End of Year Conversation

Excerpt from the article:

“It makes no difference to me if they burn the effigy of a Jew, or attack a gay person, or beat someone up for looking like a Muslim (even though they turn out to be Hindu or Cuban). It doesn’t really matter who gets hurt. What matters is that someone does get hurt,” says Aleksander Gleichgewicht, the chairman of the Jewish Community in Wrocław and former Solidarity activist.

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On historical revisionism

Aleksander Gleichgewicht: We were proud that we could talk about this difficult past openly in our country. We were proud that the Polish prosecutors and historians were revealing facts. We were proud it was history, and not courts, that was making judgments. And now it turns out all this work can simply be erased, and history can be easily distorted once again. It should be noted that nobody wanted to hold Poles collectively responsible. We just wanted to get all the skeletons out of the closet and bury them with respect for the sake of our own nation’s mental health. Many European countries have avoided discussions about how despicably their people behaved during the war, just to mention Austria or France, and our neighbors Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia. One cannot achieve maturity and stability without dealing with trauma. Lies will never liberate us from trauma. Only the truth can do that: the truth and the reconciliation that follows. And we Poles, we just want to be very proud of Chopin and Mickiewicz, and ignore all the dark moments of our history. It’s always other people who are the bad guys.

Michał Bojanowski: Maybe we’re just overrating the achievements of our regained freedom?

I also used to think it was just the beginning of the process. I thought our nation would keep growing and developing. I thought this process was unstoppable. However, it turned out to be very easy to not only stop but even to reverse. Law and Justice (PiS) had been in power before, albeit only for two years, but still, something started to fester from that point on.

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Translation: Aga Zano

Proofreading: Barbara Pendzich

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