Mayor of Gdansk says rightwing politicians need to keep their hands off the new Museum of the Second World War

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tags: Museum of the Second World War



Pawel Adamowicz is the Mayor of Gdansk, Poland.

When, a week ago, the museum opened its doors to historians and press, it presented a permanent exhibition, not yet complete, but very, very impressive.

But our new populist government with its minister of culture in Warsaw refused to come. They had earlier decided that the museum was “not patriotic enough” and not presenting a full picture of Polish heroism during the war. They decided to change the entire concept of the museum, fire its present management and create one bigger institution with the addition of another museum or two.

The city of Gdansk with its traditions of freedom and solidarity can’t stand idly when the members of the ruling Law and Justice party want to take control over the museum, and to change its content. They seem to ignore the authors’ vision of a unique in the world cultural and civic centre, bringing to the world the universal message of the horrors of war. Any war.

As a mayor of Gdansk, I am doing what I can to defend the museum in its current form. I believe that the politicians should not use cultural heritage to their selective, short-term interests. We have filed complaint with the Administrative Court in Warsaw, which, to our satisfaction, has twice suspended the take-over by the government. However, the minister and the acting government are not giving up. We say: let’s not be fearful and heed the eternal Gdansk motto: nec temere, nec timide (neither impudently nor timidly).

I agree with our friend, Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian who is also a member of the museum’s advisory board. “If this museum is lost, Gdansk, Poland, Europe and the world will lose the only chance to convey the experience of our common history to people from all of the world, not only in Poland, to understand the Second World War. That would be a dreadful civilization lost.”




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