Poland - Guidelines

Authors: Biały-Ciszek Beata, Bilan Maciej, Grodzka Daria, Grochal Lucyna, Kunysz Magdalena, Pszczoła Marta, Stinia Mariusz, Wesołowska Halina, Wojtowicz-Dzień Irena, Zaufal Krystyna


We have divided our work into two parts. The first part shows what topics from the history of our close and distant neighbours are currently taught in Polish schools. The second part deals with the problems from the Polish history that are important to us - Poles and that we would like to make known to other European countries. When preparing the first part, we came across some difficulties that result from a multitude of history textbooks and syllabuses in Poland. Nevertheless, we tried to show only the primary topics and issues that appear in the history education process in Polish schools.

In the second part of our publication, we present selected issues from the history of Poland that Polish teachers consider to be important for the formation of historical identity of Poles and worth making known to Europeans. We are aware of the need to reduce factography and concentrate mainly on key problems. This is why, for the purposes of our work, we have adopted certain criteria for the selection of events: 1) what we would like to communicate about us to others, 2) what common issues we can find in the history of Europe, 3) what is important for the contemporary man, European and citizen. For these reasons, we propose a problem-oriented approach, even though the structure of our syllabuses and textbooks is chronological. We attach special importance to events and phenomena from the 20th century – we pay most attention to them, because they significantly affect the times in which we happen to live. The interpretation of historical facts is another matter. We understand that memories of the same event can be different in various countries and European regions. At the same time, we think that the incorporation of the Polish point of view would become an added value in the multi-perspective teaching of history. Therefore, we concentrate mainly on the factography that we consider useful for the common future and dialogue between European communities, following the rule that truth is the basis of dialogue rather than conflict.

We hope that we managed to balance political, economic and cultural aspects and point out universal values, such as freedom, equality, brotherhood and democracy, which are the heritage of European civilisation. Learning the history of Poland from the Polish perspective should help to broaden the knowledge of Europeans in this field and become the basis for a mutual understanding, including the understanding of human attitudes and behaviours in the past and nowadays. This may also become a cause for the elimination of historical stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings between Europeans. We hope that our work encourages readers to look at the history of Poland – the nation which has contributed to the European civilisation for more than ten centuries - also from the perspective of Polish citizens.

Part I. What history of Poland’s neighbours do we teach in Polish schools?

Neighbours of Poland over the centuries - Mariusz Stinia.

HUNGARY – appears in the context of dynastic relations: the Angevins as a Hungarian dynasty on the Polish throne; the Jagiellons as a Polish dynasty on the Hungarian throne. Modern epoch: the reign of Stephen Báthory. 19th century: the lack of sovereign political role of Hungary; the Spring of Nations; Austria-Hungary as a dual state. 20th century: the context of processes occurring in Central & Eastern Europe in the form of maps and tables. Special attention is paid to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

CZECH REPUBLIC – the origin of the Czech state and contacts of Poland with the Czech lands in the Middle Ages: the ethnogenesis of the Slavs; Great Moravia; the alliance with the state ruled by Mieszko I of Poland and the conflict concerning Silesia and Małopolska. Conflicts with Poland in the first half of the 11th century: the territorial development of Bolesław I Chrobry’s monarchy; the role of Saint Adalbert; the temporary annexation of the Czech lands and the long-term annexation of Moravia; the invasion of Poland by Bretislaus I. The last Přemyslids on the Polish throne: attempts to take over the Polish throne by the House of Luxembourg; Wenceslaus II and his reforms in Poland; the House of Luxembourg on the Czech throne and the loss of Silesia. Late period of the Middle Ages: the economic development of the Czech state, the university in Prague; Hussitism. Modern epoch: the Thirty Years’ War; the Spring of Nations in Europe and the Slavic Congress in Prague. World War I; the establishment of Czechoslovakia; the dispute with Poland concerning the Zaolzie region; the Munich conference; the Prague Spring; the peaceful disintegration of Czechoslovakia.

SLOVAKIA – a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, a part of Czechoslovakia; the Slovak State under Monsignor Jozef Tiso; the Prague Spring; the peaceful disintegration of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

GERMANY (including Austria until 1804 and monastic states) – the origin of Germany: the role of Charlemagne and his successors, the Treaty of Verdun. Selected aspects from the history of the German dynasty: Otto I, Otto III, Henry II, Henry V, Frederick Barbarossa. The investiture controversy between the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and the Pope Gregory VII. Common events from the history of Poland and Germany: wars and conflicts with the Germans during the reign of the Piast and Jagiellon dynasties: conflicts of Mieszko I with German marches, wars of Bolesław I Chrobry, wars of Bolesław III Krzywousty with the German emperor and conflicts of the last Piast and Jagiellonian rulers with the Teutonic Order; cultural and economic influences of Germany, including the colonisation of cities and villages according to the Magdeburg law, the Hanseatic League, Reformation, the role of Martin Luther, the Renaissance north of the Alps. The dynastic policy of the Jagiellons, the Habsburgs, the Hohenzollerns and the Wettins. Partitions of Poland: Polish lands annexed by Prussia and Austria. Cultural issues: Romanticism: J.W. Goethe, F. Schiller, the social thought of Marx, Engels and Nietzsche; the development of science (Freud, Koch) and economic processes: enfranchisement, industrialisation. Nazism; World War II; the Nazi occupation of Poland and other European countries; the Holocaust. The defeat of Germany and changes of borders by the decision of the “Great Three”: compulsory expulsions of Germans after 1945. The partitioning of Germany after World War II (the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall) and the uniting process in years 1989-90.

RUSSIA - Irena Wojtowicz – Dzień, Maciej Bilan.

DENMARK, FINLAND, ICELAND, NORWAY, SWEDEN - Daria Grodzka, Magdalena Kunysz.

BELARUS - Daria Grodzka, Magdalena Kunysz.

Belarus in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; Belarus as a Soviet republic; the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the declaration of sovereignty; the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

BALTIC STATES - Lucyna Grochal and Marta Pszczoła

Part II. What history of Poland do we want in history textbooks and syllabuses of European countries?

Defence of Europe against threats

Democratic traditions

Freedom traditions

On the way to united Europe

Cultural traditions