Commemorating the figure of Nicolaus Copernicus in the Polish People’s Republic period as an element of historical policy pursued after 1945
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Instytut Północny im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego w Olsztynie, Polska
Submission date: 2023-11-09
Final revision date: 2023-12-08
Acceptance date: 2023-12-19
Online publication date: 2024-03-15
Publication date: 2024-03-15
Corresponding author
Ryszard Tomkiewicz   

Instytut Północny im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego w Olsztynie, Partyzantów 87, 10-402, Olsztyn, Polska
KMW 2023;323(4):591-606
In the post-1945 politics of memory, the figure of Copernicus was used in the context of the an- ti-German narrative to confirm the eternal ties with the Polish state of the lands annexed after the war. There was a specific pattern to it. While marginalising the fact that he was a cler- gyman, his contribution to world science was praised, and his Polishness and his ability to oppose the Teutonic Knights, identified with the Germans, were emphasised. Therefore, he was mentioned next to the defeaters of the Teutonic Knights from Grunwald, the Red Army, and the Polish Army, which defeated the Third Reich as a united Slavic world. The conclusion was that both Copernicus centuries ago and during World War II, allied troops led by the USSR were fighting with Germany for the same goals, including restoring areas with Piast origins to Poland. Despite using the figure of Copernicus in the implemented memory policy, the astronomer invariably enjoyed great sympathy in Polish society.
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