The study

20th-century history of Ukraine in Polish history textbooks 




Svitlana Baturina

Series editor

Georgiy Kasianov

About the study

This research is part of the study of European school textbooks and manuals on the representation of key historical events related to Ukraine’s role in global processes, which was organised and commissioned by the Ukrainian Institute. 

The author analysed Polish textbooks and manuals on history (or mixed historical disciplines), which are used in Polish educational programs.  

The research reveals and analyses key narratives on the presentation of the 20th-century history of Ukraine and its interpretation in Polish school textbooks. 

Key points

The twentieth-century Ukraine is almost non-existent as a separate historical subject in modern Polish textbooks. Instead, Ukraine is included in the context of Polish historical events, with the exception of a few single storylines about the 1917-1921 Revolution and the period of independent Ukraine after 1991. 

In general, the conflict discourse predominates in the plots of Ukraine’s twentieth-century history presented in Polish textbooks. The authors of the study emphasised the presence of the definition of “Ukrainian nationalism” in the chapters of textbooks devoted to the interwar period in order to cover the attitude of anti-Polish political organisations. 

Despite the existing controversies in the interpretation of specific historical events by Ukrainian and Polish sides (for example, Volyn massacres in 1943), it became possible to avoid the confrontation on the textbooks’ pages. This is largely due to the activities of the Polish-Ukrainian commission on school textbooks (particularly in the context of twentieth-century history), which set a positive example for the other countries studied. 

As the author of the study emphasises, the history of conflicts remains in the past, and understanding and reconciling the historical memories of Ukrainian and Polish people is the foundation of the good neighbourliness between Poland and Ukraine nowadays.