Polish Award Ceremony 2015

Group of Polish prize winners from “Technical No. 8”, a school in Olsztyn | Photo: KARTA Center
Group of Polish prize winners from “Technical No. 8”, a school in Olsztyn | Photo: KARTA Center

On 1 December 2015, the Polish EUSTORY History Competition »Historia bliska« invited its prize winners to the Museum of Independence in Warsaw to receive their awards. Since its first round in 1996 it has seen nearly 14,000 students handing in their research projects on local history. To honour the students’ achievements, Fundacja Ośrodka KARTA (KARTA Center), the competition’s organiser, had invited experts from the field of historical research who praised the results.

Under the title »Hidden History – undiscovered, untold, unheard« 350 secondary school pupils entered their works into the competition. Many students dealt with the war-torn 20th century and its impact on Polish society. One work told the story of the people who lived in the Podlasie region of which one third was forced to resettle to czarist Russia. The students reported that this chapter of Polish history was mostly forgotten about and that history books only scarcely paid attention to the people’s fates. Other works dealt with the history of forced labour workers and soldiers during World War II and the religious and cultural conflicts in the Warmian-Masurian region around the city of Olsztyn.

Marcin Wilkowski, a specialist in the medialisation of history from the Fundacja Nowoczesna Polska (Foundation Modern Poland), congratulated the students on their results. He pointed out that the interpretation of historical documents can be a complex undertaking in times of Photoshop and digitalisation. The meta-level, namely the question what the originator or editor of a source wanted to convey or conceal, had to be asked at all times when dealing with photos and films. Alicja Wancerz-Gluza, organiser of the Polish competition, emphasised the new types of original sources, for instance posts on social media, which were to change the telling of history entirely.

Having concluded its 18th round, the Polish history competition is one of the oldest in the EUSTORY Network. It is organised by the independent KARTA Foundation which aims at promoting the documentation and popularisation of Polish and Eastern European history in the 20th century. The competition is open to all Polish secondary school pupils (aged 15-19). If you are interested, you can watch the award ceremony online.

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