Dilemmas of Polish Memory
Lech M. Nijakowski - Fighting for Victim Status: Polish Debates on Genocide and the Collective Memory of World War II
| 39 →
Lech M. Nijakowski
Fighting for Victim Status: Polish Debates on Genocide and the Collective Memory of World War II
Since the end of the Cold War, the international politics of memory has undergone a dynamic transformation.1 This transformation is not only related to shifts in global alliances and statuses of particular states; it is also connected with the intensification of social changes that are typical of late modernity. Political rituals of atonement have become an important element of national and foreign policy. Countries that used to deny crimes from the past have been forced to face their dark legacy.2 The status of victims has particularly increased in importance. While in the past nations based their positive self-stereotype on victories and successes, defeat and tragedy are the widespread basis of collective identity today. There is no clear date for the beginning of this phenomenon. In Israel, for instance, the turning point came relatively early, mostly as a result of Eichmann’s trial (1961–1962) and the Six-Day-War (1967),3 although the process of casting Arabs in the role of neo-Nazis could be observed earlier.4 In the United States, on the other hand, commemoration of victories still prevails: suffice it to mention the controversial debate about the commemoration of Vietnam veterans.5
Poles are a particular nation in this respect. Over 123 years, in the period of formation of modern nation states, Poles were deprived of sovereignty and lived in three occupying countries: Prussia (later...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.