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

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.

This essay addresses three major issues, approaching these monuments from both an historical and an anthropological perspective. First, I will describe the monument landscape in three major cities – Kraków, Pozna?, and Lublin. My intention is not to describe in detail all of the monuments in the three studied cities – in Pozna? alone there are more than 90 monuments, 16 commemorative stones, and a few hundred commemorative plaques; and Kraków has approximately 100 monuments, 5 mounds, and about 60 commemorative plates[1] – but to analyze the most important monuments in terms of the message, location, and social attitudes toward each one.

Next, I will show how political and historical changes affected the memory landscape of Poland during the twentieth century. Poland’s turbulent history, including the time of the Partitions, the Second Republic, the Second World War, the Communist Period, and the Solidarity Period (1980-81) all had a visible impact on memory landscape, and each period is well-reflected in Poland’s monuments. If each group of new rulers immediately constructed “their” monuments, what kind of ideas and heroes were honored, whose history and memory was materialized in the monuments in Poland? After 1989, politicians, intellectuals and communities searched for new versions of history and new regional and national identities, often looking back to the medieval or modern periods while bracketing out the communist years.

The second question is concerned with the changing roles and significance of monuments in Poland during the 20th and early 21 st centuries. Statues, obelisks, commemorative mounds and plaques, street names, and buildings are ways of materializing a certain history and memory of the past, usually defined by governments and authorities. I will analyze the social perception of monuments, the supportive and questioning activities centered around them, and individual and group attitudes towards them. In particular, I will examine monuments as sites of action – official, legal, illegal, organized and spontaneous – as well as examining opinions expressed in memoirs and interviews.

Third, I will examine how the making and remaking of symbolic spaces might reflect problems in thinking about the past after 1989. In particular, I am concerned with the relation between memory and identity revealed in monuments and the so-called “historic routes” in most cities. The search for new self-representation intensified after 1989, and as a result of democratization, the strengthening awareness of regional identities, the developing heritage industry, and the anticipation of Poland’s EU accession, multiethnic and multicultural heritage began to be promoted through new monuments and historic routes.

The subject of my analysis is symbolic space in three Polish cities, Pozna?, Lublin, and Kraków, which I selected for several reasons. First, each city belonged to different part of partitioned Poland between 1795 and 1918: the Prussian, Russian and Austrian areas, respectively; and two of the cities were the capitals of these areas. Since 1918, they have been Polish cities, yet their architecture and culture (habits, folklore, and dialects) indicate their different historical paths. Second, these cities are located in different regions of Poland, thus not only national but also different regional identities are reflected in their memory landscape. Third, the memory landscape of each city, due to each city’s unique history and location, is related to the neighboring countries and histories of bilateral relations. After 1989, non-Polish narratives were included in local histories. The existence of Jewish, Ukrainian, German, and other communities was memorialized on walls, often leading to fierce debates about acknowledging the non-Polish past and commemorating victims of different ethnic origins.

Before my reflection upon the three mentioned issues, exemplified with monuments from Lublin, Kraków and Pozna?, I will briefly remark on the theoretical framework of my research. Studying monuments in all of their many dimensions – historical, political, social, artistic, and economic – is well beyond the scope of this paper. I am aware of the limited nature of my reflections, which are intended to serve more as a proposal for further analysis than as a completed work.

Theoretical Framework

The word “monument” comes from the Latin monumentum, derived from monere (to warn, to recall), which relates to the ability of memory. As Choay writes, “One would term a monument any artifact erected by a community of individuals to commemorate or to recall for future generations individuals, events, sacrifices, practices or beliefs.”[2] In modern times the word monument acquired a new meaning, encompassing an archeological dimension, aesthetic and prestige values, referring often to ancient buildings, and constituting local, regional, national or world heritage (see, e.g., the world heritage list). My essay is mainly concerned with monuments, defined in the original sense, as artifacts commemorating past events, persons and ideas.

Historically, monuments have undergone notable changes in terms of their function, significance, creators, audiences, and artistic forms. In the European context, a profusion of monuments occurred in the 19th century along with the building of national states and emerging movements of national liberation. For example, the French Third Republic (1870-1940) was characterized by erection of around two hundred monuments in Paris alone, an action humorously referred to as statuomania by Gustave Pessard. The leitmotif of the German national cult was the erection of more than 300 Bismarck monuments in both rural and urban settings, not only in Germany but also in German colonies and in Austria. In London, during the reign of Queen Victoria, statues were built at a rate of one every four months.[3] In comparison, during and after the papacy of John Paul II (1978-2005) over 300 monuments and statues honoring him were built in Poland and elsewhere.

Several studies show that the 19th century monuments were erected mostly as a result of official initiatives, since the governments perceived their roles as establishing sites of collective participation in public life and politics as well as establishing places where national identity would be cultivated. For example, on the 110th anniversary of the French Revolution, the monument to the French Republic was unveiled and the ceremony was attended by 250,000 Parisians. The French Republic mainly commemorated its ideological and historical predecessors, and while the French Revolution clearly constituted the foundation myth, the pre-Revolutionary past was also included. The German Empire promoted national cults as the unifying force, and monuments were intended as sites of national pilgrimages. In spite of the differences between countries, monuments were used in attempts to create loyalty to a national community or state, and this endeavor encompassed both elite and popular cultures. The relation between nationalism and monuments is by no means a simple one. National monuments were erected by governments to bond communities together, but they were also erected by national movements against oppressing states. In early 19th century Dublin, the monuments of British monarchs served to “cultivate the sense of belonging to the Empire,” but also served as sites of demonstrations of resistance.[4] Monuments to Polish heroes erected in the 19th and early 20th centuries were directed against the Partition powers, yet some of the monuments built to foreign monarchs were also welcomed.

Monuments were often reshaped as a result of political democratization. During and after the Great War, communities, veterans’ associations and families across Europe engaged in honoring and commemorating the fallen soldiers. This popular movement led to the erection of numerous steles, statues, and plaques in towns and villages, especially in France. Those sites later became centers of civic cults. Many governments also commemorated the fallen soldiers by constructing various Tombs of the Unknown Soldier – first in Paris and London, and then in other European cities. These tombs, due to their anonymity, lack of religious or patriotic elements, and minimalist design were seen as the next step in the democratization of commemorations and monumental space.[5] Further changes occurred after the Second World War. New monuments like the Majdanek Memorial (analyzed later) were more open to individual reading because many did not have any symbols and inscriptions, and they were constructed in such a way as to emotionally influence the viewers through spatial arrangements.

The very idea of the monument was later shaken by the counter-monument movement, when temporary structures were erected and then vanished. This necessitated communities and individuals to remember, since the material signs of memory disappeared.[6] Yet interestingly, monuments built in the early 21 st century in various countries represent traditional, modernist, and abstract forms, as well as realistic forms. This shows that the abstract or modernist form of a monument does not prevent people from using it in a highly ideological way, i.e., imbuing it with political, nationalist, or religious meaning. For example, I witnessed in 1999 how the modernist Stone of Remembrance in Edinburgh, Scotland, which originally commemorated all victims of wars, was a center point for a military ceremony with strong religious and national references. Young writes that as a result of responding to the needs of art and historiography, there has been “a metamorphosis of the monument from the heroic, self-aggrandizing figurative icons of the late 19th century… to the antiheroic, often ironic and self-effacing conceptual installations that mark the national ambivalence and uncertainty of late 20th century post-modernism.”[7] In Poland and elsewhere, however, recently erected monuments represent traditional styles and use clear symbolism relating to national or religious identities, leaving little space for an individual inscription of meaning.

The monuments erected as a part of state-building processes or national movements symbolically represented ethnic or national continuity. This continuity is visible in the choice of symbols, often archaic, representing a timeless nation. For example, in the Vittoriano Emmanuele II Monument in Rome, Italy, officials attempted to define a united nation, to evoke a timeless imperial Rome and “memories of past Romes.” The massive Monument to the Battle of Nations in Leipzig, Germany, consists of a mixture of ‘Germanic’ primitive forms with inspirations from ancient Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures.[8] In my view, it is the assumption of continuity represented by a monument that is crucial for its continuous significance over centuries. The idea of continuity, linked to a sense of belonging and identity, is important for individuals, but also for communities and states.

The death of the monument has been announced several times. For example, Lewis Mumford in “The Culture of Cities,” published in 1938, argued that an urban society valued change and transformation rather than continuity, and therefore modern urban societies would not construct monuments. However, in 2000, Rudi Kosher wrote that “the monument … may have been anachronistic, but this did not prevent the national state from using it in its own highly modern practices.”[9] I would expend this view, suggesting that any community, whether national or local, relies heavily on the past and claims of continuity and, therefore, erects monuments representing and honoring important aspects of its identity.

The term monument, as derived from monere, relates to artifacts constructed to foster remembrance. Maurice Halbwachs maintained that group remembrance endures when it is based on a material object with symbolic significance. He also argued that people, besides sharing individual memories, share social or collective memories of the past, which are crucial for religious, national or cultural group identity. Collective memory builds its sense of the past mainly from commemorations, monuments, memorials, and historic sites – it is constantly reshaped and reinvented. The term lieux de memoire (realms of memory), coined by Pierre Nora, refers to festivals, books, cathedrals, cemeteries, emblems, memorials, buildings, commemorations, and so on. Sites of memory are a product of modern times, they are constructed and self-reflexive sites “in which a residual sense of continuity remains,” and they have a material, functional and symbolic dimension. The case studies in the monumental work Lieux de Memoire show how the elite and national memory was constructed, questioned and undermined by individuals and groups over the centuries of French history.

Assmann’s concept of cultural memory sheds light on the relation between memory, identity and past. Cultural memory is defined as the “outer dimension of human memory,” embracing two concepts: memory culture and reference to the past. According to Assmann, memory culture is closely linked to ensuring cultural continuity by preserving collective knowledge from generation to generation, allowing the constant reconstruction of identity. References to the past give society a historical consciousness by creating a shared past. Cultural memory works by reconstructing: “It always relates to an actual and contemporary situation.”[10]

The social and collective character of memory may, however, be juxtaposed with individual memories and identity. James Young proposed the notion of collected memory instead of collective memory, referring to “the many discrete memories that are gathered into common memorial space and assigned common meaning. A society’s memory, in this context, might be regarded as an aggregate collection of its members’ memory, often competing memories.”[11] There is a question of how far these memories are invented and constructed and how far they are repetition of previous symbols and themes. Kosher proposes that “[t]he German memory is marked by certain reoccurring themes and symbols derived from folklore, medieval imagery, Christian belief, and national iconology.”[12] Are then individual memories inclined towards specific mythical or historical representations of the past and identity? What is the relation between individual beliefs, memory, life story and interests in history?

Nora writes, “Atomisation of memory imposes a duty to remember on each individual.” Young further maintains that, “If societies remember, it is only insofar as their institutions and rituals organize, shape, and even inspire the constituents’ memories. For a society’s memory cannot exist outside of those people who do remembering – even if such memory happens to be at the society’s bidding, in its name.”[13] The question is then who has the right or privilege to commemorate or represent the past and shape memory though monumental representation.

