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Arrested Mourning

Memory of the Nazi Camps in Poland, 1944–1950


Zofia Woycicka

«Analyzing the earliest debates over the memory of Nazi camps, the author makes an important contribution to the study of their origin, reducing the existing asymmetry in our knowledge on the relevant phenomena in Western and Eastern Europe. This is all the more important as the Poles and Polish Jews, whose involvement in the disputes over memory she describes, were the most important group of survivors and eyewitnesses of the camps and so the genuine group of memory.» Prof. Dariusz Stola (Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Science)
«The vast number and variety of sources used in this work create a fascinating picture of a multifaceted, rich, vivid, and at times heated debate conducted in Poland in the late 1940s. A great merit of Wóycicka is to preserve this discourse from oblivion and to bring it back into the public sphere.» Barbara Engelking (Polish Center for Holocaust Research)
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← 4 | 5 → Contents

List of Abbreviations



Chapter 1

Former Prisoners: “Finest Sons of the Fatherland” or “Hapless Victims of the Camps”?

Repatriation and Assistance

Former Prisoners Organise Themselves

Politicisation of the PZbWP

The Struggle against “Victimhood”

Chapter 2

Our “Jewish Comrades”? Who Belongs to the Community of Victims?



Jews in the PZbWP

“A Separate Death”?

“Heroes of the Ghetto” or Passive Victims?

Other Groups of Victims

Chapter 3

At the “Limit of a Certain Morality”: Polish Debates on the Conduct of Concentration Camp Prisoners

War Crimes Trials in Poland, 1944-1950

Controversies Surrounding the Trials of Prisoner Functionaries

Beyond the Courtroom

Defending the Image of the Political Prisoner


Chapter 4

Sites of Memory, Sites of Forgetting

Majdanek and Auschwitz: Vying for “Pre-eminence”

“The Death of Birkenau”

In the Background: Stutthof and Gross-Rosen

Forgotten Places: Chełmno, Bełżec, Treblinka, Sobibór

← 5 | 6 → Chapter 5

Disputes over the Method of Commemorating the Sites of Former Concentration Camps

“Evidence of Crimes” or “A Collection of Curiosities”?

Cemeteries or “Battlefields”?

“Jewish Cemeteries” or “Places of Martyrdom of the Polish Nation and of Other Nations”?

Chapter 6

A Christian Monument to Jewish Martyrdom? An Unrealised Project from 1947 to Commemorate the Site of the Former Death Camp at Treblinka

The “Polish Klondike”: Genesis of the Project

Iconography of the Memorial

Epilogue: Auschwitz—“A Tacky Stall of Cheap Anti-imperialist Propaganda”



A. Sources

B. Studies