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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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Beginnings: Questions, Inspirations, Objectives

Theories: Memory, Politics and Forgetting

In the Field: Methods and Methodology

1 Dramatis personae: History and Memory

Roots (up to 1939)

War and Other Misfortunes (1938–1945)

Brave New World (1945–1953)

The Post-war Culture of (Non-)Remembrance (1953–1989/1991)

After the Fall of Communism: New Beginnings? (1989/1991-present)

2 Resettlement and the First Phase of Adaptation

The Journey: Autobiographical Memory and its Transmission

Fear, Violence, Poverty: After Arrival

Yearning, Temporariness, Alienation

3 The Creation of a New Community and Social Integration

Relations with the Authorities and the New Political System

To Build Everything Anew, or the Social Wild West

The Long-term Consequences of Post-war Divisions: Integration Processes Among the Younger Generations

4 Resettlement and Identity

Returning Home – the Last Stage of the Psychological Integration Process

People Make a Place a Home: “Who would I return to?”

The Former Homeland as an Element of Identity: “It’s good that we know these things.”

The Lost Homeland and Crippled Identity: “A person is always attached to their homeland.”

No Need for Homeland: “Why would we go there?”

The Old Homeland in the Consciousness of the Younger Generations

Gains and Losses – Who Came Through Migration Successfully?

5 Remembering the Absent: Germans and German Heritage in Krzyż

Settlers vs. Germans: Memories of the Oldest Generation

Before our Grandparents: Memory Among the Younger Generations

The Germans Today: Castaways, Tourists, Litigants?

Around Material Heritage

German Heritage and Identity

6 Remembering the Absent: Jews and Jewish Heritage in Zhovkva

Life and Death Among Neighbors

Hearsay: What do the Resettlers Know about Zhovkva’s Jews?

Family (Non-)Memory: The Next Generations

Foreign Heritage

Survivors, Ghosts, Visitors

7 Remembering the Absent: Poles and Polish Heritage in Zhovkva

Once upon a Time in Poland

Times of Threat

Emigration, Expulsion, Marginalization

“Now it is OK”

Material and Symbolic Heritage

8 Between Heroes and Traitors: The UPA and the Soviets in Zhovkva

Bandits or Heroes? Troubled Autobiographical Memories

Pride and Prejudice: Ukrainian Nationalists in Collective Memory

“Liberators” and Liberators – or Two Types of Soviets

Stalinism, Stabilization, Veterans: Memories of Soviet Zhovkva

Heroes and Traitors: Summary

9 A Land Without Heroes: Problems of the Memory Canon in Krzyż

Good Russians and Bad Russians: Autobiographical Memory

The Soviets in the Memories of the Younger Generations

Krzyż and Zhovkva: A Comparison of Heroic Canons

Postscriptum: Symbolic Space


Memories of Resettlement

Memories of Absent Others

Memories of Heroes

Between Memory and Forgetting

Memories of the Past and Collective Identity

Biographical Index of Respondents