The vast majority of existing monuments were constructed by dominant groups or governments, representing their choices of important persons and events to be commemorated. The monument, however, is by its very nature intended to be noticed, honored and used. The surrealists mentioned the potential power of monuments – a magic capability of greeting the flâneur. They saw in public monuments the elements of a dialogue between the city and the flâneur.[14] The attention paid to monuments varies substantially – some monuments are alive in the public mind only during the unveiling ceremony or during annual celebrations on the anniversaries of the events or persons commemorated. In some cases, there is no clear date when commemorative ceremonies could take place, and some monuments become centers of rituals hardly or not at all related to their message. Furthermore, m onuments, because of their location in open spaces, are subjects of various encounters, individual and collective, informal and organized, with an array of overlapping possibilities.

For Robert Musil, monuments are erected to attract public attention but paradoxically are impregnated against it: “One considers them – like a tree – to be a part of the street, one would be immediately struck by their disappearance, but one does not look at them and one has no slightest idea whom they represent.”[15] Interestingly, a similar view was expressed by a passerby when asked about one of Krakow’s monuments, in P?aszów (analyzed later). Aleksander Wallis similarly suggested that t he worst fate for a monument is to be neglected and to not evoke emotions.[16] However, I would argue that there are always a few moments when a monument evokes emotions: during its erection, unveiling, profanation or destruction.

One can clearly see from a similar perspective the idea of monuments as components of space. A number of studies focus on the production of space, the shaping of it by power relations, and the everyday practices concerning it. While for Foucault, space is central not only to communal life but also to any exercise of power, de Certeau describes the use of tactics as way of staying out of the reach of power and realizing one’s own preferences. An individual’s everyday practices, such as doing, moving, and walking, are impossible to control and determine. Walking allows the voyeur to select and fragment her own space.[17] Monuments, originally charged with the great significance of freezing in time and glorifying a remote historical event or hero, are not necessarily significant for pedestrians, flâneurs, tourists, or city inhabitants. Yet these people can identify spaces that are significant to their individual memories, family histories, beliefs or ideologies.

Monuments are not constructed in a void, they are constructed in specific spaces related to their themes, or places considered as ceremonial, in order to increase their visibility and influence. A ceremonial space is a space used by kings, priests, and governments to present themselves to the ruled and to demonstrate their power.[18] Ceremonial space is often a central location in the city and the most common item on a travel itinerary, surrounded by historic buildings and markers. Monuments placed in such locations can derive an additional power from the articulation of the space around them. “Everyday interaction with the space takes on greater meaning in an atmosphere of concentrated aesthetics,” wrote the authors of a catalogue on Venice squares.[19] The aesthetic value of a monument can support or diminish its influence on passersby, and can lead to debates or even large-scale controversies.

Monuments and ceremonial space belong also to the sacred space. This is well reflected in a number of languages where vandalizing a monument is called de-sanctification or profanation. Many monuments constructed in the 19th and 20th centuries were placed on high plinths or surrounded by chains to prevent people from approaching them. This spatial distance was created to honor the monarchs and rulers, to represent their belonging to a higher, sacred sphere. Monuments constructed during the last few decades, often built at street level, are composed in such a way that people pass through them. An example is the Vienna Monument Against War and Fascism, located on the Albertina Square.[20] Approaching such monuments requires crossing a border, sometimes invisible but still clear for people. A physical distance between the monument and the viewer depends on the nature of the monument. My observation is that people are more inclined to touch a monument to a local cyclist or a dog than a monument to the victims of war, unless “invited” to do so, such as at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. The distance between the viewer and the monument also depends on the culture and habits of a population (see, e.g., Edward Hall), though this issue is hardly researched.

In analyzing monuments, I am interested in their three dimensions: material, functional and symbolic. These combine with issues of memory, continuity, rituals, responsibility, power, and everyday practices. In this essay, I will analyze the material beginnings of monuments, their structure, their change in function over time, their symbolic meaning, their relation to the writing national and local histories, and the individual and group attitudes towards them.

In my study, memorial cityscape consists not only of monuments, but also of street names and buildings with symbolic meaning. The importance that the role of street naming and renaming has in the construction of narratives of national and local identity is unquestionable. Traditionally, street names designated the geographical orientations, the ownership of houses in the area, and the occupations of local inhabitants. Gradually, during the state building process, street names started to play a similar role to monuments in the building of national identity and popularizing a vision of history. Azaryahu pointed out that street names “conflate history and geography and bring the past that they commemorate into the everyday language and ordinary settings of human life.”[21] Street names are inscribed not only on street plates and city plans, but also on identity cards, education diplomas, and postcards received from friends, becoming a part of a people’s identity. Therefore, street names are also contested and changed, as has happened several times in history. It is easier to change street and square names than to erect and remove monuments, yet old names often live in people’s minds long after their official disappearance.

Buildings and architecture are another component of cityscapes. I am particularly interested in buildings with symbolic value for the community and authorities, such as the offices of local governments or offices of local committees of the Polish United Workers’ Party (the Communist Party, the “PZPR”). A good example of such a building is the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. Yampolsky wrote that the transfer of the Soviet capital to Moscow, and the concentration of political power in the Kremlin was not only “a transfer of power from the periphery to the spatial center, but it [was] also the placement of power inside walls.”[22] Is it therefore relatively easy to change the function of a building or to hide its previous function, or is the building’s meaning embodied in its architecture?

The heritage of a city is further represented in its “historic routes,” which mainly encompass historic buildings and monuments, sometimes rescued from oblivion. These routes are described in guidebooks, on commemorative plaques, and on the internet. The first historic routes were designed at the beginning of the 20th century, yet it is only during the last decade that numerous routes have appeared in each city. Historic routes promote a certain vision of a city and its history, offered mainly to school children and youth, individual and group tourists, and visiting officials. As was the case with monuments and street names, the questions are: 1) whose heritage does the route represent, 2) does the route reflect the same identity as the identity claimed by its residents, and 3) is the route designed for tourists, artists, flâneurs, passersby, or locals?

While the city can be read as a text, it is even more interesting to study it as a texture composed of layers of meaning, which are different for inhabitants and visitors, artists and local authorities, historians and local activists. The city can also be compared to a palimpsest, with its constantly reused space, inscription of new meanings, the erection and removal of monuments, changing street names and changing functions of buildings. How can one construct an identity of a city, when previous histories of the city are still visible? And how can a city’s populace relate to the reshaped representations of the past, evidenced especially by monuments, but also by street names and buildings? This project addresses these questions, examining cases in Pozna?, Lublin, and Kraków in Poland.

The Monument Landscape in Pozna?, Kraków, and Lublin

The existing monuments in Poland come from different periods and represent very different ideas, thus a starting point for my analysis is discovering their individuals stories. Taking a longue durée perspective is inevitable, because at the beginning of the 21 st century monuments that were constructed in the 19th century still exist. In general, the erection and removal of monuments corresponded to major political changes: 1918 – the regaining of Polish independence, 1939 – the Nazi and Soviet occupation, 1944-45 – the liberation of Polish territories by the Red and Polish armies and the gradual introduction of the communist regime, and 1989 – the end of the communist rule.


Monuments Built in Pozna? Before 1939

  • Monument to Friederick von Steinmetz, 1870–1919
  • Wilhelm I Monument, 1889–1919
  • Friederick II Monument, 1902–1919
  • Bismarck Monument, 1903–1919
  • Monument to a Brandenburg Knight, 1906–1919
  • Monument to Marshal August von Gneisenau, 1913–1919
  • The Castle, 1905
  • Mickiewicz Monument, 1859–1940
  • Jan Kochanowski Monument, 1889
  • Monument of Gratitude (Sacred Heart of Jesus), 1932–1939
  • Monument to Wielkopolska Insurgents (at the cemetery), 1918
  • Lancers’ (of 1918) Monument, 1927–1939
  • Woodrow Wilson Monument, 1931–1940
  • Ko?ciuszko Monument, 1932–1939
  • Freedom Mound, 1922

Monuments Built in Pozna? Between 1945 – 2004

  • Monument to the Soviet Soldiers (citadel), 1945
  • Stalin Bust (train station), 1949-1956
  • 2 nd Mickiewicz Monument, 1960
  • Kasprzak Monument, 1963
  • ?wierczewski Monument, 1975
  • Juri Gagarin Monument, 1977
  • Monument to Wielkopolska Insurgents, 1965
  • Monument of the Fighters on the Citadel, 1965
  • Ko?ciuszko Monument, 1967
  • Monument of June 1956 (castle square), 1981
  • Monument to the Pozna? Army, 1982
  • Lancers’ Monument, 1982
  • Woodrow Wilson Monument, 1994
  • Miko?ajczyk Monument, 1997
  • Monument to the Victims of Katy? and Siberia, 1999
  • Monument of the Sacred Savior, 2000
  • John Paul II Monument, 2000
  • Monument of Old Marych, 2001
  • Cyryl Ratajski Monument, 2002

In Pozna?, the first monuments honoring Polish figures were constructed during the Prussian rule. These monuments honored Polish writers: the Mickiewicz Monument, erected in 1859 after a few years of petitioning for permission to build, and the monument honoring Jan Kochanowski[23]. Their locations were peripheral: the Mickiewicz Monument was erected next to St. Marcin church and then in 1904 moved to the inner court of a local scholarly association, while the Kochanowski Monument was located on Ostrów Tumski on the outskirts of the city, next to the cathedral. The city center and representational spaces were dominated by monuments honoring German politicians, rulers and fighters, with the Bismarck Monument being the most prominent.

In 1905, a royal castle (“Kaiserschloss Posen”) was built in neo-Romanesque style in the city center. Since the castle represented Prussian rule for the Poles, its destruction was already being planned in 1918. Due to the insufficient number of buildings that could house Polish institutions during the inter-war period, the castle was not destroyed, but housed the university and city administrations. In 1919, several German monuments were destroyed in a spontaneous action by Polish inhabitants. In their places new Polish monuments were erected, mainly honoring the fight for independence. The largest and centrally located monument, placed on the exact spot of former Bismarck monument, was the Monument of Gratitude for the regaining of independence. The monument was a statue of Jesus, named the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was erected in 1932, although the decision to construct it had already been made in 1920, during the first Catholic convention in Pozna?. It was constructed with re-used parts of the Bismarck Monument, by melting the bronze statue of Bismarck and using the material to cast the statue of Jesus.[24] The Monument of Gratitude was criticized for its lack of artistic value and its unsuitable location, which was selected for purely symbolic reasons. Similar to the Monument of Gratitude, new monuments often re-used the plinths of old German monuments. This was not only practical, but had symbolical meaning, representing the political and symbolic victory over German power. The destruction of German monuments also implied an attempt to move the German past into oblivion. To commemorate the regaining of independence in 1919, Pozna? inhabitants started a collective action to build the Mound of Freedom outside the city, which was finished in 1922.

