The Warsaw Rising Museum: Polish Identity and Memory of World War II
Marta Kurkowska-Budzan
 

The Memory Place located on the second floor of the exhibition is a triangle of ruined walls with pictures of perished insurgents and civilian Varsovians and replicas of their modest, provisional graves. Here, overwhelmed by sounds of the virtual Rising and German bombardments, visitors find their moment of reflection and meditation.

A Catholic chapel consecrated in 2005 in the Warsaw Rising Museum building shows that for the Museum founders and its directors the idea of Polish identity is linked to Roman Catholicism.

Another commemorative figure is the 156 meter long Memory Wall in the Museum?s Freedom Park, which is adjacent to the building. The names of thousands of insurgents who died in the battle in August and September are engraved on the gray granite slabs. So far, more than 6,000 names have been added, and the list is continuously supplemented with new names from survivors or relatives. The list includes the names, surnames, pseudonyms and military rank of every insurgent. The names are verified against archive documents, lists from the Red Cross and other sources. The names are placed according to the so-called Dutch System, in numbered columns, in alphabetical order.

Since the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the House of Terror in Budapest had served as models to Warsaw museum, a similar oral history project could not have been neglected here as well. Some chosen from already gathered testimonies are presented on the exhibition in an attractive form of ?phone calls to the eyewitnesses.?

Educational activities of the Museum reach beyond its walls. Its website, apart from basic information, presents:

- ?Virtual Museum? ? online tour of the complete exhibition of the Museum, including images, documentaries, songs etc.

- ?Virtual History? ? day by day history of the Rising

- ?Oral History Archive? ? online collection of 200 interviews with the insurgents

- ?Virtual Wall of Memory?

- Photo archive

- Museum publications etc.[14]

Education, historical research and art activities are domains of Starzyński[15] Institute ? an institution affiliated to the Museum of Warsaw Rising.

 The Museum?s political orientation is quite apparent now, when intensive city council election campaign is going on. A former prime minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, a temporary commissioner in the Warsaw city administration is the Law and Justice Party candidate for Mayor of the capital. The Rising Museum cooperates extensively with the city administration organizing political debates in the Museum building and discussions about visions of Polish ?historical policy.? The 62nd anniversary of the Rising was an occasion to promote a conservative meaning of ?patriotism? (or nationalism) presented in a modern way, which is attractive to a wide audience.  The Museum participated in preparing historical reconstructions of the Rising? battles and hosted rock concerts ? tributes to the insurgents.

[14]http://www.1944.pl

[15]President of Warsaw, 1934 ? 1939; became the symbol of the defence of Warsaw in in 1939.

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