The End of Worlds?

    Totalitarian Regimes and the End of Multicultural Communities in Eastern Europe

    24 September 2020, 6 pm, online debate

    The Red Army’s onslaught on eastern territories of the Second Polish Republic on 17 September 1939, which followed the invasion from the west by the Third Reich on September 1, forms one of the key events in the 20th-century history of Europe. This date marks a symbolic closure of the experience of Polish cultural and political presence in Europe’s eastern territories that had existed for several centuries. The debate will concern the identity of the former Polish eastern domains as well as contemporary understanding of the Borderlands (Kresy in Polish) and Eastern Galicia as expressions of political and multicultural heritage, both Polish and Austro-Hungarian. We wish to focus not so much on direct political and military repercussions of the attack on the Second Polish Republic by the Third Reich and the Soviet Union in September 1939, but primarily on its long-term cultural effects. To what extent did the rule of these two totalitarian systems mark the end of the multiculturalism of the Second Polish Republic, a legacy of the old (pre-Partitions) Commonwealth as well as multi-ethnic traditions and cultures of the 'long 19th century' with their entangled Lithuanian, Belarussian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian influences? The discussion will cover the fates of multicultural communities living in these regions before the Second World War, as well as intellectual constructions of “Kresy”, “Galicia” and “Borderlands”, cultural interpretations of this region, and the ‘end of multicultural worlds’ symbolically hidden behind the dates of 1 and 17 September 1939.





    Hanna Radziejowska, Director of the Pilecki Institute in Berlin

    Organizers: Pilecki Institute, European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, Centre for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin

    Partners: Federal Institute for History and Culture of the Germans in Eastern Europe, Oldenburg, Lithuanian Institute of History

    Register here


    The debate takes place within the series of three debates entitled ‘When Did the Second World War Begin and When Did It End? In the Maze of European Politics and Culture of Memory’

    See the whole series programme