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Displaced Memories

Remembering and Forgetting in Post-War Poland and Ukraine


Anna Wylegała

The book is a comparative case study of collective memory in two small communities situated on two Central-European borderlands. Despite different pre-war histories, Ukrainian Zhovkva (before 1939 Polish Żółkiew) and Polish Krzyż (before 1945 German Kreuz) were to share a common fate of many European localities, destroyed and rebuilt in a completely new shape. As a result of war, and post-war ethnic cleansing and displacement, they lost almost all of their pre-war inhabitants and were repopulated by new people. Based on more than 150 oral history interviews, the book describes the process of reconstruction of social microcosm, involving the reader in a journey through the lives of real people entangled in the dramatic historical events of the 20th century.

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Note on Translation, Transliteration and Names

Note on Translation, Transliteration and Names

This book is a translation, but that does not make it simply a product of a Polish monograph being translated into English and revised to accommodate the customs and expectations of an Anglophone readership. The Polish book was written in 2013 and published in 2014, on the basis of research conducted much earlier, between 2008 and 2011. The people interviewed spoke in their own languages: Polish in Poland, and usually Ukrainian but also Russian and Polish in Ukraine. Thus, some quotes were translated into Polish first, and then retranslated into English. The respondents spoke about their own lifeworlds, which also meant that their experiences had to be translated into the analytical language of scholarship. When I started to prepare my Polish book for translation into English, it transpired that it was necessary to write a completely new introduction, as well as to make numerous minor changes to the main text: some details would have been of little interest to a non-Polish reader, whereas other things needed to be expanded and explained more explicitly.

Importantly, although I continue to pay attention to the memory politics and symbolic spaces of both Krzyż and Zhovkva (and, of course, in Poland and Ukraine more generally), this book analyses the social reality of these two localities as I encountered them at the time of my fieldwork. Whilst I note more recent changes in the footnotes, the analysis of the interviews does not take later developments into consideration: such an updating would entail, de facto, a whole new round of interviews. This book is thus about Polish and Ukrainian memory before 2014, before the Euromaidan protests and the Russian annexation of Crimea. Whereas the dynamics of memory in Krzyż are fairly stable, interviewees in Zhovkva today would probably voice very different opinions, above all anti-Russian and anti-Soviet ones. However, I prefer not to speculate.

In proper nouns and in the references, I transliterate from Russian and Ukrainian in accordance with the Library of Congress system, simplified so as to facilitate reading (e.g. omitting ligatures and soft signs). Towns are referred to using their current names, i.e. “Zhovkva” and “Krzyż,” when the analysis concerns the present day; however, they are also referred to as “Żółkiew” and “Kreuz” when discussing historical matters (before 1939 for the former, before 1945 for the latter). The same principle is applied to other localities whose countries, and therefore also names, changed.