Since the beginning of historiography with greater ambitions, the relations between alive memory and the historian’s view of history have posed a grave problem. However, in our global societies and burning massive memory conflicts the issue has grown in importance, obviously not only in the civilisational context. Contemporary history (German Zeitgeschichte) has gained a secure position in scientific historiography in the last decades. Especially in Europe after the war of 1939-1945, favourable conditions were created by a fierce fight for memory, by huge historical forgeries and by an instrumental approach of political and ideological forces to memory and history. That is why significance is attached to the movements, people and schools undertaking great inter-generational effort for an objective view of history. In this essay an attempt is made to present a great role of French historians, R. Rémond and F. Bédarida, in the research of contemporary history. Their significance became visible during a European conference organized by them in 1993. As a result, a new field of scientific historiography with its huge comparative ambitions was made public and strengthened in numerous countries. It is worth mentioning that an American (Anglo-Saxon) research movement called “Oral History” developed independently of the changes on the European continent. A great alive academic discussion on the relations between historical memory and scientific historiography is connected with contemporary history, particularly in the European Union and the whole of Europe. In contemporary history in particular, there are still considerable differences in historical memory of nations and historical visions. That is why the development of serious academic research on a larger scale than previously is a highly important and necessary task. Unfortunately, one might assume that further history of the European Union and the whole continent depends to a great extent on the refinement and wide acceptance of elements of common memory, common vision of the past and thus the future by all the citizens of the Union and Europe.
The text is the first non-Communist Polish Prime Minister’s very personal refection on the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland after the country regained full independence. Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski has been presented here as a devoted patriot, a real European and a competent statesman. The speech shows the complexity of his ministerial activities he dealt with in a manner deserving his compatriots’ real gratitude. The text of course is of a personal character.
Krzysztof Skubiszewski – nominated Minister of Foreign Affairs in September 1989 – was a distinguished professor of international law, appreciated in his country and abroad. Having studied and later taught in several European countries and in the United States, he knew the international scene and perfectly mastered several foreign languages. Moreover, he was a fierce Polish patriot of firm convictions and great personal courage, well prepared for meeting the unprecedented challenges, inherent in a political situation fraught with uncertainty, risks and threats – both at home and in the international environment. Skubiszewski had to conduct the foreign policy of a country weakened and downgraded by more than forty years of communist dictatorship. Yet, thanks to his natural personal authority, intellectual distinction, loyal attitude towards his foreign partners, patient and skilful diplomacy, he rapidly gained esteem and confidence of European and American statesmen and politicians. Thus, he was able to attain – or played a major part in attaining – several goals of vital importance to his country: definitive recognition of the Oder-Neisse frontier by united Germany and normalization of Polish-German relations; extraction of Poland from the complex network of Soviet hegemony; “double-track” relations with Eastern Europe; dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and COMECON; creation of the Visehrad and Weimar Triangles; concordat with the Holy See; treaties of friendship and cooperation with most European states; agreement on Poland’s association with the European Community; initiation of policies leading to Poland’s membership in both the Community and NATO.
The article deals with the questions concerning the activity of two academic centres in Lublin: the Association of the Institute of East Central Europe, established in 1991, and the Institute of East Central Europe, existing since 2002. The analysis concentrates on the most important publications of both the institutes as well as the intellectual achievements related to organized conferences, always of an international character. Both the centres popularize the themes connected with the concept of East Central Europe but also with the heritage of the Commonwealth of Many Nations. The achievements of the Association of the Institute of East Central Europe and the Institute of East Central Europe bring the organization of the knowledge to date and, what is more, they create a completely new discourse on East Central Europe, its culture and the nations creating it.
The volume O Niemcach i Polakach. Wspomnienia. Prognozy. Nadzieje (About Germans and Poles. Recollections. Prognoses. Hopes) consists of three parts. The autobiographical part is a personal commentary by Władysław Bartoszewski on the history of German-Polish relations during the last 70 years. Jan Rydel and Rafał Rogulski complemented Bartoszewski’s account with two additional parts: The Przewodnik po historii Niemiec i stosunków polsko-niemieckich po drugiej wojnie światowej (Guide to the History of Germany and of German-Polish Relations after World War II) as well as an appendix, which encloses a selection of documents – cornerstones of German-Polish relations. The book’s uniqueness bears on this trilogy of narrations, temperaments and perspectives. It might become an interesting challenge for university teachers and students of history, political sciences and international relations, as a similar comprisal of German-Polish relations cannot be found in either Polish or German literature. The comments can be read as a further development of Władysław Bartoszewski’s memoirs, one can make use of them when analysing documents, or even treat them as a mini-synthesis of knowledge on Germany and German-Polish relations.
The article presents the periodical “Salve”, published by Czech Dominicans in Prague. Despite a relatively limited – especially for historical reasons – religious role of the Catholic Church in the contemporary Czech state, “Salve” plays a significant part in the Czech social and cultural life and is an opinion-forming magazine. The periodical gathers substantial intellectuals (not only from the Czech Republic), the centre of this environment being the Archbishop of Prague and the Czech Primate Dominik Duka OP. “Salve” is a creation of the values which for over eight centuries have characterized the Dominican spirituality, engaged in building the world based both on humanistic values and the faith. The appendix to the work contains an article by Peter Příhoda, entitled The Czechs and the Poles, Their Faith, Piety and Mutual Relations, published previously in “Salve”.
In this sketch the author refers to the work published ten years ago, entitled A History of East Central Europe (vol. 1-2, ed. by J. Kłoczowski, Lublin 2000) and undertakes a polemics with the book from the perspective of a researcher of the history of Lithuania and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The basic drawback of the synthesis is the lack of consideration for Lithuanian historiography in such fundamental problems as: creating the national Lithuanian identity among people of Baltic origin and the awareness of belonging to the Grand Duchy as a common state among the population of Ruthenian origin. Therefore, relying on older historiography leads to erroneous conclusions, particularly as for the genesis of the effects of the Union of Lublin, as seen only from the Polish perspective. However, as the author notices, the research effort of a new generation of both Lithuanian and Polish historians results in new interpretations of the mutual past, taking into consideration all its aspects.
Scuola storica italo-polacca di Roma (1983-1996) was established on the initiative of Italian and Polish scholars. Thanks to the school, several young Polish academics could have a chance of carrying out the research in Italy in the period when in Poland the possibility of going abroad was strictly limited.
Professor Gabriele De Rosa – a distinguished Italian historian and political activist. Related to the Italian People’s Party of a Christian Democratic character, created by Luigi Sturzo. In 1979-2006 Gabriele De Rosa was the President of the Luigi Sturzo Institute. He had responsible parliamentary positions as well as being an active historian: he gave lectures at the universities of Padua, Salerno and Rome. Author and editor of numerous publications. Connected with Poland. In the article he is also remembered as the co-creator, together with Jerzy Kłoczowski and Girolamo Arnaldi, of a Polish-Italian school in Rome, enabling young Polish academics to carry out research in Italy in the 1980s and 1990s.