Object structure


A Conditional Plurality of Memory : Oral Histories of the Polish People’s Army Soldiers


Acta Poloniae Historica T. 120 (2019), Review article ; Acta Poloniae Historica T. 120 (2019)


Filipkowski, Piotr (1977- )


Korecki, Tristan. Translator ; Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences


Instytut Historii PAN

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p. 163-177

Subject and Keywords:

oral history ; biographical sociology ; military history ; autobiographical narratives ; collective memory ; Second World War ; communism ; sociology - biographical methods ; Poland. Wojsko Polskie (1944- ) - personal narratives ; soldiers - Poland - biography - history and criticism


This essay is inspired by a close reading of the recently published volume Żołnierze ludowego Wojska Polskiego. Historie mówione (Soldiers of the Polish people’s Army. Oral histories) by Jarosław Pałka and Kaja Kaźmierska (Łódź, 2018) and continuously refers to it. Rather than a standard book review, it is a critical essay which positions this publication, and the documentation project standing behind it, in the context of Polish oral history research field. The latter has been expanding dynamically in recent years, gaining more and more recognition also among academic historians. One of its essential characteristics, to which this volume attests, is its methodological anchoring in biographical sociology. This field of research has a long academic tradition in Poland (though its current versions tend to adopt ‘Western’ ideas and research patterns) and offers scientific credibility to, still often insecure, oral history research. The text claims that scientific legitimisation of this kind does not necessarily lead to a convincing interpretation. The method, no matter how neutrally it may be presented, is not free from the authors’ value judgements and non-source-based historical knowledge (and imagination). The text, therefore, suggests a reading of the book – which is vastly a selection of edited, historically footnoted and narratively ordered oral history sources (biographical narrative interviews with the title soldiers) – that partly goes against the authors’ interpretations. Altogether, it makes up an exercise in (oral) historical hermeneutics.


Czapigo Dominik (ed.), Berlingowcy. Żołnierze tragiczni (Warszawa, 2015) ; Grupińska Anka, Ciągle po kole. Rozmowy z żołnierzami getta warszawskiego (Wołowiec, 2013) ; Kaźmierska Kaja and Pałka Jarosław, Żołnierze ludowego Wojska Polskiego. Historie mówione (Łódź, 2018)


Acta Poloniae Historica



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Resource Type:

Article : scientific review



Resource Identifier:

0001-6829 ; 2450-8462 ; 10.12775/APH.2019.120.07


IH PAN, sygn. A.295/120 Podr. ; IH PAN, sygn. A.296/120 ; click here to follow the link




Creative Commons Attribution BY-ND 4.0 license

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. [CC BY-ND 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY-ND 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of History PAS

Projects co-financed by:

Ministry of Science and Higher Education ; National Programme for the Development of the Humanities



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