Newly built monuments, such as the Woodrow Wilson Monument, built to honor the American president for his support of Polish independence, symbolized political alliances. The new monuments also commemorated local battles for independence: the Wielkopolska Uprising of 1918,[25] and the Fifteenth Lancers Regiment, which fought in 1918. There were plans to build monuments to the freedom fighters on the citadel, an old Prussian fortress next to the cemeteries of those that fell in World War I. In addition, monuments to local politicians like Karol Marcinkowski[26] were proposed for the citadel. In 1932, the Ko?ciuszko Monument was unveiled, honoring the leader of the 1794 uprising, which aimed to prevent the last Partition of Poland. In most cases, monuments were built by the city authorities, yet the authorities often discussed the projects and locations with members of various social associations, organized fund-raising actions, and had the local press cover the events to advocate social support.

After the German invasion in September 1939, several monuments were destroyed: the Gratitude Monument, the Lancers’ Monument, the Woodrow Wilson Monument, and the Ko?ciuszko and Mickiewicz Monuments, although new monuments honoring German figures were not built. During the Nazi occupation, the castle served as the residence of the Nazi Party regional official (Gauleiter) Arthur Greisler, and it was reshaped to serve as a residence for Adolf Hitler, who never actually stayed in the castle. The destruction of the castle was already decided before the German capitulation, but it was not yet implemented. After the war, the castle housed the province committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (the communist party), the city authorities (serving as a marriage palace), and a cultural center. Despite these functional changes, the form of the castle was not changed, although every few years the future of the castle was discussed.

In 1945, a monument to the Soviet Soldiers was constructed, to commemorate the battle of the German and Red Armies in February 1945. The monument, which consisted of a high obelisk crowned with a red star, was constructed on the citadel, next to the Red Army cemetery. Stalin’s bust was placed in the train station on his 70th birthday anniversary and then removed in 1956. The castle square was also named Stalin Square, and renamed Mickiewicz Square in 1956.

In the 1960s and 1970s, several monuments to communist heroes were built.
General Karol Walter ?wierczewski and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin were honored
by monuments built in new apartment complexes named ?wierczewski and Great
October, and socialist activist Kasprzak was also honored by a monument built
in Kasprzak Park, formerly Wilson Park.[27] Concurrently,
national monuments were erected and the pre-war monuments destroyed by the
Nazis were rebuilt. A huge Mickiewicz monument was unveiled on the castle square,
and there was even a project to reshape the castle tower into a giant Mickiewicz
monument. Additionally, the Monument to the Wielkopolska Uprising was erected
next to one of the main streets, and the Ko?ciuszko Monument was reconstructed
and unveiled on the 150th anniversary of his death. Although in the 1970s the
regime did not succeed in propagating communist ideology, and its legitimization
was based on economic achievements and paternal frameworks, it nevertheless
attempted to propagate its ideology through celebrations, literature, cinema,
and monuments. New or rebuilt monuments honored not only communist tradition
but also honored so-called “progressive” national history and heroes who were
incorporated into the communist past. An especially important period commemorated
by these monuments was the fight for independence from German rule.

Monument to Wielkopolska Insurgents, Pozna? (photo: I.Main)

During the period of legalized Solidarity, in 1981, the regime permitted the
construction of the monument commemorating the events of June 1956 in Pozna?.[28] The
monument consists of religious and national symbols: two crosses, an eagle,
and ropes tying the crosses. It bears the inscription “For Freedom, Justice, and Bread – June 1956,” and the dates 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976 and 1980. The monument is located on the castle square, where the clashes of June 1956 took place. The central location, religious symbolism, enormous size and the message of this monument was an insult to the PZPR that tried to prevent its construction. Even so, the 25th anniversary of June 1956 inspired the Solidarity of Pozna? citizens to press the authorities for permission to build the monument. This monument is a clear example that already during the communist period, in specific historic moments, communities could build their own monuments – even monuments that commemorated victims of the regime – sometimes in such a prominent location as Pozna?.[29] The
juxtaposition of the two giant crosses with the castle and with the building
of the Party committee of Pozna? province symbolically reflected the conflict
between Polish society and the state during this period.

Monument of June 1956, Pozna? (photo: I.Main)

In the early 1980s, the Monument of the Pozna? Army and the Lancers’ Monument were unveiled by the authorities. The first monument honored the Army, commanded by Tadeusz Kutrzeba, and the lost battle of Bzura in September 1939 – an
event that was not commemorated after the war but gradually re-entered the
commemorative sphere.[30] Similarly,
the Lancers’ Monument, reconstructed in 1982, was built after years of petitioning
by a group of former lancers.[31] Thereafter, in the 1980s, a few pre-war and war-time figures and events were honored by the communist authorities. These monuments constructed by the communist authorities were attempts to gain legitimacy by fulfilling the societal expectation, created during the Solidarity Period, of honoring freedom fighters. Even though the regime lost all social support after the introduction of the martial law in December 1981, it still kept appearances and tried to hide behind the facade that it best represented Polish traditions.[32]

In 1989, the giant red star from the Monument to the Soviet Soldiers was removed, but the obelisk remained on the citadel. A few other monuments to communist heroes were also removed, and in some instances replaced by new ones. For example, Kasprzak Monument was removed and placed in his home village; it was replaced by the Thomas Woodrow Wilson Monument that was originally in the park named after him and re-named Kasprzak Park between 1963 and 1989. The ?wierczewski and Gagarin Monuments were not removed, yet the names of the apartment complexes were changed to Popie?uszko[33] and Under Lime Trees.

Newly constructed monuments commemorated events strongly contested during the communist rule. The monument to the victims of Siberia and Katy? was erected in the yard behind the castle in 1999 as a result of the initiative of the Association “Katy?.” Both location and artistic form were discussed and criticized, but the pressure exerted by the Association “Katy?” and the local political situation led to its fast construction for the 55th anniversary of the Katy? murders.[34] During the communist period, Katy? symbolized the dark sites of Polish-Soviet relations. Manipulated by and silenced by the regime, the word Katy? encompassed not only this massacre, but also the Soviet crimes of 1939-1941, the lack of Soviet assistance during the Warsaw uprising in 1944, the post-war murders committed by both the Soviets and the Polish Communists.

Monument to the Victims of Katy? and Siberia, Pozna? (photo: I.Main)

In 1999, a plaque was placed on the steps of the June 1956 Monument, stating that “The Monument of Christ, the King [sic], founded by the community of Pozna? in gratitude for independence, was in this place until 1939, when it was destroyed by the Nazi occupation.”[35] In 2000, two religious monuments were built: a monument to Pope John Paul II was erected near the cathedral, and the Monument to the Sacred Savior was built next to the church of the same name. Local archbishop Juliusz Paetz had taken the initiative of honoring the Pope with a monument, and had proposed that city authorities place it on Mickiewicz Square. After long consultation and discussion, however, it was erected near the cathedral, on the outskirts of the city center.[36]

As a result of the initiatives of local politicians, a few monuments to pre-war political leaders, like Miko?ajczyk and Ratajski, were also unveiled. In some cases, there were intense debates about the post-1989 monuments concerning their locations, artistic forms, and unveiling ceremonies. Nevertheless, the decisions were made by only a few officials, and there was hardly ever intense social campaigning concerning the need to erect new monument. Just when I was writing this study, Karol Marcinkowski monument was unveiled in June 2005.

As a sign of certain weariness with political arguments regarding new monuments commemorating national heroes, the idea was introduced to honor less prestigious persons. In response to this idea, the Monument to Old Marych was erected in 2001. Marych, a fictitious person created by a radio journalist, spoke dialect and embodied local traditions and habits. A radio referendum publicly decided the location of the monument, its form, and which person in the Pozna? community most deserved to be honored. The monument, a statue of a life-sized man holding a briefcase and wearing a cap, standing with his bicycle on the street, received much more widespread praise than most of the monuments erected in the 1990s.


Monuments Built in Krakow Between 1800 –1944

  • Mickiewicz Monument, 1898–1940
  • Jadwiga and Jagie??o Monument, 1886
  • Gra?yna and Litawor Monument 1886
  • Fryderyk Chopin Monument, 1890–1931
  • Kopiernik (Copernicus) Monument, 1900
  • Artur Grottger Monument, 1903
  • Grunwald Monument, 1910–1940
  • Tadeusz Ko?ciuszko Monument, 1921– 1940
  • Józef Pi?sudski Tomb (Wawel), 1935
  • Józef Dietel Monument, 1938
  • Ko?ciuszko Mound, 1820
  • Józef Pi?sudski Mound, 1937

Monuments Built in Krakow Between 1945-2004

  • P?aszów Memorial in Memory of the Holocaust Victims, 1948
  • Mickiewicz Monument, 1955
  • Monument to the Polish-Soviet Brotherhood, 1958–1990
  • Lenin Monument (Nowa Huta), 1973–1989
  • Monument to the Military Actions of the Proletariat, 1986
  • Marshal Koniev Monument, 1987–1991
  • Tadeusz Ko?ciuszko Monument, 1960
  • Grunwald Monument, 1976
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 1976
  • W?adys?aw Boy-?ele?ski Monument, 1980
  • W?adys?aw Sikorski Monument (Nowa Huta), 1982
  • Stanis?aw Wyspia?ski Monument, 1982
  • John Paul II (The Bishops’ Palace) Monument, 1980
  • Katy? Cross, 1990
  • Monument to John Paul II, 2000
  • Piotr Skarga Monument, 2001

In Krakow in the 19th century, the high degree of autonomy allowed under the Austria-Hungarian monarchy permitted the construction of several national monuments. In 1820, the city authorities decided to honor Tadeusz Ko?ciuszko, who died in 1817. They did not choose a monument, however, but the visible and durable symbol of a mound, placed on the outskirts of the city.[37] Polish monuments were also constructed in the city center: the Mickiewicz Monument was constructed on the market square on the 100th anniversary of his birth, and several smaller statues of Chopin, a few Polish kings, and literary figures were constructed in Planty Park near the city center.

Mickiewicz Monument, Kraków (photo: Barbara Sanocka)

In 1910, the Grunwald Monument, which commemorated the 500th anniversary of the victorious battle over the Teutonic Order, was unveiled near the city center. Constructed atop a plinth were the statues of King Jagie??o on his horse and Lithuanian Prince Witold, below the figure of mortally wounded Urlich von Jungingen, surrounded by Polish and Lithuanian fighters. Ignacy Paderewski, a musician and politician living in Paris, undertook financing the monument.[38] For a time there were no monuments honoring Austrian rulers, yet a bridge that opened in 1850 and the water supply system opened in 1901 were both named after Kaiser Franz Josef I.[39]

Grunwald Monument, Kraków (photo: I.Main)

During the inter-war years, the monument to Ko?ciuszko was built next to the castle. In 1934, the City Council decided to build the Independence Mound in Kraków. After Pi?sudski’s death, however, it was proposed that the mound should bear Pi?sudski’s
The Pi?sudski Mound was built first by Krakovians, and later by Poles coming
from other regions, rolling wheelbarrows of soil. More specifically, soil from
different battlefields in Poland and from around the world was brought in urns
and sacks and placed in the mound, reinforcing its meaning of a national site
symbolizing the centuries of the fight for independence. Over the years, the
mound served as a site for commemorative rituals, national pilgrimages, and
as a tourist attraction.[41] During
the Nazi occupation, Mickiewicz, Grunwald and Ko?ciuszko monuments were destroyed,
yet new monuments did not replace them.

