2010 | 75 | 2 | 7-21
Article title

Litewski Žalgiris, polski Grunwald: dwa toposy narodowe w kontekście analizy porównawczej

Title variants
Lithuanian Žalgiris, Polish Grunwald: two national toposes in the context of comparative analysis
Languages of publication
The article deals with the images of the Žalgiris battle in Lithuanian and Polish societies and their place in the cultures of memory in those countries. Considering the centuries old tradition of this event, the problem is analyzed historically, focusing on the epoch of nationalism and the images of this event created in this period. Discussing the image change of the Žalgiris battle in Lithuanian society, several periods can be identified: the memory about this battle just after this event and acquisition of some finite forms in the middle of the 16th century; the second half of the 16th century – the beginning of the 20th century; the interwar period in Lithuania; the Soviet time and narrative transformation after 1990. It should be noted that the theme of Žalgiris was relevant to Lithuanians in order to highlight the differences between Poles and Lithuanians (the first half of the 16th century – the first half of the 20th century), in order to move closer to Poles (from the end of the 16th century until the beginning of the nationalism era and after the 1990’s), and only once in the Soviet period, this theme was used as a weapon against the imperialist West. Like in Lithuania, in Poland the Grunwald theme has also survived several periods. The theme has become particularly important in the last hundred years, which was associated with the demands of the creation of the Polish identity. In this article the author analyzes the differences in the content of Žalgiris and Grunwald narratives in Lithuania and Poland. Žalgiris and Grunwald are compared as Lithuanian and Polish national myths and also as integral parts of cultures of memory and remembrance. Similar feature of Žalgiris and Grunwald can be noticed – they can both be defined as national myths. However, unlike in Poland, where Grunwald became the national myth at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, in Lithuanian society Žalgiris gained greater importance only in the Soviet period. It is also noteworthy to underline the different structure of the Žalgiris and Grunwald national toposes. Žalgiris did not play an independent role in the interwar period and it was one of the parts of the national Vytautas myth in Lithuania. Grunwald at the beginning of the 20th century had the features of the national myth, however during the interwar period the Grunwald rose in importance in comparison with the Žalgiris theme – it became, among other events in the history of Poland, an integral part of Pilsudski‘s national myth. During World War II Žalgiris and Grunwald were instrumentalized by communists in order to motivate those two nations to struggle against Hitler’s Germany. Later they were used to legitimate the postwar regime in Europe. It should be noted that despite some differences in content and themes used by the Communist ideology, both Žalgiris and Grunwald were popular in the Lithuanian and Polish opposition or semi-opposition milieu. Consequently, in this context the influence of the culture of remembrance or previous Žalgiris and Grunwald traditions for the Lithuanian and Polish societies can be noticed. Although Žalgiris and Grunwald in Lithuania and Poland are judged differently, they continue to be a part of culture of remembrance in Lithuania and Poland.
Physical description
  • Lietuvos istorijos institutas Vilnius (Litwa)
  • Lietuvos istorijos institutas Vilnius (Litwa)
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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