Each of these periods produced commemorative narratives about events that deeply divided Polish society after World War Two. The formation of the new Polish state by armed force and Soviet intervention affected patterns of commemoration and the Party recognized as heroes only those who were communist fighters, while the ethnicity of heroes and victims was (almost totally) repressed or marginalized.
Political transformation during the 80´s returned to social memory the traces of erased collective memory - among these the Jewish presence in Poland before and after World War Two. In consequence, the Poles had to face in public debate the facts of annihilation of the Jews of Europe both during World War Two and persecution after the war (Kielce and the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968). In this context we can adopt the term "cultural trauma" and see how it afected the changes in Polish society, for example following Jan B?o?ski?s essay or the revelations about Jedwabne.