In 1948, the P?aszów Monument became the first monument built after the war, on the site of a small Nazi extermination camp at the outskirts of Kraków.[42] The Monument to the Polish-Soviet Brotherhood in Arms, was built first in 1958 near the city center, at the route which Red Army marched towards the west. In the 1950s, there were small statues of Stalin and Lenin sitting on a bench in Strzelecki Park, next to the Kraków Lenin Museum. These statues were most likely removed in 1956.[43] In 1973, the Lenin Monument was erected on the central square, a name taken from Soviet parlance, in Nowa Huta – Poland’s first socialist city and steelworks, also named after Lenin. The cornerstone was ceremoniously placed on the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth in 1970. This was during the period when the project of creating a new man failed, as best exemplified by the conflict to build a church in Nowa Huta throughout the 1960s. A few other communist monuments were built in the 1980s: the Monument to the Military Actions of the Proletariat, and the Monument to Marshal Koniev, the commander of the Red Army that entered Kraków in January 1945. While these communist monuments were being erected, national monuments were rebuilt. The Mickiewicz Monument was reconstructed on the main square in 1955, the Ko?ciuszko Monument was rebuilt near the castle in 1960, and the Grunwald Monument was reconstructed in 1976 next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1980, the first monument to the Pope was unveiled in Kraków next to the bishop’s palace, a gift from an Italian artist.[44]

As a part of the cross-country wave of destroying monuments in 1989, the
Lenin Monument, the Koniev Monument, and the Brotherhood Monument were removed.
The former was sold to a Swedish entrepreneur. New monuments were soon constructed:
the Katy? Cross was erected in 1990 on the Royal Way, and the Monument to Pope
John Paul II was constructed in 2000 on the site of the former Lenin and Stalin
statues. The abandoned and devastated Pi?sudski Mound was renovated in 2002,
and an association plans to also construct a Pope Mound. The most heated discussion
followed the erection of the Piotr Skarga Monument in 2001. The monument to
Skarga, a Jesuit spokesman and writer of the late 16th and early 17th centuries,
was built next to the St. Peter and Paul Church, where his tomb is located.
The Skarga Monument was built without permission, as the result of a charity
association’s initiatives. Critics questioned the idea of building the monument,
as well as its location and its artistic form, as closer resembling a fighter
with sword than a priest with a book, as intended by the artist.[45] Recently
discussed proposals for new monuments include a monument on the site of Heroes
of the Ghetto Square in the Podgórze District of Kraków, from which the Jews
were transported to the death camps during the Nazi occupation. Other proposed
monuments include a monument to the victims of mass killings in Wo?y? during
the Second World War in the Ukraine, and a monument to Armenian victims.[46] These
monuments – controversial, highly politicized, and implicated in international
relations with the Ukraine, Turkey, Israel and the USA – are debated by different
political parties and veterans’ associations. However, many newly erected and
proposed monuments also honor less-debated ideas and persons: artists (the
Skrzynecki Monument), Polish kings (a group of 44 statues along the River Vistula),
or even a dog faithfully waiting for his owner who was killed in a car accident.[47]

John Paul II Monument, Kraków (photo: Izabella Main)


Monuments Built in Lublin Before 1944

  • Monument to the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1826
  • Orthodox Church, 1876–1924
  • Monument to the Constitution of May Third, 1916 (reshaped in 1981)
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 1924

Monuments Built in Lublin After 1944

  • Monument of Gratitude to Soviet Soldiers, 1944–1989
  • Bierut Monument, 1979–1989
  • Monument to Jewish Victims (Ghetto), 1963
  • Majdanek Monument, 1971
  • Monument to the Worker (Lublin strikes of July 1980), 1981
  • Monument to the Pope and Primate Wyszy?ski, 1983
  • Katy? Cross, 1999
  • Monument to the Mothers of Siberia’s Victims, 1999
  • Pi?sudski Monument, 2001

In Lublin several Polish national monuments were constructed under the Russian rule. In 1826, the Monument to the Polish-Lithuanian Union[48] was built as a result of an initiative of a Polish intellectual association from Warsaw. In 1916, during the time of temporal Austrian rule, the Monument of the Constitution of May Third was constructed on the same central square.[49] The only building in Lublin to ever symbolize Russian authority was a huge Orthodox church built on the same square in 1876, though there were other Orthodox churches that served the small Orthodox population. After the regaining of Polish independence in 1918, this large church was destroyed and the material was used for the construction of the House of Soldiers. On the main square, named Lithuanian Square after the union, a new monument was constructed in 1924: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, although called a tomb, was unlike the Warsaw tomb in that it did not contain the remains of the unknown soldiers. The idea of constructing these tombs for unknown soldiers came from cities like Paris and London, where such monuments were erected after the Great War, as mentioned above.[50]

The Monument of Gratitude to the Soviet Soldiers had already been built on Lithuanian Square in August of 1944, at the time of the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupation. Even though the Communists had just established the first ruling committee, the Polish government-in-exile in London was internationally recognized, and the war had not yet ended, new authorities were already symbolically establishing their power and friendship with the Soviet Union. In 1949, Lithuanian Square, as it was called during the inter-war period (though renamed Hitler Square during the war) was renamed yet again as Stalin Square on Stalin’s 70th birthday, the old name was reintroduced in 1956. Only two people, both of them historians, out of the many whom I have interviewed, mentioned that Plac Litewski was ever named Stalin Square. They also knew that it used to be called Hitler Square. The name Stalin Square was used in the press and in official documents in the 1950s, while inhabitants called the square by its former name.[51]

In 1979, the only monument to the First Secretary of the PZPR, Boles?aw Bierut, who was born in Lublin[52], was built in a new socialist district. According to communist propaganda, it was constructed as a result of local initiative, yet actually, the decision to construct the monument was made by the Central Committee of the PZPR, and there was even a local protest letter. There were also plans to build a monument honoring the liberation of Lublin and the July Manifesto of 1944. Design competitions were even organized, but finally only two plaques commemorating the event were unveiled in 1954 and 1964.[53]

In 1963, the Monument of the Ghetto’s Victims was erected in the city center. The cornerstone of the monument was laid on the 20th anniversary of the Holocaust of the Lublin Jews. In 1971, the Majdanek Memorial was unveiled on the former site of the Majdanek death camp, a few kilometers outside Lublin. This memorial is composed of the Monument to Struggling and Martyrdom, the Road of Homage, and the Mausoleum – a giant dome-like construction covering the ashes of the victims.[54] The museum had a certain ambiguity in how it commemorated the Holocaust – the victims were commemorated as Poles, French, Czech, and so on, even though it was their Jewish identity which led them to their death. This treatment of commemorating the victims was mostly visible in museum displays at the sites of death camps and it was gradually changed after 1989. The memorials in Majdanek, near Lublin, and P?aszów, in Kraków, have a universal significance in terms of architectural forms and symbols.

Majdanek Monument, Lublin (photo: Kazimierz O?óg)

During the Solidarity Period in 1981, the Monument to the Worker, which honored the Lublin strikes in July 1980, was constructed and placed in front of the car repair factory where the strikes started. The monument consists of a wooden cross and a realistic statue of a worker, arms stretching above his head and broken chains on his hands, on a pile of stones. The artistic form of the monument had already been heavily criticized before the unveiling in July of 1981. Before May 3, 1981, the Monument of the Constitution, previously neglected, was reshaped as a result of an initiative by the Democratic Party, an ally party of the PZPR. The monument was enlarged by placing it on a plinth, crowned with the national emblem of an eagle, and moved to a more central location on Lithuanian Square.

The Unveiling Ceremony of the Monument to the Worker, Lublin (photo: Archive of the Lublin Solidarity)

Monument to the Constitution of May Third shortly after the unveiling ceremony in 1981, Lublin (photo: unknown author, private collection)

Stone to the Constitution of May Third, Lublin (photo: unknown author, private collection)

In 1989, the Gratitude Monument and Bierut Monument were removed. The first was actually destroyed while the second was moved to the Gallery of the Art of Socialist Realism in Koz?ówka, near Lublin. The Pi?sudski Monument, a realistic sculpture of Pi?sudski on a horse, placed on a high plinth, was unveiled in 2001 on the exact site of the Gratitude Monument. It was constructed due to a strong initiative by the city president, although since it was constructed without the necessary licenses, it was not attached to the ground until permission for construction was granted. It was heavily criticized for its mediocre artistic form.

Pi?sudski Monument, Lublin (photo: Kazimierz O?óg)

In 1999, the Monument to the Mothers of Siberia’s Victims and the Katy? Cross were unveiled, both in the city center. The local Association of the Victims of Siberia undertook the initiative to build the first monument. A parish priest proposed the erection of the second monument, after he discovered that one of the previous parish priests had been killed in Katy?. Both monuments have realistic forms, include religious and national symbols (a cross, a flag, an eagle), and were financed by individual donations and the Home Army Association.[55]

Finally, the most recently constructed, yet temporal, monument honors the accession of Poland to the European Union. The Gate of Two Unions honors the Polish-Lithuanian Union of 1569 and the European Union, with the Bell of Europe. After a ceremony on May 1, 2004, the bell was hung in the Dominican Church and a plaque was unveiled on the site of the Gate.[56]

Even though various regimes built monuments on Polish territories to honor their own heroes and historical narratives, they often permitted the construction of monuments welcomed by the communities. Though new regimes created new monuments, changes did not occur as rapidly as is often assumed. Polish national monuments were built in the three partitioned lands before Poland was an independent state. The Nazi occupation did not result in the destruction of all previous monuments. In Pozna?, which was incorporated into the Reich, centrally located monuments that commemorated the fight for freedom from the German state were destroyed. Likewise, in Kraków, the capital of the General Gubern and “uralte deutsche Stadt,” similar monuments were demolished. In Lublin, however, monuments were not destroyed, perhaps because they commemorated the Polish-Lithuanian Union and the Constitution.

Communist rule allowed the construction of monuments very different than those monuments previously constructed. Monuments to the Soviet Army and revolutionary heroes, victims of Nazism, and national heroes (which often were reconstructed pre-war monuments) were to be expected. Surprisingly, though the communist regime permitted the construction of Solidarity and Pope monuments in the 1980s. After the change in political systems in 1989, some monuments were yet again destroyed – many, however, remained. The newly constructed monuments often honored the victims of the Soviet Union (e.g., the Katy? Cross, Monument to the Mothers of Siberia’s Victims) and religious persons (the plethora of Pope monuments), yet also honored regional politicians and artists. Gradually, memorials began to evoke a non-Polish past, especially plaques and historical routes, discussed later. Monuments erected after 1989 were built as a result of compromises between different parties, politicians, associations, and individuals, and communities were usually encouraged to take part in these decisions. This indicates that monuments were not always erected as the result of a democratic process – sometimes they reflected the chaotic conditions of Polish politics and the emerging Polish civil society.

Interestingly, no monuments to Solidarity, the elections of June 4, 1989, or Lech Wa??sa were constructed. This might be explained by Polish society’s ambiguous feelings about the end of communist rule. The end of Communism is applauded mainly by intellectuals and the younger generation, while a large part of Polish society expresses nostalgia for the “great 1970s” under the rule of Edward Gierek. While the idea to honor Wa??sa with a monument was criticized and jeered at, and many critiques appeared when the airport in Gda?sk was recently named after him, a Gierek monument is planned to be built in W?oc?awek.[57]

The idea to build a monument, sometimes imposed upon the populace or considered controversial, is only the beginning of the activities surrounding it. A monument can inspire and incite many activities, including commemorative rituals, illegal demonstrations, destruction, individual encounters, or neglect.

Monuments as Sites of Action

The unveiling ceremony is the first occasion which popularizes and reveals social attitudes towards a new monument. In the case of the German monuments in Pozna?, the unveiling ceremonies did not necessarily always meet the expectations of the organizers. For example, the Monument to Wilhelm I was unveiled without the participation of the royal family, and the majority of the Polish population of Pozna? ignored the unveiling celebrations for the Bismarck and Frederick monuments.[58] During the Partition Period, the unveiling ceremonies of Polish national monuments were themselves often manifestations of patriotism. This occurred in Kraków in 1910, when around 100,000 people attended the ceremony for the Grunwald Monument.[59] The unveiling ceremonies of the early 20th century usually consisted of a military demonstration, a holy mass, ringing of the town bells, speeches by local politicians, and placing flowers near the monument. This format was also followed during the unveiling of the first communist monuments, e.g., The Monument of Gratitude to the Soviet Soldiers in Lublin. Subsequent official unveiling ceremonies, however, had a secular character and participants were partly forcefully gathered. The participants usually included the army, the local members of the PZPR, city officials, veterans and city inhabitants.

The population’s participation in unveiling ceremonies varied, depending on the nature of the monument – socially accepted monuments obviously enjoyed much larger participation than unveiling ceremonies of monuments imposed by the regime. Regardless of the numbers of actual participants, the press usually reported that ceremonies were attended by large, solemn crowds. In the case of the Grunwald Monument in Kraków, rebuilt in 1976 after years of debates, the unveiling ceremony was preceded by a motor rally along the route of Polish battle victories, a cross-country youth rally, a special screening of a related historical movie (“Teutonic Knights”, by Aleksander Ford, 1960[60]), museum exhibitions, and book fairs of special publications. The unveiling ceremony was attended by approximately 50,000 people, even though only 10,000 had official invitations. Although the monument was used to legitimize the regime, it was genuinely welcome by the inhabitants.[61] Similarly, when the Monument to Wielkopolska Insurgents was unveiled in 1965, the ceremony was attended by many thousands of people.[62] Plans for the monument had already begun after the Wielkopolska Uprising, and the populace had petitioned for the monument for years during the Communist rule, especially after 1956 when the uprising was accepted as a part of the regional history.

While the official celebrations of the late Communist period were attended by smaller audiences, the unveiling ceremonies of the monuments initiated by Solidarity in 1980-1981 enjoyed mass participation. The unveiling ceremony of the Monument of June 1956 was attended by Lech Wa??sa, local Solidarity leaders, city authorities and hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom traveled from other cities. In Lublin, thousands of inhabitants attended the unveiling ceremony of the reshaped Monument of the Constitution of May Third. Interestingly, the populace believed that Solidarity had reinforced the idea of the monument’s reconstruction, even though the idea belonged to the Democratic Party. A smaller gathering of a few thousand people attended the unveiling of the Monument to Worker, located outside the Lublin city center.[63]

The unveiling ceremonies initiated by Solidarity usually started with religious masses, which were followed by speeches and the laying of flowers near the monument. State or city officials were usually present because at that time there were still hopes for political change without confrontation. The mass participation in those ceremonies reflected either a desire to show large support for Solidarity and political change, an increased interest in national history, the feeling of belonging to a community in action, or just curiosity. The unveiling ceremonies in the 1990s were small and barely noticeable. Usually, the participants included the initiators of the monument: local authorities, veteran associations, the clergy, and a few inhabitants. The construction of various new monuments was questioned in local press, on internet discussion lists and in private conversations, yet people did not come to protest at the unveiling ceremonies. It seems that for the majority of the population these ceremonies had hardly any meaning.

Monuments are further brought to life during annual celebrations such as anniversaries of the commemorated events, or state and national holidays. The communist holidays of May Day and July 22 nd were celebrated in Lublin by laying wreaths at the Monument of Gratitude, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and later the Bierut Monument.[64] After 1981, the Monument to the Constitution became central to official ceremonies. In Kraków, typical state celebrations were organized around the Monument to the Polish-Soviet Brotherhood in Arms and the Grunwald Monument.

Since 1989, people have visited various monuments on May 3rd and November 11th. These dates are reintroduced pre-war national holidays, celebrating respectively, the anniversary of the proclamation of the May Third Constitution in 1791, and the anniversary of regaining independence in 1918. Lublin ceremonies on May 3rd and November 11th take place at the Monument of the Constitution, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Monument of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, and the Pi?sudski Monument, all located on the central Lithuanian Square. In Pozna?, celebrants observe November 11th at the Monument to the Wielkopolska Insurgents, yet flowers are also laid at other monuments. On June 28th, the anniversary of the events of 1956, official celebrations take place at the June 1956 Monument. Controversies sometimes form over who to invite to these celebrations, since Solidarity was transformed into various competing groups, and its former leaders are not necessarily respected. In Kraków, official celebration routes on national holidays include the Pi?sudski Tomb in the Cathedral of the Royal Castle, the Katy? Cross, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

City authorities organize the national holiday celebrations, and various political parties and social associations take part. During the last few celebrations in Kraków, M?odzie? Wszechpolska, or All-Poland’s Youth, a nationalist youth organization, protested against members of the SLD (the Democratic Left Alliance) laying flowers at the Katy? Cross and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.[65] On May Day in 2004, to avoid a similar protest, the SLD laid flowers at the peripheral Monument to the Military Actions of the Proletariat in Kraków.

Concurrent to celebrations of communist holidays and national holidays, various associations also commemorate the victims of the communist regime at specific monuments. Many monuments on the outskirts of the cities are not visited on any official occasions, e.g., the Monument to the Worker in Lublin, yet individuals still lay flowers or light candles there. Many monuments, if built due to the initiative of certain associations like veterans associations which maintain specific social interests, and if not centrally located, are not noticed on national holidays or related anniversaries.

Since the 19th century, monuments have been used as sites of protest against rulers and regimes. In Lublin, the illegal gathering and Polish cadets’ Uprising of 1830 took place at the Monument of the Polish-Lithuanian Union.[66] The same monument later became central to illegal demonstrations of political opposition in the late 1970s and 1980s; after 1981, such gatherings mainly took place at the Monument of the Constitution. Usually, the gatherings started after religious masses in nearby churches, and then a group of activists marched towards the monuments to give speeches, lay flowers and light candles, while the militia attempted to prevent the illegal gathering by chasing and arresting its leaders.[67] Demonstrations at various monuments took place on May Day, May 3rd, November 11th, December 13th (the anniversary of the Communist regime’s introduction of martial law in 1981), and the anniversaries of previous social protests.

Since its construction, the Mickiewicz Monument in Kraków has become a principle manifestation of national sentiment. In 1900, young Poles gathered around the monument and sang national songs on All Saints’ Day, then were asked by the Austrian police to disperse.[68] During the Communist period, Mickiewicz was officially considered a national poet laureate who proclaimed patriotism, internationalism (promoting Muscovites as revolutionary friends), and “progressive values,” yet many people felt his writing illustrated tsarist Russia’s oppression of the noble Polish tradition.[69] As Mickiewicz plays were subjected to this double interpretation, historical events led to the ban of Mickiewicz’s “Forefathers’ Eve.” In Warsaw, a prohibition on performing the play led to student demonstrations; at the same time the communist party started an anti-intellectual campaign and later, inspired by the Soviet anti-Israeli policy, an anti-Semitic campaign in 1968 (concluded with emigration of persons of Jewish origins, often intellectuals, from Poland and a few cases of imprisonment). Student demonstrations and clashes in Kraków and Pozna? also took place at Mickiewicz monuments. In both cases, the central location and the proximity to the local party committees played an important role. In 2003 in Kraków, pacifist and anti-Iraq war demonstrations started at Mickiewicz Monument and then marched towards the American Consulate. The Mickiewicz Monument is no longer a monument merely honoring a literary figure; it encompasses the fight for independence, freedom and democracy. The Monument to June of 1956 in Pozna? was also central to anti-Communist demonstrations in the 1980s. Since 1989, Mickiewicz Square has served as a site of pacifist and anti-government demonstrations, e.g., against the war in Iraq in 2003. In Lublin, most demonstrations take place at Lithuanian Square at various monuments.

Additionally, monuments in Poland have not always been used for purposes different than those intended by their creators, some have also been devastated or partially destroyed. A well known example from the Communist period is the attempted destruction of the Lenin Monument in Nowa Huta, near Kraków, in 1978 and 1979. His left foot was torn off in the attempts, but the monument was not finally dismantled until December of 1989. In the 1940s, there were several attempts to destroy the Monument of Gratitude to the Soviet Soldiers in Lublin. Due to these attempts a guard was placed near the monument. In the 1980s the monument was painted red several times by local radicals.[70] Negative attitudes to certain monuments were apparent by the pejorative names people used to refer to them. For example, the Monument of Gratitude in Lublin was called a “Bolshevik” or a “Soviet” because it consisted of a statue of a Soviet soldier with a gun, standing on a plinth.

Monuments constructed in democratic Poland are also criticized. The artistic forms and locations of the Pi?sudski Monument in Lublin and the Skarga Monument in Kraków were widely discussed in the press and by internet discussion groups. In 2002, the All-Poland’s Youth protested against naming a school in honor of Boy-?ele?ski and demanded the removal of his monument (erected in 1980), because it considered him undeserving of a monument due to “immoral writing.” This proposal was objected to by the city authorities, and local artists made fun of the Boy-?ele?ski critics by making several papier mâché Boy-?ele?ski statues.[71] The debate about this monument reflected political tensions in Kraków, where right wing groups attempted to be very visible in public life and to impose their vision of the past upon a larger public, while opposing views are often expressed in the forms of letters and postings on internet discussion groups. Negative voices about monuments are more often expressed and noticeable, maybe because the supporters of such monuments only visit them on certain occasions.

Some Polish monuments are used for non-political actions. An example is the Old Marych Monument in Pozna?, which is has become a center for activities on the first day of Spring. Since young people have pointed out the monument’s human and non-heroic nature, it has become a meeting point and a site of artistic actions. The steps of Mickiewicz Monument in Kraków are used by young people as a meeting point and sitting area. Skrzynecki Monument in Kraków is perceived as part of the design of a famous club, created by Skrzynecki himself. Visitors come, drink coffee and enjoy the company of the famous artist in Kraków, although originally it was planned that the monument was to be moved from place to place. The Pozna? Army Monument and the Ko?ciuszko Mound in Kraków are used for skating and skiing, which has been criticized by the neighborhood locals and officials. The surrounding areas of the Monument to Holocaust Victims in P?aszów are used as a recreation area by the inhabitants of the district. Tourists also favor the peripheral location of this monument, a grassy area on the top of small hills, and have made it a focus on holocaust tours and marches of memory. An inhabitant of the area compared the giant monumental structure to a hill, which, like the nearby trees, is almost a timeless part of the landscape.

