This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Polish-Ukrainian working group consisting of archivists and historians. In April 1996, representatives of the Polish Ministry of the Interior and the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) began talks which resulted in the establishment of a working group and the creation of a series of publications on the difficult fate of Poland and Ukraine in the 1930s and 1940s which would be available to both Polish and Ukrainian readers. The decisions made at that time are still being implemented today. The first volume of the series was published at the end of 1998.
The jubilee tenth volume, which was released at the end of 2020, was preceded by a foreword by the Presidents of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. It touches upon the topic of the consequences of the order issued by General Vsevolod Merkulov, Lavrenti Beria’s deputy, who ordered the collecting of information on the so-called anti-Soviet element after 17 September 1939 i.e. officers of the uniformed services of the Second Polish Republic, as well as representatives of the administration. It was a prelude to the "Polish Operation II", this time in the eastern territories of the Second Polish Republic.
In connection with the 25th anniversary of the Polish-Ukrainian archival cooperation, a presentation of the above-mentioned volume and a discussion on the Polish-Ukrainian archival and historical project, currently implemented by archivists and historians from the Institute of National Remembrance and the SBU as well as the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,took place at the Belweder Palace in Warsaw.
The guests were welcomed by Andrzej Dera, Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland on behalf of the President Andrzej Duda. Speeches will be given by Mateusz Szpytma, Ph.D. the Deputy President of the IPN and Oleh Kuts, Minister-Counselor at the Embassy of Ukraine.
- We are extremely grateful to Poland for supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, for supporting Ukraine's course towards the European Union and NATO. I would like to thank all representatives of archival institutions for this cooperation as it constitutes one of the foundations of building friendly relations between our countries, said Oleh Kuts on behalf of the Ukrainian Ambassador.
- I would like to guarantee the continuation of our cooperation and look forward future volumes of our joint publication - assured the Deputy President of the Institute of National Remembrance, Mateusz Szpytma, Ph.D.
The discussion will be attended by: Prof. Andrzej Nowak (IH PAN), Prof. Oleksandr Lysenko (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), Prof. Hiroaki Kuromiya (Indiana University), Prof. Yuri Shapoval, Andrij Kohut, Marcin Majewski, Ph.D. and Marzena Kruk, the Director of the IPN Archive. The meeting will be chaired by Adam Hlebowicz, the Director of the IPN’s National Education Office.Prof. Andrzej Nowak outlined the context of today's times, saying that "history is increasingly becoming the subject of manipulation, the awareness of which is disappearing in the culture of post-truth." - It is not about the specificity of our region - the aggressive historical policy of the Kremlin. It is a mass-culture phenomenon which makes the past seem like a jigsaw puzzle that can be freely moved around. Hopes associated with the transformation processes in Russia have also not been fulfilled. We lack the cooperation of fellow archivists and historians from Russia - said prof. Nowak.
Referring to the topic of totalitarianisms, Prof. Oleksandr Lysenko, stated that "in every society there will be a group of people ready to “act under the banners of radicalism". - There will always be supporters of authoritarian rule and we know what the consequences of this could be . It is important to understand this method of executing power, which ultimately leads to terror. In order to be able to analyze this phenomenon, we must examine documents kept in the archives. (...) The policy of remembrance of our countries should correspond to the common interest of our citizens while respecting all victim of totalitarian regimes, argued prof. Lysenko.
After five years of the functioning of The Polish-Ukrainian working group, as a result of an agreement signed between the Polish Ministry of the Interior and the IPN, since 2001 the group has by been composed of employees of the Institute of National Remembrance, the Sectoral State Archive of the Security Services of Ukraine (HDA SBU) and the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
The working group operates on the basis of bilateral agreements signed in 1996 and 2009. The main tasks of the group include the strengthening of archival and historical cooperation. It primarily focuses on preparing selections of source materials concerning issues from the most recent, extremely difficult and complicated Polish and Ukrainian history, based on the SBU and IPN archival resources. So far, the published source editions have been devoted to the problems of the Great Famine (1932-1933) and the fate of the Polish community at that time, the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine (Polish Operation of the NKVD), the Polish underground under the Soviet occupation 1939-1941 and in the period 1944-1946, the Volhynian and Galician crime and the events of in the Chełm Region (Poles and Ukrainians between two totalitarianisms 1939–1945), the resettlement of Poles and Ukrainians in the years 1944–1946, as well as ‘Operation Vistula’ 1947.
The effects of the work of the Polish-Ukrainian Working group so far, are the publication of twelve volumes containing selected documents from the 1930s and 1940s, produced by the Soviet (NKVD, NKGB) and Polish communist Secret Services. Two volumes have been published in English.
The series “Poland and Ukraine in the 1930s and 1940s. Documents from the Archives of the Secret Services” has been presented in many research centers around the world, including: Harvard University in the United States, Toronto University in Canada or Monash University in Australia, where it was very well received. The New York Book Review for example, published a review of volume 8 of the series, entitled The Great Terror: Polish Operation 1937–1938 authored by Timothy Snyder.
The publications can be found online at the IPN's Digital Library
If you are interested in the details of the work of the working group and IPN’s cooperation with Ukrainian entities, please visit: