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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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The publication of the English version of this book provides a pleasant opportunity to thank people.

This book would never have come into existence without the interviewees, old and young – people who agreed to devote their time to me and share their experiences, including very difficult and painful ones. The majority of individuals from the oldest generation have now passed away. I hope they would be pleased that their stories are being made accessible to a wider readership, and that the new readers may perceive a universal dimension in Polish-Ukrainian-German-Jewish experiences of resettlement.

The fieldwork and writing that went into this work would have been impossible without the generous support of numerous institutions. A fellowship at the University of Toronto provided an opportunity to consult literature that was difficult to access in Poland. Research grants from the Polish Centre for Holocaust Research of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Geschichtswerkstatt Europa and the National Science Centre allowed me to conduct the fieldwork. The Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv awarded me a yearlong fellowship and hosted me during all of my trips to Ukraine. The final version of the manuscript, which served as the basis for the English translation, was completed during my fellowship at the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena. The translation itself was supported by a grant from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

I would also like to thank all of the people who conducted and recorded the interviews analyzed here, whether as part of the project conducted by the KARTA Centre, their own individual research, or at my request: Dominik Czapigo, Piotr Filipkowski, Jarosław Pałka, Myroslava Keryk, Tetiana Rodnienkova and my mother, Teresa Wylegała, who was like a guardian angel to the research carried out in Krzyż. Successive versions of individual chapters were read and commented on by Halyna Bodnar, Piotr Filipkowski, Tomasz Molenda, Justyna Straczuk, Joanna Wawrzyniak, Joanna Konieczna-Sałamatin, Olga Linkiewicz and Grzegorz Motyka. I am also grateful to the examiners of my doctoral dissertation, Professor Kaja Kaźmierska and Professor Elżbieta Tarkowska, as well as numerous anonymous reviewers of those parts of the text that were published earlier as stand-alone articles.

The English version of this text would have been much less accomplished if it were not for the work of the translator, Simon Lewis, to whom I am grateful for his insightful comments and unending patience.

I would also like to acknowledge my teachers, thanks to whom I became the scholar I am: Małgorzata Melchior, for many years of academic patronage, her unconditional support and careful supervision of the difficult process of turning ideas into text; Yaroslav Hrytsak, for his inspiration, and for always being someone I could rely on; and Ola Hnatiuk, for the very beginnings, a long time ago.

And special thanks go to my husband, as always, for everything.