Domesticating the Difficult Past: Polish Students Narrate the Second World War

Chapter

Abstract

A narrative analysis of 53 high school student essays demonstrated that Polish youth still hold deeply ethno-national narratives of World War II. This group wrote about ruin, resistance, and victimization, impervious to the influence of a decade of media and international attention to Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. In general, they tamed and domesticated the World War II past. A subset of responses demonstrated that knowledge of the Holocaust and the Jewish-Polish experience during World War II is present in the form of a budding counter-narrative, or an interpretation that goes against what is commonly believed in Polish society. The implications from this chapter are that school may be one of the most important sources for children to receive new and critical information about a nation’s past.

Keywords

Jews Holocaust Poland Student narratives Holocaust education World War II 

References

  1. Bikont, A. (2004). My z Jedwabnego [Us, from Jedwabne]. Warsaw: Proszynski i S-ka.Google Scholar
  2. Bromley, P., & Russell, S. G. (2010). The Holocaust as history and human rights: a cross-national analysis of Holocaust education in social science textbooks, 1970–2008. Prospects, 40(1), 153–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Davies, N. (1982). God’s playground, a history of Poland: The origins to 1795 (Vol. 1). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Deák, I., Gross, J. T., & Judt, T. (2000). The politics of retribution in Europe: World War II and its aftermath. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Engelking, B. (2012). Jest taki piekny sloneczny dzien. Losy Zydow szukajacych ratunku na wsi polskiej, 1942–1945 [It is a beautiful, sunny day. Losses of Jews searching for salvation in the Polish countryside, 1942–1945]. Warsaw: Stowarzyszenie Centrum Badan nad Zaglada Zydow.Google Scholar
  7. Epstein, T. (1998). Deconstructing differences in African-American and European-American adolescents’ perspectives on US history. Curriculum Inquiry, 28(4), 397–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. FRA [European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights] (2009). Excursion to the past: Teaching for the future. Handbook for teachers. Vienna: FRA. http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2010/excursion-past-teaching-future-handbook-teachers
  9. Garton Ash, T. (1989). The uses of adversity: Essays on the fate of Central Europe. New York: Penguin Books/Granta.Google Scholar
  10. Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory (Vol. 2). Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.Google Scholar
  11. Grabowski, J. (2011). Judenjagd. Polowanie na Zydow, 1942–1945 [Judenjagd: Hunting for Jews, 1942–1945]. Warsaw: Stowarzyszenie Centrum Badan nad Zaglada Zydow.Google Scholar
  12. Gross, J. T. (2001). Neighbors: The destruction of the Jewish community in Jedwabne, Poland. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gross, M. (2010). Rewriting the nation: World War II narratives in Polish history textbooks. International Perspectives on Education and Society, 14, 213–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gross, J. T., & Grudzinska-Gross, I. G. (2012). Golden harvest: Events at the periphery of the Holocaust. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hobsbawm, E. J. (1994). The age of extremes: A history of the world, 1914–1991. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  16. Judt, T. (2005). Postwar: A history of Europe since 1945. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kulish, N. (2013, 18 April). Polish museum repairs tie to a Jewish past. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/world/europe/poland-reconnects-to-jewish-past-with-museum.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  18. Levy, D., & Sznaider, N. (2006). The Holocaust and memory in the global age. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Merriam, S. B. (2002). Introduction to qualitative research. In S. B. Merriam et al. (Eds.), Qualitative research in practice: Examples for discussion and analysis (pp. 3–17). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  20. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  21. Porat, D. A. (2004). It’s not written here, but this is what happened: Students’ cultural comprehension of textbook narratives on the Israeli-Arab conflict. American Educational Research Journal, 41(4), 963–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Renan, E. (1882, 11 March). What is a nation? Lecture given at the Sorbonne, Paris.Google Scholar
  23. Riessman, C. K. (Ed.) (1993). Narrative analysis. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Seixas, P. (1997). Mapping the terrain of historical significance. Social Education, 61(1), 22–27.Google Scholar
  25. Sontag, S. (2003). Regarding the pain of others. New York: Farrar, Strauss Giroux.Google Scholar
  26. Steinlauf, M. C. (1997). Bondage to the dead: Poland and the memory of the Holocaust. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded theory methodology: An overview. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 273–285). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Weiner, A. (2001). Making sense of war: The Second World War and the fate of the Bolshevik revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Wertsch, J. V. (2002). Voices of collective remembering. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wineburg, S., Mosborg, S., Porat, D., & Duncan, A. (2007). Common belief and the cultural curriculum: An intergenerational study of historical consciousness. American Educational Research Journal, 44(1), 40–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Young, J. E. (1993). The texture of memory: Holocaust memorials and meaning. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Zerubavel, Y. (1997). Recovered roots: Collective memory and the making of Israeli national tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Zubrzycki, G. (2006). The crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and religion in post-Communist Poland. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Writing and RhetoricStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations