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The War that Never Ends

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

The story of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk epitomizes one of the most important and dramatic clashes in the European culture of memory and public history in last decades. The museum became the arch-enemy for the nationalist right-wing as “cosmopolitan”, “pseudo-universalistic”, “pacifistic” and “not Polish enough”.

Paweł Machcewicz, historian and museum`s founding director, was removed from his position by the Law and Justice government immediately after opening the museum to the public. In his book he presents this story as a part of cultural wars that tear apart not only Poland but also many countries in Europe and on other continents.

Author Information

Paweł Machcewicz, Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.


"The collapse of democracy, the museum’s first theme, could hardly be more salient than it is right now. And the presentation of the conflict as a global tragedy could hardly be more instructive ...  Unlike other museums devoted to history’s most devastating war, which tend to begin and end with national history, the Gdańsk museum has set out to show the perspectives of societies around the world, through a sprawling collection ... and through themes that bring seemingly disparate experiences together. It is hard to think of a more fitting place for such a museum than Poland, whose citizens experienced the worst of the war".

Timothy Snyder

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