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Poles-Ukrainians 1939-1947

The exhibition on Poles-Ukrainians 1939-1947 was opened in Krasiczyn on April 18th, 2002. It illustrates the difficult co-existence of Ukrainians and Poles in the Eastern parts of the Polish territories. The border dispute was the main reason for disagreement between the two nations. While Polish people aspired to rebuild their state, Ukrainians wanted to create their independent state in the territories that were regarded by the respective nations as their own. Recollections from these times are deeply rooted in the memories of both nations.

The exhibition brings up many difficult problems: the attitude of Ukrainians in September 1939; nationalistic policy of the German and Soviet occupants, who tried to exploit Polish-Ukrainian tensions; the activities of the Polish and Ukrainian underground; and most importantly, the events concerning the anti-Polish action of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA), in the years 1943-1944 in Wołyń and Eastern Galicia as well as the operation "Wisła" in 1947. The death toll of the events in the years 1943-1947 amounts to 80-100 thousand Poles and 15-20 thousand dead Ukrainians. Hundreds of thousands of people had to leave their houses.

The authors of the exhibition wanted to limit their comments to a minimum. The goal was to let the presented documents and photographs speak for themselves. Such a way of presenting the facts enabled viewers to formulate their own opinions. The material presented includes the UPA reports from their anti-Polish actions, Krushchov's reports addressed to Stalin as well as recollections of Polish and Ukrainians witnesses. The authors did not omit facts shameful for both Poles and Ukrainians. However, they decided not to shock the public by showing scenes of brutality. A few photographs of murdered Poles and Ukrainians presented at the exhibition served only as an example of the heinous deeds that took place in the war and post-war period. The exhibition's intention is not to impose any interpretation but to lead to a discussion of difficult moments in the history of Polish and Ukrainian nations.

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