Polish government wins battle over WWII museum

Costing 104 million euros ($111 million), the Museum of the Second World War officially opened its doors to the public in the Baltic port city of Gdansk last month.

Polish government wins battle over WWII museum

World Bulletin / News Desk

Poland's rightwing government said Wednesday that it would push ahead with plans to merge the country's new World War II museum with another one that is in the works, a move that critics denounce as purely political.

The announcement came on the heels of a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday allowing the government-proposed merger, which had previously been blocked by a lower court.

The move is widely seen as a way to remove the museum's director, Pawel Machcewicz, a longtime friend and ally of EU President Donald Tusk.

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, is the arch-rival of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Conceived by Tusk while he was premier, the facility offers a sweeping panorama of the war that focuses in particular on civilians who made up the majority of its victims.

But the PiS government claims that the museum underplays Poland's own harrowing wartime fate, and drew up plans to fuse it with another museum planned in Gdansk, changing its management in the process.

"Two museums focused on similar themes operating in the same city would not be justified from an economic and organisational standpoint," Poland's culture ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

"The merger of both institutions will go ahead immediately."

Machcewicz told reporters Wednesday that the court's decision allows the museum he runs to be "wiped from the registry", and means his contract, which runs through to 2019, can be cancelled. 

"In my opinion, this was the main reason for merging the museums," said Machcewicz, who has spent the past eight years bringing the new facility to life.

Critics accuse the populist PiS government of using its "good change" policy to install loyalists as directors in several key state-controlled enterprises and public institutions, like television and radio broadcasters, as well as pushing through personnel changes that undermine the independence of the Constitutional Court.

The moves set off a series of mass protests and an unprecedented threat of EU sanctions over Warsaw's rule-of-law violations.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Nisan 2017, 10:30