PiS and Polish History

How the Party Uses the Past to Shape the Present

At a march organized by PiS in Warsaw, December 2012.  Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

On April 5, Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court issued a ruling allowing the government to merge the country’s Museum of the Second World War, in Gdansk, with the Westerplatte Museum, a smaller institution commemorating the war’s first battle between German and Polish troops in the same city. The Museum of the Second World War was created by the liberal government of former Prime Minister Donald Tusk in 2008, and it presents the conflict from an international perspective, attempting to reflect the universalism of the suffering it caused. Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party has rejected this framing, arguing, in the words of Culture Minister Piotr Glinski, that it does not put “enough stress on the Polish point of view.”

The court’s decision was the latest episode in an ongoing struggle between Poland’s liberal-minded Europhiles and its Euroskeptic conservatives over how to approach Polish history. Since

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