The inherent dissonance of heritage in contemporary Polish museums



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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 represent the bravery and courage that emerged during Europe’s darkest period. Despite both occurring in occupied Poland, the narratives have not both been universally accepted as part of the Polish collective memory, national identity, and heritage. In this thesis, I seek to analyze and understand how the narratives constructed by museums regarding the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising illustrate the inherent dissonance of heritage in contemporary Poland. The influence of political powers, the inability to confront the difficult reality of the past, the boundaries of Polish identity, and the manipulation of memory have led to the attempt to construct a single, linear narrative of heritage that does not reflect the diversity of memory and illustrates its dissonance. As the events of the Second World War and Polish-Jewish relations continue to evoke heated discussions, the narratives portrayed by two of Poland’s most prominent museums, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Rising Museum, may provide a deeper understanding of how memory is selected, identity is formed, and heritage is constructed in contemporary Poland, and how dissonance is inherently part of these narratives.