In the vast literature on how the Second World War has been remembered in Europe, research into what happened in communist Poland, a country most affected by the war, is surprisingly scarce. The long gestation of Polish narratives of heroism and sacrifice, explored in this book, might help to understand why the country still finds itself in a «mnemonic standoff» with Western Europe, which tends to favour imagining the war in a civil, post-Holocaust, human rights-oriented way. The specific focus of this book is the organized movement of war veterans and former prisoners of Nazi camps from the 1940s until the end of the 1960s, when the core narratives of war became well established.
Joanna Wawrzyniak is Deputy Director of the Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw, where she also heads the Social Memory Laboratory. She has published extensively on the relationship between history and memory in Poland, the uses of oral history, and the current state of memory studies in Central-Eastern Europe. Recently she was a visiting fellow at Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies and at Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena (Germany).