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Books at War

The Diaries of Aleksander Czołowski and Józef Grycz, or the Battle of Lviv and the Warsaw Uprising from the Perspective of the Archive and the Library

Author(s): Jagoda Wierzejska
Subject(s): Studies of Literature, Polish Literature, Pre-WW I & WW I (1900 -1919), Interwar Period (1920 - 1939), WW II and following years (1940 - 1949), Post-War period (1950 - 1989), Transformation Period (1990 - 2010), Theory of Literature
Published by: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Keywords: book; thing; Polish-Ukrainian war; Warsaw Uprising; Aleksander Czołowski; Józef Grycz
Summary/Abstract: This article analyzes the wartime fate of two archival and library collections and two archivists/librarians who took care of these collections during the hostilities in two cities – Lviv and Warsaw. The analysis was based on diaristic documents: Aleksander Czołowski’s "Dziennik wypadków listopadowych" [Diary of November Events] and Józef Grycz’s "Dzienniczek z okresu powstania warszawskiego 1944 roku" [Diary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising]. The first diary describes the events that took place in Lviv during the Polish-Ukrainian war in 1918, especially Czołowski’s efforts to take care of the city’s archival collection. The second diary highlights the Warsaw Uprising struggles in 1944 and, above all, Grycz’s personal struggle to protect the collections of the National Library from destruction or robbery. Both diaries are interestingly profiled documents of their time. They present the battles of Lviv and Warsaw, respectively, from an unusual perspective: that of the institutions of science and culture, as well as the documents and books collected in those institutions, whose material dimension suddenly became fundamental (because fundamentally endangered). In this way, both diaries make us aware that wars, especially those fought in urban areas, are both tragedies of people and hecatomb of things, including books. At certain points both diaries also shed untypical light on events integrated in the dominant Polish discourse and rarely narrated in a way that deviates from it.

  • Page Range: 163-188
  • Page Count: 26
  • Publication Year: 2022
  • Language: Polish