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Recalling Katyń: Poland, Russia, and the Interstate Politics of History
Recalling Katyń: Poland, Russia, and the Interstate Politics of History

Author(s): George Soroka
Subject(s): Military history, Political history, International relations/trade, Comparative politics, Studies in violence and power, WW II and following years (1940 - 1949), Post-War period (1950 - 1989), Transformation Period (1990 - 2010), Present Times (2010 - today), Inter-Ethnic Relations, Politics of History/Memory, Peace and Conflict Studies
Published by: SAGE Publications Ltd
Keywords: Poland; Russia; Ukraine; politics of history; Katyń; Volhynia;

Summary/Abstract: This article explores the role played by the 1940 Katyń massacre in structuring foreign relations between post-communist Poland and Russia. In so doing, it offers a theoretical model through which to understand the combative politics over history that have burgeoned in Eastern and Central Europe after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Tracing how political discourse over the massacre has evolved from the late 1980s to the present, it examines the impact of exogenous influences and changing geopolitical realities on how this event is recalled within these two states, which exhibit markedly different relationships to their shared past. Questions of regime type, relative standing within the region, and how—as well as by whom—interstate discourse over contentious historical events is initiated are all central to the model of dispute origination developed herein, as is the presence of various institutional factors, chief among them membership in the supranational European Union (EU). A shadow study of Polish–Ukrainian relations concerning history, focusing on the mass killing of ethnic Poles that took place in Volhynia and eastern Galicia in the period 1943–1945, is also undertaken in order to illuminate the significant differences in how the past has been politically activated in relations between the respective post-Soviet dyads of Poland–Russia and Poland–Ukraine.

  • Issue Year: 36/2022
  • Issue No: 01
  • Page Range: 328-355
  • Page Count: 28
  • Language: English