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2005 | 4 | 5-17
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The intention of the article was to depict the most relevant opinions expressed in a discussion on the meaning of the year 1945 in Polish history. The sheer volume of scientific and popular literature about the WW II has forced the author to propose a certain selection. The centre of gravity has been shifted to syntheses and textbooks on the history of Poland, although use has also been made of monographs and publicistics. Reflections about 1945 are closely connected with a type of memory which W. Suleja has described as 'reversed', frequently subjected to instrumentalisation and, as Michel Foucault put it, turned into 'the discourse of power'. Memory of this variety provoked a confrontation between official interpretations of assorted events and the reminiscences of direct witnesses, as well as between state and local history. At the turn of the 1980s Polish memory rediscovered other visions of the past. The milieu of professional historians expressed a specific consensus relating to prime issues associated with interpreting the role played by the year 1945 in Polish history. The new approach was tantamount to rejecting a vision which portrayed May 1945 not only as a symbol of the end of the war but, alongside 22 July 1944, as a foundation act of the new rule. At the same time, both Polish historiography and historical memory have up to this day retained a certain conceptual chaos and specific pluralism within the domain of axiology, making it possible to classify the same events and undertakings as examples of patriotism, banditry, or outright national treason. The dilemma whether 1945 inaugurated in Poland 'a civil war' or 'a new occupation' is by no means merely academic. Another example confirming the deep rifts between the Poles involves basic differences of opinion disclosed in the recently held discussion about the suitability of President Aleksander Kwasniewski's presence at the Moscow celebrations marking the end of WW II. We are entitled, therefore, to hazard the thesis that controversies among historians somehow duplicate the competing contents present in the historical memory of Polish society.
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  • R. Stobiecki, Uniwersytet Lódzki, ul. Narutowicza 65, 90-131 Lódz, Poland
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