Polands governing party is seeking to shape the countrys future by controlling perceptions of the past.
The conservative Law and Justice partys strategy includes the use of museums, film, public television and other tools to promote certain episodes in Polands history, like the anti-communist resistance after World War II. More controversial, though, are attempts to suppress discussion and research into painful topics, primarily Polish violence against Jews during the Nazi occupation.
Law and Justice, which since last year has wielded more power than any party in post-communist times, sees the moves as harnessing history in a mission to build a stronger nation state. President Andrzej Duda said the nations new historical policy offensive aims to create a new generation of patriots and to build up the countrys position in the international space.
Critics see historical revisionism that will produce little beyond national self-righteousness and will prevent an honest reckoning with the countrys wartime history an extremely complex story that includes suffering and heroism of the highest order but also cases of murder and betrayal by Poles of defenseless Jews.
They want to narrow our view of the past, said Pawel Spiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. They want to use the state apparatus to force their new view of political history, and this is very dangerous.