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Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk: memory culture as a cue ball of political interests

October 9, 2019

The story of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk epitomizes one of the most important and dramatic clashes in the European culture of memory and public history in last decades. In Poland, the museum became the archenemy for the nationalist right-wing as “cosmopolitan”, “pseudo-universalistic”, “pacifistic” and “not Polish enough”.

Paweł Machcewicz, historian and the museum`s founding director, was removed from his position by the Law and Justice government immediately after opening the museum to the public.

In De Gruyter’s new publication, “The war that never ends. The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk,” Paweł Machcewicz presents (t)his story as a part of cultural wars that are raging not only in Poland but also in other countries in Europe and on other continents.

The book shows how the idea of the museum initially arose from an article the author wrote in a daily newspaper, and what efforts it took to construct the museum itself, build the collections and start the exhibition in the midst of the uprising of Polish nationalism.

From the process of collection to its engagement with audiences, the Museum of World War II articulates a complex and thought-provoking example of what historian Michael Frisch has called “shared authority” where it was the active collaboration between historian, curator, museum worker and community than ended up challenging the agenda of the state.

This book is a crucial record and significant testament to the ambitious attempt to create a Museum of the Second World War.

Paweł Machcewicz
The war that never ends
The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

2019, 197pp.
Hardcover, English:  € [D] 86.95 / US$ 99.99 / GBP 79.00*
eBook/EPUB, English:  € [D] 86.95 / US$ 99.99 / GBP 79.00*
ISBN 978-3-11-065460-8
De Gruyter Oldenbourg, München

De Gruyter
Eric Merkel-Sobotta
Tel: +49 30 260 05 304