Monuments to the Pope are largely supported by the Polish population, which is a natural result of his position as a national leader. Many people of different ages interviewed about Pope’s monuments pointed out their positive and universal value. Some mentioned that these monuments unite the nation; others mentioned that they are good places for thinking and thanksgiving. Negative views on these monuments are scarce, since they would be considered as critiques of the Pope himself.

When questioned about specific monuments, most individuals show ignorance as their history. Sometimes they can guess the monument’s meaning, especially if the name of the honored person is inscribed directly on the monument. One rarely sees people approaching monuments and reading their inscriptions, however, and usually it is school children on a guided tour who do so. When one looks for information on monuments, people refer her to a local historian, sometimes an amateur, or a veterans’ association, as if remembrance is delegated to these few individuals. At the same time, if one questions the existence of a monument or proposes to remove it if hardly anyone visits or remembers it, such an idea would be opposed. Some people criticize the destruction of monuments in 1989 – in Nowa Huta, they even performed an act of re-erecting a temporary Lenin Monument. Just recently a debate started in Lublin, after the owners of a plot wanted to remove the Wieniawski Monument, constructed in 1978, in order to build an apartment complex.[72] New locations for the monument were proposed by city authorities and the Wieniawski Association, but some people pointed out that the monument should not be moved since it was a part of the area. Even when people are ignorant about the message of a monument, who the person honored by the monument is, or when the commemorated event was, many people that I have interviewed still show emotional attachment to the monument, justifying it with a sense of continuity and belonging, saying that it represents “our past.”

Monuments as Reflections of Memory and Identity

Many pre-1989 monuments corresponded to communist ideology and the so-called progressive elements in Poland’s national history. National history, heroes and values were points of reference and contention between the PZPR, the Church, and the opposition, while regional differences and local identities were mostly neglected. After 1989, local and regional interests became increasingly important to legitimize local authorities, define communities, and even to develop tourism. Therefore, I am interested in ways in which cities promote themselves through the use of historic tours. Authorities in each city created these tours of historically important attractions which often include historic monuments, buildings and memorials which are described on special plaques, in special guide books, and on the internet. These tours use and redefine the regional and local history and promote a certain image of the city. Some of these routes were already created in the inter-war period, and later renewed, multiplied and extended during the last decade.

In Lublin, there are three historic routes: 1) the multicultural route; 2) the Jewish route; and 3) the Jagiellonian and union route. There are no post-1989 monuments relating to the Jewish history of the city, but there are a number of plaques and charts informing sightseers about former synagogues, Jewish schools, baths, and other sites of Jewish cultural importance. Lublin also promotes its multicultural past by showing Byzantine, Italian, French, Greek, Turkish, Ukrainian, Russian, Armenian, and other influences in local architecture and culture. In my opinion, this search and promotion of multicultural and of Jewish heritages responds to the idea of a multicultural Europe and the value of having different cultures and religions. The union route consists of monuments and buildings related to the Polish-Lithuanian Union. It also includes a plaque dedicated to Poland’s accession to the EU, unveiled on May 1, 2004 after the temporary monument was dismantled.

Last year, the Lublin City Promotion Office conducted a local discussion and a poll about the ten most important sites in the city that have not only local, but also have European significance. These sites should reflect the rich but also difficult history of the city and region. Lublin is sometimes promoted as a gate to the East, and the role and mission of the city is often seen by its increasing cultural and educational contact and cooperation with eastern neighbors, especially the Ukraine and Belarus. The Institute of East-Central Europe, created in 1991, is especially active in this field. In 2001, the European College of Polish and Ukrainian Universities was created. This post-gradual institution was designed to “advance common interests of Ukraine and Poland” by conducting educational programs and disseminating knowledge about the region among professional circles.[73] The popularity and assessment of these historic routes are issues that have to be researched in the future.

In Kraków, there are many historic routes: 1) the royal route; 2) the Pope John Paul II Route; 3) a saints’ route, mostly focused on medieval saints; 4) the university route; and 5) the Jewish route. These routes consist of buildings marked by historic markers and monuments which assist tourists with finding their way. The first historic tours in Kraków, which included the sites along the royal route, were created at the beginning of the 20th century. Other sites were gradually included, yet it was only after 1989 that a systematic mapping of the city was arranged by the City Promotion Office, after consultations with guides and historians. The saints’ route and John Paul II route, focusing on the medieval and contemporary religious elements of the city’s history, were introduced only a few years ago to respond to the concrete needs of visitors. The emphasis on the Christian past might also be seen as an element of a common European heritage. It might follow from the discourse in the mid-1990s when several intellectuals published articles in the daily press about Poland’s belonging to Europe, emphasizing the common Christian roots of Poland and the West.[74] The Pope John Paul II route is very important, and includes buildings where he lived, taught, and prayed, the graves of his parents, and monuments dedicated to him.

The royal route corresponds to the ceremonial route, and includes the castle, the city walls, the market square, and a few churches. According to a tour guide in Kraków, most tourists come for a day or two to Kraków and visit portions of the royal and university tours, sometimes also visiting portions of the Jewish tour. Students mostly visit sites along the royal tour, incorporating elements from others. Often, they take specialized tours such as the Renaissance in Kraków, Gothic art in Kraków, painters in Kraków, or the legends of Kraków. The religious tours are mainly visited by pilgrimage groups and older people, who visit with a priest. My tour guide interviewee also stated that people do not usually visit the monuments in Kraków, because there are so many other historic buildings, museums, churches and houses to see that there is no time to visit the monuments. The only exception to this rule is the Mickiewicz Monument, located next to the Mariacki Church on the market square. Sometimes groups visit the Ko?ciuszko Mound, but hardly anyone visits the Pilsudski Mound since it is less attractive and difficult to access.

There is no socialist route in Kraków, and plans for promoting Nowa Huta have appeared only very recently. Nowa Huta was first registered in the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments and Historic Sites in the summer of 2004. The cultural center in Nowa Huta prepared a tour of the area, including the central square, the Arka Church (built in the 1970s, after decades of petitioning), the steelworks center, the local Wanda Mound, and old villages around Nowa Huta.[75] In 2004, the Kraków’s city holiday was organized for the first time in Nowa Huta, where the historic document of the location of Kraków was read aloud. This ceremony always formerly took place on the market square in Kraków.[76]

When intellectuals in Kraków discuss the Austro-Hungarian Empire and become nostalgic for the times of Franz Josef, it is interesting to note that this period is not visible in the promoted monuments and buildings of Kraków. References to Habsburg rule are a way of referring to an imagined Central Europe (or Mitteleuropa) and Europe. It seems that such historical attachment is active mostly at the International Culture Centre and the Jagiellonian University. Mach stated that “Cracovians’ nostalgia for good old Austrian times is manifested in numerous symbols of ‘Galicianness,’” yet I do not see these expressions so clearly. There are a few examples of intellectual interest and perhaps nostalgia visible in research topics and book titles, as well as in restaurant names.[77]

In Kraków, there is a visible separation of “old” Kraków, the Jewish district of Kazimierz, and the Communist district of Nowa Huta. Most educational tours for schoolchildren take place in old Kraków, while individual tourists tend to visit both old Kraków and Kazimierz. Foreigners visiting Kraków are also interested in visiting Nowa Huta. Two guidebooks were recently published covering Nowa Huta and Kazimierz, noting a number of routes to take through each district. There is an increasing awareness that Nowa Huta and Kazimierz are also a part of Kraków’s history. This heritage is interesting for visitors, yet the old Kraków, the royal route, and the religious routes in Kraków are perceived as the most important.

Pozna? does not have this clear way of promoting itself. One way of promoting the city would be to focus on its’ Christian past, since Pozna? was the first bishopric in Poland in the 10th century. The cathedral is the burial site of six Polish rulers from the first dynasty of the Piast: Mieszko I and II, Boleslaw Chobry, Kazimierz Odnowiciel, Przemysl I and II. This focus on Pozna?’s religious past is not the case, however. Pozna?’s German history is a subject of hostility and conflict more than one of pride. For example, recently there was a debate about a plaque that would commemorate German soldiers killed during the liberation of Pozna? in 1945. Debates about the fate of the castle lasted for years, and just last year there was a large exhibition by Polish and German scholars of different periods in the castle’s history.[78] Very important to the city’s image are trade fairs, which have been organized there since 1921, including during the Communist period. There seems to be attempts, such as the Old Marych Monument, to promote local dialect and habits. A few older districts started to gather information and publish newsletters about their traditions, dialects, and history.

Recently a discussion began after the director of the Regional Office of Protection of Monuments proposed organizing a royal-imperial route in the city. The route would include sites and building from the 8th century settlements, the Catholic cathedral, the medieval Old Town, the 19th century city center, and the 20th century districts. The name of the route was controversial for a few local politicians, although the idea was not very heavily debated in internet discussions.[79] Pozna? is perceived as a city less attractive to tourists, although officials have only recently started to discuss ways to promote it. At present, tourists mainly visit the town center, Mickiewicz Square and its monuments, the old market and the cathedral. The citadel is visited by the local population and is used as a recreational area.

Interestingly, there are two books about monuments and one about plaques recently published in Pozna?, while only newspaper articles have been written about Lublin and Kraków monuments. There are a number of guidebooks about each city, although most guidebooks are about Kraków and Kraków traditions dominate all the books. In the cases of all three cities, local newspapers are filled with essays and articles about traditions, historic sites, the naming and renaming of streets, and new ideas for monuments. There seems to be little communication, however, between journalists, intellectuals and the local populace on these issues. In many cases, local inhabitants do not know about the historic routes. This is typical for many historic cities, where tourists and newcomers are more interested than the local populace in learning about the city’s heritage and history. In specific cases, however, some inhabitants enter the debates about the city’s heritage, identity and urban landscape.


The story of monuments in Poland reflects centuries of turbulent history. The rationale for the creation of national monuments in Poland is vastly different from Western Europe’s efforts to construct large numbers of monuments as a part of nation-building and state consolidation. With a few exceptions, national monuments in Poland were first constructed in 1918, when they served to unite the previously-divided territory and population. In the 1960s and after, national monuments helped the communist state’s attempts to increase its legitimacy by referring to the nationalist movement. After 1989, a few monuments were unveiled, which honored national heroes whose role was neglected or denied during the communist period.

The strong relationship between monuments and continuity exists at three levels: material, functional and symbolic. Monuments are constructed from durable material, intended to last for decades. The designs of monuments sometimes imitate nature: stones, trees, and other utilized symbols relate to an ancient or imagined past. Continuity also appears in the locations of monuments and their connection the commemorated places. Monuments, for example, are hardly ever removed – if so, removal of a monument meant its destruction or placement in a new, insignificant space. New monuments representing different powers and different histories, erected on the sites of older monuments, derive their meaning from the destruction of the old monuments. They thus represent victory not only in the present, but also over the past. The function of monuments is to recall past deeds and persons, often the glorious history of the nation. Historic continuity is recalled by almost every organizer of national or local celebrations. Even when the story of a monument is unknown, many people feel that the monument still represents their past. Using the Grunwald Monument as an example, a monument symbolically reinforces their identity with stories of previous generations and their activities, which most people know better from literature or movies than from history textbooks.

