Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Poland's WWII museum opens amid an uncertain future

Published:Thursday | March 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
In this file photo taken in Gdansk, Poland, January 23, 2017, visitors look at an exhibit in the Museum of the Second World War, an ambitious new museum under creation for nine years, that opened its doors for one day to historians and reporters. It opened to visitors on yesterday, amid plans by the conservative government to change its content to fit its nationalist views. (AP)


A major World War II museum opened in northern Poland on Thursday amid plans by the conservative government to change its content to fit the government's nationalist views.

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk is at the centre of a standoff between the historians creating it and Poland's populist government, which is seeking a court order to have it closed and then wants to reshape its current multinational focus.

The museum was initiated in 2008 by then-Prime Minister Donald Tusk. But the current Law and Justice government, hostile to Tusk, wants to merge it with another museum and make it highlight Poland's military effort in fighting the German Nazis and the nation's own tragedy that, they believe, is not well enough known in the world.

The dispute between the museum and the Government is to be decided by a court in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Government has cut the museum's annual subsidy from the requested 20 million zlotys (US$5 million) to 11.5 million zlotys (US$2.9 million), director Pawel Machcewicz said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, he said the huge exhibition places Poland's war experience at the centre of Europe's and the world's war history. It says out of some 5.5 million Poles killed in the war, over five million were civilians.