cover image of The End of Worlds? Totalitarian Regimes and the End of Multicultural Communities in Eastern Europe project

    The End of Worlds?

    Totalitarian Regimes and the End of Multicultural Communities in Eastern Europe

    1 October 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.



    Prof. Marek Cichocki – political scientist, philosopher, an expert in Polish-German relations and European integration. Professor at Collegium Civitas. From 1998 to 2015 lecture at Warsaw University. Author of books and numerous publications on international relations, history of political thought, history of Europe. Editor-in-chief of "Nowa Europa. Przegląd Natoliński" (New Europe. Natolin Review) and the co-founder of "Teologia Polityczna" (Political Theology) yearly. In 2007 Polish negotiator of the European Union Lisbon Treaty.

    Dr. Gerhard Gnauck – since 2018 Gnauck has been the political correspondent of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" in Warsaw for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. His most recent publication is "Understanding Poland. History, Politics and Society". Previously he had been an editor with "Die Welt" in Warsaw, from where he covered, among other topics and areas, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. As a freelance author, he published in "Neue Zürcher Zeitung". Mr. Gnauck was awarded the Maciej-Płażyński Prize (category "Foreign Journalist") in 2018 for his reports on Poland.

    Prof. Ewa Thompson – Research Professor of Slavic Studies and former Chairperson of the Department of German and Slavic Studies at Rice University. She has taught at Rice, Indiana, Vanderbilt, and the University of Virginia, and has lectured at Princeton, Witwatersrand (South Africa), Toronto (Canada), and Bremen (Germany). She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Warsaw and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University. She is the author of five books (among them Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism), about fifty scholarly articles, and hundreds of other articles and reviews. Her books and articles have been translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Belarussian, Russian, Italian, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, and Chinese.


    Hanna Radziejowska – Head of the Pilecki Institute in Berlin, coordinator, curator, producer, and scriptwriter of cultural and museum projects. Together with Jack Fairweather, she has curated the exhibition "Der Freiwillige. Witold Pilecki und die Unterwanderung von Auschwitz" which has been awarded the "Historical Event of the Year 2019" prize for the best exhibition and is located at the Pilecki Institute in Berlin. In 2019 she was awarded for the exhibition "Houses of Glass" by the President of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski in the category "Best Event on Architecture".

    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



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