The Baltic Region

2018 Vol. 10 №4

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Regional politics of memory in Poland’s Warmia and Masuria



A contribution to memory studies, this work focuses on Poland’s Warmian-Masurian voivodeship. Before the war, this territory and the neighbouring Kaliningrad region of Russia comprised the German province of East Prussia. In this article, we strive to identify the essence, mechanisms, key stages, and regional features of the politics of memory from 1945 to the present. To this end, we analyse the legal regulations, the authorities’ decisions, statistics, and the reports in the press. We consider such factors as the education sector, the museum industry, the monumental symbolism, the oral and printed propaganda, holidays and rituals, the institutions of national memory, the adoption of memory-related laws, and others. From the first post-war years, the regional authorities sought to make the Polonocentric concept of the region’s history dominate the collective consciousness. This approach helped to use the postwar legacy impartially and effectively. However, the image of the past was distorted. This distortion was overcome at the turn of the 21st century to give rise to the concept of open regionalism. An effective alternative to nationalistic populism, open regionalism provides a favourable background for international cross-border cooperation.