The writing of the "political" history of Communism in Poland

Abstract : Looking at the development of the historiography of Communism and the changes within the field of contemporary history in Poland after 1989, this paper examines the historical narrative of the Communist regime (Polish People's Republic, PRL). What are the big questions, the main historiographical tendencies, but also the gaps and controversies? It questions the autonomy of history writing vis-à-vis the political field. Indeed, the writing of the PRL's history is an object of political struggles. Most of the first Polish historians to write about the PRL (Kersten, Paczkowski, Holzer, Friszke) took a more or less active part in the Solidarity movement and published in the underground press and publishing houses. Hence, the PRL's history has been marked by its political goals (at first, to delegitimize the communist regime by sheding light on its lies and crimes): writing about the PRL was not only to research the past. It was also to use it in current politics. There is some continuity between the PRL and the post-1989 period regarding the political goals assigned to contemporary history: the production of a normative historical narrative aiming at serving political causes (the legitimization of the political power, the state, the nation or a given political camp). Hence, today's historiographical controversies regarding the assesment of the PRL and the political transition can be regarded as an extension (under other forms) of political struggles inherited from the PRL.
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Valentin Behr. The writing of the "political" history of Communism in Poland. COST Conference "The Memory of Communism in Europe: actors, norms, institutions", May 2014, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-01021644⟩

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