Memory and History in the Cityscapes in Poland: The Search for Meaning

JVF Conference Papers

In the 1980s many monuments became important sites for contesting the communist regime in Poland. While national monuments became sites of illegal gatherings, communist monuments were overtly criticized and sometimes devastated or vandalized. The opposition demanded permission to build monuments commemorating the “forgotten” heroes and victims of communist repression, and these new monuments inspired hope for political change. Yet after 1989, monuments ceased to attract attention or evoke strong emotions from the populace. During the transition period new tensions and conflicts appeared, and both the Polish political scene and society became more divided, voicing different needs for monuments. Monuments, previously serving mainly as sites of political rituals, were seen as a part of local and national heritage – important to both inhabitants and visitors for self-presentation of the cities.

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