Layers of Dissonant Heritage in Poland

Soviet and Russian Memorials after 24 February 2022

  • Małgorzata Łukianow (Autor/in)
  • Anna Topolska (Autor/in)


This article aims to show the diverse avenues of the debates over Russian and Soviet heritage in Poland. While the Soviet monuments have been broadly contested – either as bottom-up or top-down initiatives – tsarist Russian heritage has been less visible in the discussions. In 2022 the country became a memory battlefield, adding layers to already palimpsestic memory sites. We provide both an overview of this process and a close reading of selected sites, concentrating primarily on the Monument to Heroes in Poznań and the Monument to the Liberation of the Land of Warmia and Masuria in Olsztyn. Moreover, this article looks at the role the Institute of National Remembrance has played since March 2022 in urging local authorities to dismantle Soviet monuments within their municipalities. The official removal of approximately 60 monuments across Poland is anticipated in the near future. 35 have already been dismantled by late 2023, sometimes following grass-roots initiatives. Our article examines this interpretive framework through the lenses of palimpsests and postcolonial theory. Characterised by the sequential actions of divulging and reinstating, palimpsests tangibly disclose latent historical imprints, while decolonisation endeavours to expose and revive suppressed narratives and meanings.