Historical memory is inscribed in monuments and in markers on historic routes, which reflect historical conscience, political alliances, and the temporary goals of the elites directed to a larger public. Memory, referring again to Assmann, is always related to an actual situation; therefore the changes of space around monuments usually follow the changes of political systems, and resulting in the rewriting of histories. The construction of a monument represents collective activity, with the crucial roles played by the state administration, political parties, and various associations, especially veterans’ associations. The reading of monuments is, however, mostly an individual endeavor based on the individual memory of past events, family history, personal interest in history or lack thereof. Individual memory is influenced by collective memory and by history popularized in textbooks, newspapers, magazines, television, and films. I believe, however, it is an individual’s decision to determine what to remember and how to commemorate it, and what events or people should be forgotten. Individual emotional attitude is crucial for historical memory. For example, the interpretation of a monument is very different for a person emotionally attached to it because it honors her friends or family, or for a believer to view a religious monument to Jesus or to the Pope.

Monuments, because they propose a specific definition of the memory of rulers, the nation, communities and individuals, are usually built and visited by a minority. Large numbers of people are usually only motivated to attend unveiling ceremonies by the influence of propaganda, social action, and certain social compulsions (as during the communist period) or if the monuments were erected due to the social pressure of a larger community and the ceremony serves as a show of resistance to the official ideology (as during the Solidarity period). In a democratic system which allows free expression of political views, monuments are less significant to the communities, although there are radical groups that express their ideology during rituals at certain monuments.

As described by the examples above, individuals and society exhibit a large spectrum of behavior when responding to monuments. The public can use monuments as intended by the initiators, use them as important spaces for protests, utilize them for sports and recreation, or neglect them. The location of a monument can reinforce or diminish its meaning, as can its artistic form. Polish religious and national monuments built during the last decade are perceived as more artistically mediocre than many erected during the communist period. Especially positively assessed are the monuments to the Holocaust victims and the Pozna? Army Monument.

Due to its extended length, this paper only marginally addresses the issues surrounding the naming and renaming of streets, city squares and buildings. Yet these are important elements of memorial space, that also pose interesting research questions. Historic routes mainly represent images of a glorious past, yet more diverse projects have appeared in the last few years that that have led to debates about the past and identity. Cities are composed of layers of structures (buildings, monuments), meanings and activities which cross in specific moments and places. In this essay, I sought to address the cultural and historical roles and functions of monuments, addressing the complex yet fascinating larger theme: why we, societies and individuals, need and want to refer to the past through constructing monuments and historic routes, and how the routes to the past and memory of it are shaped in relation to the present.


I would like to thank the Körber Foundation for granting me a six-month scholarship in the project “History and Memory” in the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna in 2004. This article is the revised version of a paper given at the Junior Fellow’s Conference at the IWM on June 2, 2004. It is based on research undertaken in Lublin, Kraków and Pozna? between 2002 and 2004.
Author’s address: Instytut Etnologii i Antropologii Kulturowej, Uniwersytet im. A. Mickiewicz, ?w. Marcin 78, 61-809 Pozna?, Poland, e-mail:

1. Pomniki[Monuments], edited by Jacek Wiesio?owski (Pozna?: Wydawnictwo Miejskie, 2001); Eugeniusz Goli?ski, Pomniki Poznania [Pozna? Monuments] (Pozna?: Quadra, 2001); Micha? Ro?ek, Przewodnik po zabytkach i kulturze Krakowa [A Guidebook for Historic Monuments and Culture of Kraków] (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2000); Zbys?aw Wojtkowiak, Napisy pami?tkowe miasta Poznania: nowo?ytne napisy zewn?trzne (po?owa XIX wieku pocz?tek XXI wieku) (Pozna?: „Kurpisz”, 2004).

2. Françoise Choay, The Invention of the Historic Monument, translated by Lauren M. O’Connell ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 6.

3. Sergiusz Michalski, Public Monuments. Art in Political Bondage 1870-1997 (London: Reaktion Books, 1998), passim; Rudy Koshar, From Monuments to Traces. Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990 ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 30.

4. In Germany, since the beginning of the 19th century, so-called Nationaldenkmäler were built outside urban settings, since rural and mountainous locations were perceived as best reflecting the German spirit. Yvonne Whelan, Reinventing Modern Dublin. Streetscape, Iconography and the Politics of Identity ( Dublin: University College Dublin Press), 2003; Michalski, Public….

5. Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning. The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); George L. Mosse, Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Antoine Prost, Monuments to the Dead, in: Realms of Memory. Rethinking the French Past, edited by Pierre Nora, vol. 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 307-330.

6. James E. Young, The Texture of Memory. Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993).

7. James E. Young, “Memory and Counter-Memory. The End of Monument in Germany,” Harvard Design Magazine 9 (1999), 2.

8. Karen E. Till, Places of Memory, in: A Companion to Political Geography, edited by John Agnew, Kathrine Mitchell and Gerard Toal (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), 292; David Atkinson, and Denis Cosgrove, „Urban Rhetoric and Embodied Identities: City, Nation, and Empire at the Vittorio Emmanuele II Monument in Rome, 1870- 1945,”Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88/1 (1998); Michalski, Public…, 64-65.

9 Koshar, From Monuments…, 18.

10. Pierre Nora, General Introduction, in: Realms of Memory…, vol. 1, 1-20; Till, Places…, 290-291; Lewis A, Coser, ed., Maurice Halbwachs on Collective Memory (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1992); on Assmann after: Cornelius J., Holtorf, Monumental Past. The Life-Histories of Megalithis Monuments in Macklenburg-Vorpommern ( Germany). A living text based on a doctoral dissertation, submitted to the University of Wales in 1998, (accessed on May 15, 2004).

11. Young, The Texture…, XI.

12. Koshar, From Monuments…, 7.

13. Nora, General Introduction, 11; Young, The Texture…, XI.

14. Michalski, Public…, 45.

15. After: Michalski, Public…, 45-46.

16. Aleksander Wallis, Socjologia przestrzeni [The Sociology of Space] (Warsaw: Niezale?na Oficyna Wydawnicza, 1990).

17. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 141; Michael de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), passim.

18. Juliusz Chro?cicki, Ceremonial Space, in: Iconography, Propaganda and Legitimation, edited by Allan Ellenius (Oxford: European Science Foundation, Clarendon Press, 1998), 193.

19. Alban Janson, Thorsten Bürklin, Scenes: Interactions with Architectural Space: The Campi of Venice ( Basel: Birkhäuser, 2002), 13.

20. Matti Bunzl, “On the Politics and Semantics of Austrian Memory: Vienna’s Monument Against War and Fascism,” History and Memory 7/2 (1996), 7-40.

21. Whelan, Reinventing Modern…, 21-22; Maoz Azaryahu, “Street Names and Political Identity: The Case of East Berlin,” Journal of Contemporary History 21/4 (1986), 581-604.

22. Mikhail Yampolsky, In the Shadow of Monuments. Notes on Iconoclasm and Time, tl. by John Kachur, in: Soviet Hieroglyphics. Visual Culture in Late Twentieth-Century Russia, edited by Nancy Condee (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 97.

23. Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855) was a Polish romantic poet, playwright and a leader of Polish Romanticism; Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584) was a poet and writer during the Renaissance period, he is considered a father of Polish literature.

24. Witold Molik, Pozna?skie pomniki w XIX i na pocz?tku XX wieku [Pozna? Monuments of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries], in Pomniki…, 7-40; Janusz Pazder, O pozna?skich pomnikach po 1918 [About Pozna? Monuments After 1918], in Pomniki…, 41-55.

25. In 1918, Wielkopolska Insurgents successfully fought for joining Polish territories where also the fight for independence took place; Wielkopolska is the region around Pozna?.

26. Karol Marcinkowski (1800-1846) was a Polish physician, social activist in Wielkopolska, supporter of education programmes, organizer of the Society for Scientific Support and a mall in Pozna? (with a hotel, craftsman rooms, and shops).

27.Pomniki…, passim. Marcin Kasprzak (1860-1905) was a socialist and a founder of the Second Proletariat; Karol ?wierczewski, pseudonym Walter (1897-1947) was a communist, a military officer during the Spanish civil war and later a general in Poland; he served as a leading hero of the communist regime in Poland.

28. In June 1956, workers went out into the streets demanding better pay and political change. This large group of anti-government demonstrators broke into the jail, set the prisoners free, and took over the party and the security buildings, including arms. To forcefully suppress the revolt, the government used tanks and fights lasted for several days. Over 70 people were killed, and a few hundred people were wounded. Though political changes were only first introduced after the October Party Meeting, the June events contributed to these changes. The June events is often called today Pozna? Uprising.

29. See: Marcin Meller, Rola my?lenia o historii w ruchu “Solidarno??” w latach 1980-1981 [A Role of Thinking About History in the Solidarity Movement], in: Solidarno?? w ruchu 1980-1981 [Solidarity in Movement], edited by Marcin Kula (Warsaw: Niezale?na Oficyna Wydawnicza NOWA, 2000), 219-266; Izabella Main, National and Religious Holidays as the Clashing Point of the State, the Church and Opposition in Poland, 1944-1989: The Case of Lublin (Ph. Diss, Central European University, Budapest 2002), published as Trudne ?wi?towanie. Konflikty wokó? obchodów ?wi?t pa?stwowych i ko?cielnych w Lublinie w latach 1944 – 1989. Warszawa: Trio, 2004.

30. Lidia Wilkowa, Pomnik Armii “Pozna?” [The Monument to the Pozna? Army], in: Pomniki…, 166-175.

31. Goli?ski, Pomniki…, 25.

32. An interesting discussion of the use of national tradition for its own legitimization throughout communist Poland is offered by Marcin Zaremba, Komunizm, legitymizacja, nacjonalizm. Nacjonalistyczna legitymizacja w?adzy komunistycznej w Polsce[Communism, Legitimization, Nationalism: Nationalist Legitimization of the Communist Rule in Poland] ( Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Trio, ISP PAN, 2001).

33. Jerzy Popie?uszko (1947-1984) was a Catholic priest, a supporter of political opposition who was murdered by security services because of his activities.

34. Katy?, near Smole?sk, is a site where around 30,000 Polish officers and army personnel were executed by NKVD in 1940. They were taken as war prisoners in 1939 after the Soviet invasion. Joanna Figu?a-Czech, Mi?dzy ide? a realizacj?. Pozna?skie pomniki po 1989 roku [Between an Idea and Realization: Pozna? Monuments After 1989], in: Pomniki…, 226-237.

