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Remembrance as a joint venture

Oleksandr Svyetlov
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Oleksandr Svyetlov
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Open Panel

Abstract

With the emergence of independent non-communist Poland and Ukraine those wishing to understand their neighbours essentially have to talk about common historical experience. it is of special interest to take a retrospective look at some contentious events of the past, dominant discourses related to it, public remembering, as well as mutual reconciliation efforts both in Poland and Ukraine. This paper deals with the reinterpretation of the 1942-1947 events in both countries with the emphasis on the current dialogue about the Polish-Ukrainian history. Indeed the actions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the Polish Armija Krajowa (AK), the USSR and the new Polish state played a central role in the context of mutual Polish-Ukrainian ethnic cleansing operations in this time period. The events of the past still have an influence on the present Polish-Ukrainian relations, as they constitute public narratives of the shared past and condition the vision of each other. Memory of collective wrongs and atrocities suffered from another ethnic group often burdens people with strong resentment. Personal accounts of conflicts at times can be selective and simplified. Especially representing the opponent side in history education, popular literature or media tends to reflect the interests of particular groups at the cost of others. collective injustices were followed by decades of ideological distortion in both countries, whereby the open wounds of the past had not been properly dealt with, let alone, healed. With time Polish and Ukrainian nations became dominant foci for social and political identification and suppressed memories stood in the way of post-1989 reconciliation.