Polish conservative government wins control of Gdańsk war museum

Polish conservative government wins control of Gdańsk war museum
(Image: Muzeum II Wojny Światowej / Facebook)

25 January 2017

Poland's government has won a court ruling allowing it to take control of the new Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, sparking concern that the governing conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) will adapt the museum to suit its own aims.

The independent museum, which was due to have its official opening by the end of February, places the war in its broader international context, rather than presenting a narrower Polish perspective. Polish Culture Minister Piotr Gliński, however, has criticised the museum for not focusing enough on the Polish experience of the war.

As a result of Tuesday's ruling, the museum — featuring a $12.3 million permanent exhibition, which took eight years to collect — is set to be merged with an as yet unbuilt museum on 1 February. Once the decision comes into force, Mr Gliński will be able to nominate his own director for the museum, who will have the authority to change the museum's exhibition to fit the needs of the government.

The government's plans have drawn sharp criticism, including among prominent historians, with 400 people participating in a presentation against the proposals at the museum on Monday.

Historian Timothy Snyder has criticised the government's plans to alter what he dubs “perhaps the most ambitious museum devoted to World War Two in any country”.

This is not the first scandal to hit the Polish government since the conservative government took power in 2015. In January 2016, President Andrzej Duda signed into law a controversial new media bill that saw the government tightening its control on state media, while plans to restrict press access to parliament sparked protests in December 2016.

Source: BBC News