Controlling the collective memory. A multitude of propaganda voices on the Polish-Soviet War (1919–1921)
The author of the article discusses the creation — in three successive historical periods — of the image of the 1919–1920 war between the Second Polish Republic and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, referred to as the Polish-Soviet War, Polish-Bolshevik War, Polish-Russian War, 1920 War. The name, description and opinion about the war — in the Second Polish Republic, in the Polish People’s Republic and in Poland today — depends on propaganda objectives, current politics and attitude to Poland’s eastern neighbour. The image of the war of 1919–1921 is highly ideologised, as is evidenced by the choice of words and metaphors used to provoke emotions, to provide strong value judgements with regard to the enemy and thus to control society’s behaviour as well as create myths and stereotypes which are kept in the collective memory for a long time. The history of this armed conflict has been and still is written under the pressure of various ideologies and propaganda strategies.
The aim of the article is to demonstrate that the image of wars in verbal accounts (history textbooks, historical monographs, literary works, oral histories etc.) and visual accounts (paintings, films etc.) depends on the historical context, socio-political determinants as well as the point of view of the individual creating the narrative of a given event. The shaping of collective memory is always accompanied by value judgements, selection of events and strong emotions.