Exhibit on Polish History opens in LaFortune
Emily McConville | Tuesday, October 28, 2014
A traveling exhibit detailing the history of Poland from the beginning of World War II to the end of the Cold War and the country’s role in international affairs during the 20th century opened Monday in the Dooley Room of LaFortune Student Center with a public reception.
The display, “From War to Victory: 1939-1989,” showcases noteworthy events in Polish history, such as the 1939 German invasion that kicked off World War II, Polish resistance during the war and years later during Soviet occupation, the emergence of the Solidarity trade union in 1980 and the first democratic elections since the beginning of the Cold War. The exhibit tells its story through photos, quotations from Polish and other world leaders as well as explanations of events in both English and Polish.
The exhibit was created by the Institute for National Remembrance, a Warsaw-based organization which preserves Polish documents and provides education about 20th-century Polish history. The Polish Club of Notre Dame, which has previously sponsored Institute of National Remembrance displays, brought the exhibit to Notre Dame, senior Polish Club co-president Julia Banasikowski said.
Banasikowski said the exhibit emphasizes the Polish struggle for freedom and connects its history to its current status in the international community.
“This exhibit depicts crucial events in Poland’s history, and it shows what brought it to be such an influential part of Europe today,” she said. “For example, its former Prime Minister Donald Tusk was just chosen to be President of the European Council starting in December. Obviously, they are going to have a big leadership position, and they’re a key U.S. ally in talks about Ukrainian-Russian tension.
“They’re a very important part, not only for Europe, but also for the United States. So this will be an interesting exhibit not only for people of Polish descent, but historians, political science majors, anybody who is interested in Europe.”
Senior Arthur Laciak, the other co-president of Polish Club, said the exhibit was a way to teach Polish history to those who may know nothing about it.
“It shows Americans and people of different ethnicities the role Poland played in World War II and the post-war era, during the Cold War,” Laciak said. “I know a lot about Polish history and Polish politics because I grew up in a Polish family. I’ve shared stories with friends and other people, but a lot of this history is not known outside Polish families, so it’s great to spread the word and tell other people.”
Banasikowski said the exhibit helps the club educate the community about Polish history and culture.
“The Polish community is not all about just Polish sausage and Polish beer and polka dancing,” she said. “It’s also about history and culture, and a lot of people overlook that. There’s a misconception of that. That’s something that we really want, is to teach people about the importance of Polish history.”
The exhibit is open to the public and will be on display through Wednesday.