35. Jaros?aw Mulczy?ski, Historia pisana na murach [A History Written On the Walls], in: Pomniki…, 277.

36. Andrzej Nizio?ek, Perypetie z pomnikiem Papie?a [Ups and Downs With the Pope Monument], in: Pomniki…, 213-225. The statue, arranged on a small hillock on the way to the cathedral, is a realistic representation of the Pope with outstretched arms, inviting believers to church. The monument is considered to be one of the better depictions of the Pope.

37. Stanis?aw Mancewicz, Kopcowanie Ko?ciuszki [A Mounding of Ko?ciuszki], Gazeta Wyborcza Nov. 11, 2002.

38. Grunwald was a battlefield where the Knights of the Teutonic Order were defeated by the Polish and the Lithuanian armies in 1410. Ro?ek, Przewodnik…, passim. Ignacy Paderewski (1860-1941) was a pianist and composer as well as a politician, a member of the Polish National Committee in Paris during the Great War, and in 1919 he became the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland.

39. A new hospital (of the Hospital Order of Saint John, Bonifratrzy) was opened on the 50th anniversary of Franz Josef’s reign in 1880. See Ro?ek, Przewodnik…, passim.

40. Józef Pi?sudski (1867-1935) was a Polish statesman, the founder of Polish armed forces during the Great War and a field marshal. He is assessed positively as a leader of the independence movement, yet criticized for coup d’état in 1926.

41. Andrzej Stawiarski, Kopiec Józefa Pi?sudskiego. Ponowne urodziny po 65 latach [The Pi?sudski Mound: A New Birthday After 65 Years], Gazeta Wyborcza Nov. 12, 2002.

42. The monument is a gigantic stone sculpture of six figures in mourning, cut by a great horizontal gash at lapel level. Young writes that “this memorial motif appears to descend directly from ancient Jewish funerary images.” Young, Texture…, 189.

43. Mieczys?aw Czuma and Leszek Mazan, P?pek ?wiata nazywa si? Kraków [The Hub of the Universe is Called Kraków] (Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza Anabasis, 2000), 300.

44. On Pope monuments :

45. Zbigiew Chojnacki, Wspomnienia [Memoirs], see: (web page of the charity association Arcybractwo Mi?osierdzia); debate in local newspapers: Gazeta Wyborcza, Tygodnik Powszechny, Gazeta Krakowska, and web pages of the SARP (The Association of Polish Architects).

46. Dyskusja wokó? koncepcji przebudowy placu Bohatorów Getta [A Discussion On the Concept of Reshaping the Square of the Ghetto’s Heroes], Gazeta w Krakowie Jan. 29, 2004; Spór o inskrypcj? na pomniku ofiar rzezi wo?y?skiej [An Argument About the Inscription on the Monument to the Victims of the Wo?y? Slaughter], Gazeta w Krakowie Feb. 13, 2004; Upami?tniony mord na Ormianach [Remembering the Murder of the Armenians], Gazeta w Krakowie April 18, 2004. The killings of Poles in Wo?y? took place during the Second World War, the number of victims is still discussed. During the final years of the Ottoman Empire, a great number of Armenians (1-1.5 millions) in eastern Anatolia were killed in a series of events, recognized by some countries as the first genocide of the 20th c.

47. Konieczna debata o Alei Królów [A Necessary Debate About the Avenue of Kings], Gazeta w Krakowie Feb. 9, 2004; Lipowy czarodziej [The Lime Wizard], Gazeta w Krakowie Oct. 31, 1998; Piotr Skrzynecki (1930-1997) was an artist, a founder of an alternative and independent theater in Kraków, the famous Celler under a Ram.

48. The Polish-Lithuanian Union, called the Union of Lublin, was signed in Lublin in 1569, uniting the Kingdom of Poland and the Great Duchy of Lithuania into a single state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (with a common monarch, senate and diet).

49. The Constitution of May Third, 1791, was the first European codified national constitution, and the second after the constitution of the United States. It introduced several reforms which aimed at strengthening of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, yet it provoked neighbouring states which agreed on the second Partition. Inspite of this, it remained a symbol of the reformatory movement and democratic changes.

50. See footnote 5.

51. Interviews with Zbigniew N. and Cyprian S.

52. Boles?aw Bierut was first secretary of the ruling communist party from 1948 until his death in 1956, President of Poland between 1947 and 1952 when the office of president was abolished, and Prime Minister until 1954.

53. Main, National… The July Manifesto was proclaimed on July 22, 1944, by the Polish Committee of National Liberation, it announced the program of a group of communists supported by Moscow.

54. This simple monument consists of a solid lump (as an artistic reference to ancient Jewish funerary images), seven holes and steps leading to it, and texts similar to those on Jewish tombs inscribed in both Polish and Hebrew on both sides of the steps. See Zbigniew Strza?kowski, Pomnik Ofiar Getta [The Monument to the Ghetto Victims], Sztandar Ludu 31 (1971), 4; Leszek Siemion, Pomniki walki i m?cze?stwa na Lubelszczy?nie [Monuments of Struggle and Martyrdom in the Lublin Region], Kalendarz Lubelski 13 (1970), 146; Sztandar Ludu Nov. 1963. Information thanks to Kazimierz O?óg who wrote his MA thesis on the artistic aspects of Lublin monuments. Kazimierz O?óg, Cz?owiek w pomnikach lubelskich 1944-2001 [Man in Lublin’s Monuments], MA, The Catholic University of Lublin, 2002.

55. Matka Sybiraczka na cokole [A Siberian Mother on a Plinth], Gazeta w Lublinie Sep. 13, 2000; Katarzyna Lewandowska, Krzy? katy?ski [Katy? Cross], Gazeta w Lublinie, Oct. 13, 1999.

56. Agnieszka Dybek, Dzwon Europy przed ratuszem [The Bell of Europe in Front of the Town Hall], Gazeta w Lublinie April 20, 2004; Od Unii Lubelskiej do Unii Europejskiej. Scenariusz [From the Lublin Union to the European Union: A Scenario], on:

57. Tomasz Potkaj, Mit Gierka: troch? kulawa Arkadia [The Myth of Gierek: A Lame Arcadia], Tygodnik Powszechny July 28, 2002. Edward Gierek (1913-2001) was a province Party secretary in Katowice (1957-1970) and a first Party secretary between 1970 and 1980. He promised economic reform and, with the aid of foreign loans, instituted a program to modernize industry and increase the availability of consumer goods; the standard of living increased markedly and for a time he was hailed a miracle-worker yet a crisis occurred already in 1973 and again in 1976.

58. Molik, Pozna?skie…, 35-36.

59. Ro?ek, Przewodnik…, passim.

60. See José M. Faraldo, The Teutonic Knights and the Polish Identity. National narratives, self-image and socialist public sphere, in: Sphären von Öffentlichkeit in Gesellschaften sowjetischen Typs, edited by Gabor T. Rittersporn, Jan C. Behrends and Malte Rolf (Frankfurt am Main-New York: Peter Lange, 2003), 279-306.

61. Piotr Boro?, Pomnik grunwaldzki, see

62. Krzysztof Rzepa, Pomnik Powsta?ców Wielkopolskich w Poznaniu [The Monument to the Wielkopolska Insurgents in Pozna?], in: Pomniki, 152-165.

63. Jan Kubik, The Power of Symbols Against the Symbols of Power: The Rise of Solidarity and the Fall of State Socialism in Poland (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), 214-216; Eugenia Renia Dabertowa and Marek Lenartowski, Pomnik Pozna?skiego Czerwca 1956. Symbol pami?ci i sprzeciwu [Monument of Pozna? June 1956: A Symbol of Memory and Opposition] (Pozna?: KZ NZSS “Solidarno??” Pozna?, 1996), 47-50; Main, National…, passim.

64. July 22 nd was the anniversary of the proclamation of the July Manifesto.

65. The SLD is considered the successor to the PZPR.

66. Mieczys?aw Kurz?tkowski, Plac Litewski w Lublinie [Lithuanian Square in Lublin], Spotkania z zabytkami 6 (1990), 17-20.

67. Main, National…, passim.

68. Karolina Grodzka, Obyczaj dnia zadusznego [The Custom of All Saints’ Day], Gazeta w Krakowie Oct 21, 1998.

69. Andrzej Romanowski, Mickiewicz, PRL i my [Mickiewicz, the PRL, and Us], Tygodnik Powszechny Jan. 10, 1999.

70. See Dorota Gut, Nowa Huta w ?wiadomo?ci jej mieszka?ców [Nowa Huta in the Awareness of its Inhabitants], in: Kraków. Przestrzenie kulturowe [Kraków: Cultural Spaces], edited by Jan Bujak (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Platon, 1993) 123-126; Main, National…, passim.

71. Robert Ostaszewski, Stolica kulturalna [Cultural Capital], FA-Art 65 (Sept. 2003).

72. Rafa? Panas, Grzegorz Praczyk, Kamienica zamiast pomnika Wieniawskiego [A House Instead of the Wieniawski Monument], Gazeta w Lublinie May 31, 2004. Henryk Wieniawski was a composer and musician, born in Lublin in 1835.

73. The Institute of East-Central Europe in Lublin organizes scholarly cooperation between Polish and Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Russian, Lithuanian, and Latvian historians, sociologists, and philologists. The European College of Polish and Ukrainian

74. E.g., essays by Andrzej Garlicki, Jerzy Holzer, Janusz Tazbir, Andrzej Paczkowski in Gazeta Wyborcza.

75. Latem Nowa Huta znajdzie si? w rejestrze zabytków [In Summer Nowa Huta Will be Registered as an Historic Site], Gazeta w Krakowie March 4, 2004; Wycieczki po Nowej Hucie ju? od lipca [Touring Nowa Huta Since July], Gazeta w Krakowie June 16, 2004.

76. Renata Rad?owska, Obchody ?wi?ta miasta Krakowa g?ównie w Nowej Hucie [The Celebrations of the Kraków Day Are Mainly in Nowa Huta], Gazeta w Krakowie May 28, 2004.

77. The Centre published several books on the heritage and architecture of Kraków; e.g., Managing Historic Cities, edited by Magda Bogdani-Czepita (Kraków: International Cultural Centre, 1993); Zdzislaw Mach, Politics, Culture and Identity of the Polish People After 1989, in: From the World of Borders to the World of Horizons, edited by Jacek Purchla (Kraków: International Cultural Centre, 2001).

78. Zamek cesarski w Poznaniu/Kaiserschloss Posen. Od pruskiej “warowni na wschodzie” do Centrum Kultury “Zamek”/Von der “Zwingburg im Osten” zum Kulturzentrum “Zamek” (Potsdam – Pozna?: Stiftung Preussische Schloesser und Gaerten Berlin Brandenburg, CK Zamek w Poznaniu, 2003).

79. Trakt królewsko-cesarski, nowy pomys? na promocj? miasta [A Royal-Imperial Route: A New Way of Promoting the City], Gazeta w Poznaniu May 30, 2004.

Inquiries into Past and PresentIWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XVII/3
© 2005 by the author
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Preferred citation: Main, Izabella. 2005. Memory and History in the Cityscapes in Poland: The Search for Meaning. In Inquiries into Past and Present, ed. D. Gard, I. Main, M. Oliver and J. Wood, Vienna: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. 17.