Polish Cultural Heritage during and after World War II in Historiography
Languages of publication
Already in autumn 1939 departments of Polish government in exile started works aiming at cataloguing losses suffered in consequence of warfare and the occupants' policy (they were done by archivists, librarians, museum employees and art historians involved in the activity of Polish underground state). The total summary of the enormity of plunder and losses inflicted by the occupants of Poland in 1939-1944 in the scope of cultural property was made in London upon the request of Polish government in exile by the team of experts led by Karol Estreicher (1906-1984). This subject was also discussed by national magazines straight after the War. The intensification of research on the restitution of cultural property on a wider scale was initiated only after the October Crisis of 1956 when the vassal dependence on USSR slackened. Then postulates to return the archives, works of art and book collections that had been seized after 17th September, 1939 were put forward to Moscow. The restitution from other countries during the times of the People's Republic of Poland was only signaled in very few articles and minor contributions. Unable to deal freely with the issues of revindication with the PRL's neighbors, Polish historiography returned to research on the inter-war period and World War II. However, only after 12th September, 1989, when the III Republic of Poland was born and censorship was liquidated, it was possible to commence free research on the plunder of Polish archives, works of art and book collections during World War II and directly after it.
Publication order reference
CEJSH db identifier