Contribution of the Communist Pa

Contribution of the Communist Party of Poland,,

School is an institution that not only teaches but shapes opinions and political points of view of the youth. History not only gives informations about the past and analyse happenings and historic personalities but also creates opinions also about the present world. Modern history is an especially delicate issue. That is why educational programmes for teaching history were among first that were changed after 1989. It was subordinated to main aim so called patriotic upbringing of the youth, meaning glorification of certain personalities and condemning everything what was connected with communist and workers movement.

Selective teaching of the history of the Second World War takes shape of omitting some subjects and under or over estimating others. One of the examples is mentioning mainly western theatre of operations. In many schoolbooks role of the USSR in victory over fascism is greatly underestimated. Great battles such as battle of Moscow or Stalingrad are only mentioned even more summarily than clashes in North Africa or Far East.

Despite the fact that Polish soldiers fought on eastern and western fronts only the western are being glorified. Also history of Polish resistance is being manipulated. Role of communists in partisan warfare is being underestimated. On the other hand role of the right wing in resistance is greatly exaggerated. Polish government on exile that resided in London is being shown as a sole legitimate authority. In history programmes resistance groups that did not accept it are not present or are presented as traitors.

Relations between Poland and USSR are presented in clearly propagandistic way. Soviet Union is presented not as a liberator but as aggressor guilty of all diplomatic and armed conflicts with Poland. In teaching programmes more stress is being put at battles that Polish forces has fought in 1939 against the USSR than against Germany, despite the fact that they were just small clashes.

Manipulations are not only related with presenting historic events but also causes and effects of the Second World War and is an element of wider propaganda campaign. For example rebuilding of the country after the war are absent because reconstruction of Poland after 1945 by new authorities, which had a wide popular support.

Such examples are numerous. They appear more and more often. History programmes are being consulted by the Institute of the National Memory – a state institution financed from budget, aimed not to support real history studies but solely right wing propaganda, mainly about the Second World War.

In Poland after 1989 educational programmes were being changed several times. Entire educational system was transformed to be more and more commercialised. More complex programmes were reduced in favour of interdisciplinary subjects. It is also the case of history. Number of hours of history on all stages of education was reduced. Changes in educational system resulted also in different attitude towards schoolbooks and school aids. New schoolbooks were introduced at the beginning of the 1990's. History schoolbooks were transformed in fact into brochures that trivialise most of subjects, presented history as series of selected dates and happenings without any deeper analysis of historic processes. They tend to be more and more  impressive graphically but it is not related with increasing their factual quality.

New programmes give no room and no time for debates. Students are taught to pass tests and answer simple questions not to analyse subjects. Before the reforms children and youth were taught to be able to select important informations and interpret them. Students had for example to be able to read documents they are learning about. Often analysing source texts from various points of view was one of the tasks during exams. Nowadays such exercises are no longer being done. There is just plain and in most cases very trivial explanation without need to seek other sources and analyse various points of views. Tests, often even checked by the computer, do not teach this. 

Also because of the fact that now Polish educational system has more stages than it used to be, teachers on each stage have less time to realise so called minima in each subject. Children are to be shaped into specialists in narrow subjects that do not need to know a lot of general information about history or literature.

To summarise, we are now facing two main threats. One is clearly related with anticommunist propaganda, and other with changing educational systems in entire Europe that also prevents young people from learning real history because it was labelled useless for the capitalist society where only market oriented specialist are needed. Commercialisation can sometimes be very efficient way of manipulating people.