History: March '68 memorial
From Warsaw Business Journal
by Adam Zdrodowski
President Lech Kaczyński has honored participants of the March 1968 demonstrations. Commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the so-called "March 1968" events officially started in Poland last week. On March 6, President Lech Kaczyński recognized 45 participants of student and intellectual protests against Poland's communist government.
The Polish 1968 political crisis involved some of the earliest occurrences of mobilized social dissidence at that time in Europe. The events originated at Warsaw University but quickly spread to Poland's other major cities. The protests, which were centered around issues such as freedom of speech and the right of assembly, were met by the government with repressive force. The authories also orchestrated an anti-Semitic campaign to distract national attention from the student movement.
Kaczyński noted the anti-Semitic campaign led to the expulsion of thousands of Poles with Jewish heritage.
"The anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 brought Poland irreparable losses," Kaczyński said during the ceremony. "I belong to the generation that witnessed the campaign. I often cannot believe myself that I really saw and heard it. Was it possible 23 years after the war? Unfortunately, it was," he added.
Some controversy surrounded the presidential chancellery's selection of the awardees. Glaringly absent from the list was Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, who was a central figure in March 1968 and is now a political opponent of President Kaczyński
History http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/news/artykul77433.htmlof WW2 Polish expellees on display at the European Parliament 06.03.2008
The European Parliament is hosting an exhibition on expulsions of Poles between 1939 and 1945. The event gives an excellent opportunity to present unknown facts to the European public.
Piotr Bonislawski reports:
Dr. Janusz Kurtyka, the President of the Institute of National Remembrance, and Members of the European Parliament Bogusław Sonik and prof. Wojciech Roszkowski opened an exhibition titled "The Expelled" at the European Parliament building in Brussels.
Professor Wojciech Roszkowski explains the reasons for organizing such an event:
'There is a lot of ignorance about the fate of Poland during the 20th century and particularly during the Second World War. This gap is filled with absurd stereotypes. Therefore the main goal of this exhibition is to make Europeans more familiar with Polish history.'
The exhibition consists of large format posters with pictures and maps, together with LCD displays, presenting first hand accounts of witnesses of the times when Polish citizens were suffering repressions from both occupants - the Germans and the Soviets.
Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, a Member of the European Parliament and an icon of the Lithuanian independence movement points out that such exhibitions still play an important role in the discourse on history between the European nations:
'It reminds us that Europe is still divided in knowledge, in understanding and education. There are still two Europes - one of them unfortunate by destiny and the other one more fortunate by history, but unfortunately lacking knowledge about the past.'
And indeed, education is probably the most important aspect of the event in the European Parliament. Emma Jackson from Chicago is doing her internship at one of the MEP offices. She came to see the presentation and to learn about the history of the land of her ancestors:
'This exhibition is quite interesting and quite sad at the same time. My history textbooks in high school and in college did not really mention the issue of Polish expulsion, so reading this history will certainly form a better understanding of what happened between 1939 and 1945.'
Ambassador Jan Tombinski, Poland's Permanent Representative to the European Communities stressed the importance of making the Polish voice heard in the European debate on history:
'One could think that this kind of exhibition today, almost 70 years after the WWII had started, should not be treated as a novelty. But for many of our partners from the European Union the facts presented here are a real discovery. They don't know or don't want to know about it. Therefore talking about expelled Polish citizens even after 70 years simply makes sense in Europe.'
The exhibition prepared by the Institute of National Remembrance catches the attention here in the building at Rue Wiertz in Brussels where the European Parliament is located. MEPs, their assistants and parliament staffers from 27 EU countries are stopping by, anxious to learn more about the expelled Polish citizens who suffered during WWII. And previously unheard history finds its place in the European context.