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Zabiegi Trzeciej Rzeczypospolitej o restytucję polskiego dziedzictwa kultury z Federacji Rosyjskiej (1992–2012). Część II: Lata sukcesów i porażek (1996–2012)

Author: Dariusz Matelski
Year of publication: 2013
Source: Show
Pages: 143-171
DOI Address: http://dx.doi.org/10.15804/npw2013209
PDF: npw/05/npw2013209.pdf

The election of Aleksander Kwaśniewski for president of Poland in December 1995 vastly improved Poland-Russia relations. In 1996 Moscow set up an exhibition of documents relating to the years 1939-1941, including the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. During the ten years, four volumes of Katyn. Documents of crime. were completed. Further claim negotiations with Russia were interrupted by a bill passed on 5th February 1997 by the State Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) concerning law of possession of cultural goods, transferred into the Soviet Union as a result of the Second World War, staying on Russian Federation territory. It recognized all works of art and archives seized by the Red Army as the property of Russia. The lack of access to Russian archives because of limitations introduced by the Russian president’s decree of 2nd June 2001, about state security. In 1997 the Polish side managed to negotiate the return of the Wilanów collection an 18th century painting by Pompeo Batoni, showing Apollo and two Muses, from Pavlovsk palace, located near Saint Petersburg. Poland, as a part of the Council of Europe programme Reconstruction of the Memory of Poland, gathers information about sources concerning Poland and Polish people during the years 1772–1945, as well as works on methodology of research and on completing in formation about sources scattered around the world, in different countries. Furthermore, Poland within the programme schedule, supported financially Russian activists working on digitalisation and computerisation of the Comintern Archive. Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Poland in January 2002 passed to President Aleksander Kwaśniewski’s hands copies of more than a dozen private documents of Władysław Sikorski. The Polish Ministry of Culture identified ten works of art taken away from Poland to the Soviet Union in 1945, by the trophy brigades, including church goods that complied with the Duma’s conditions from 2004, such as Głogów Madonna by Lukas Cranach The Elder (from the collegiate church in Głogów) and the 15th century Forest Landscape by Jan Brueghel the Elder (from the City Museum in Gdańsk). The presidency of Lech Kaczyński during the years 2005–2010 cooled Polish- Russian relations. Russiaphobia reached the level of an official policy of the Polish state. From that moment on, Polish claims towards Russia were seen in Moscow as proof of anti-Russia views, not as a natural right to regain lost property, private or public. Not until the president’s plane crash on 10th April 2010, in which 96 people died, did Polish-Russian relations become a little warmer. Russian TV even broadcast Andrew Wajda’s film Katyn, giving Russian society a chance to find out about one of Stalin’s crimes. On 28th April 2010 the President of the Russian Federation Dmitrij Miedwiediew informed, that some unknown to historians up until then documents about Katyn were found. A part of them were published on the Federal Archive Service of Russia’s website (about 400 thousand pages). In 2010 the Madonna with child painting by Lukas Cranach The Elder was recovered from Russia. In 2012 the Republic of Poland took action in order to recover other cultural goods, including a) Juliusz Słowacki’s manuscript, the Journal of travel to the East, b) almost ten thousand items from the Malbork Numismatics Collection, c) two altar wings from the Silesian Museum of Artistic Craft and Ancient Times in Wrocław, d) miniatures by Hans Holbein the Younger, portraying Gdańsk merchant, Johann Schwarzwaldt, e) a silver whistle of Gdańsk skippers from the 15th century, f) hand-written inventory of new purchases of the Jacob Kabrun’s collection from the City Museum of Gdańsk, g) an unknown painter’s work: Madonna with the Infant and a parrot against a landscape background. Polish diplomatic note however, remained without any response...

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