Memory Wars: The Polish-Ukrainian Battle about History

On 06 February 2018 the President of Poland signed a scandalous bill – an Amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance – which introduces criminal responsibility (up to three years of imprisonment) for the denial of crimes committed by the Ukrainian nationalists in 1943-5, including the Volyn genocide. This bill has been approved despite the officially expressed Ukrainian ‘concern regarding the attempts to portray Ukrainians exclusively as “criminal nationalists” and “collaborators of the Third Reich”’ and call not to incite the conflict ‘between traditionally friendly Ukrainian and Polish peoples’ These events show that the conflict between Ukraine and Poland over the interpretation of controversial historical events of World War II is going deeper. Moreover, it has reached a point to be classified as ‘memory war’.

The recent political initiatives from the both sides have destroyed the first achievements of the Ukrainian-Polish dialogue on mutual repentance, forgiveness and commemoration of the innocent victims killed during the conflict in 1940s: Ukrainians and Poles. The quest for reconciliation has been reflected in a number of joint statements: by the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland ‘On Concorde and Reconciliation’ on May 21, 1997; by the Parliaments of Ukraine and Poland on the 60th Anniversary of the Volyn Tragedy on July 10, 2003; by the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland ‘On Reconciliation on the 60th Anniversary of the Volyn Tragedy’ on July 11, 2003; by the Greek-Catholic bishops of Ukraine and Roman-Catholic bishops of Poland on the Act of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation on June 2005; by the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Wisla event on April 27, 2007; by the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the Roman-Catholic Church on the 70th anniversary of the Volyn crime on June 28, 2013.

In April 2015, Ukraine adopted the so-called decommunisation package ...

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