“So, war is here! From this day on, all our other affairs and concerns must become secondary. We are shifting our whole public and private lives onto a special track. We have entered a time of war. The whole nation’s energies must be steered in a single direction. We are soldiers, one and all! We must think about a single goal: to fight until victory!” – these words of a Polish Radio announcer on 1st of September 1939 are still ringing in the ears of Poles just like the sounds of the alarm warning the London dwellers against the German bombing raid. Every nation has its own idea of the War and every nation concentrates on its own suffering as it constructs its memory of the past. For some, the War began in 1939, for others in 1940 or 1941. There is no consensus about the War outcomes: as the peoples of the West celebrated their regained sovereignty, for the nations of the East-Central Europe the War ended in a new, this time Soviet, captivity.
We want to create a museum in Gdansk that will show the Poles as the first nation to stand up Hitler, in the name of freedom and fundamental human values. The defence of these values was the most important reason for the cataclysm of this war. At the same time, we want to present the experience of other nations that were conquered and occupied, that offered resistance and fought on the fronts and underground as well as with acts of civil disobedience. The commonalities and differences in the fortunes of countries should merge into a full picture of this most important and most disastrous event in the history of the 20th century.
Our Museum intends to emphasise what has until now most often been passed over: the fates of civilian populations, the daily life of soldiers and the various forms of resistance and of life in the extreme conditions brought on by war and occupation. We will address the issues of responsibility, guilt and punishment. We are planning to open the Museum in 2014.