Abstract: In this chapter, Kapralski offers a sociological analysis of collective memory questions regarding Jewish-Gentile relations in present-day Poland. How are Poles marking, not marking, or resisting marking the Holocaust history in its changing landscapes? After describing the memory confrontations in post-1989 Poland generally, Kapralski zeroes in on the manifestations of these questions in Przeworsk, Poland. Among the struggles of carving out new lives in the uncertain realities of post-communism, competition for victim status arises between groups, playing out as battles over memory. This chapter traces the cultural, emotional, and political realities that face Poland as it confronts the weightiness of its history.
The Holocaust: Commemorated but not remembered? Post‐colonial and post‐traumatic perspectives on the reception of the Holocaust memory discourse in Poland
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Holocaust Commemoration, Memory, Globalisation, Nationalism
Abstract: The argument focuses on the reception of the globalized narrative of the Holocaust in the regional memories of East‐Central Europe, in particular Poland. It is argued that this narrative has not been successfully integrated into the regional memory, partly because of the narrative's own deficiencies and partly due to the specific nature of the way in which regional memories have been produced. Instead, it has contributed to the split of collective and social memories in the region as well as to further fragmentation of each of these two kinds of memory. In result we may say that in post‐communist Poland the Holocaust has been commemorated on the level of official institutions, rituals of memory, and elitist discourses, but not necessarily remembered on the level of social memory. It is claimed that to understand this phenomenon we should put the remembrance and commemoration of the Holocaust in the context of the post‐communist transformation, in which the memory of the Holocaust has been constructed rather than retrieved in the process of re‐composition of identities that faced existential insecurity. The non‐Jewish Poles, who in the 1990s experienced the structural trauma of transformation, turned to the past not to learn the truth but to strengthen the group's sense of continuity in time. In this process many of them perceived the cosmopolitan Holocaust narrative as an instrument of the economic/cultural colonization of Eastern Europe in which the historical suffering of the non‐Jewish East Europeans is not properly recognized. Thus the elitist efforts to reconnect with the European discourse and to critically examine one's own identity has clashed with the mainstream's politics of mnemonic security as part of the strategy of collective immortalization that contributed to the development of antagonistic memories and deepened social cleavage.