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Durham University

Research & business

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Mr Maksymilian Loth-hill

Member of the Department of History

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The Poland that emerged in the aftermath of the Yalta conference in 1945 was a ‘new’ state; it had new borders, new politics and – unlike pre-war Poland – it was almost entirely ethnically homogeneous. For Poland’s new communist rulers, the nation’s past had to fit the present, and my research examines how that was realised by focusing on national, regional and local historical museums, along with their exhibitions and public engagement. My work considers the problematic nature of creating a holistic narrative for a state that was radically different to its pre-war incarnation, and also explores the relationship between a centrally-imposed national narrative and the particularities of regional experiences of the past. In particular, my research looks at post-war Poland’s new western territories ‘reclaimed’ from Germany, where different heritage and cultures created different histories which sat at odds with officially approved notions of the past. I also seek to map out the evolution of historical narratives throughout the communist period, relating them to the wider Cold War context and developments in Polish politics, as well as exploring the continued articulation of certain communist-era historical tropes in post-communist Poland.

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