Polish government sacks Museum of Second World War director

Patrick Steel, 12.04.2017
Museum will merge with Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939
Pawel Machcewicz, the director of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk, Poland, was sacked last week following a court battle with the Polish government over the future of the museum.

On 5 April the Supreme Administrative Court upheld an order by the minister of culture and national heritage Piotr Gliński that the Museum of the Second World War should merge with yet-to-be-built Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939.

On 6 April Machcewicz was dismissed and Karol Nawrocki was appointed as the acting director of the merged organisation.

The government has stated it would like to see the merged museum focus on the history and accomplishments of the Polish army of the Second Republic of Poland.

According to supporters, the merger was a pretext to remove Machcewicz, a former advisor to former prime minister Donald Tusk. Tusk, a political opponent of the ruling Law and Justice Party, conceived the Museum of the Second World War with an internationally-focused exhibition.

The museum issued a statement saying: “In the next few days, the acting director will be inducted into the functioning of the whole institution. His first task will be to examine the financial and employment situation.”

But Machcewicz is prepared to fight to preserve the integrity of the exhibition on copyright grounds.

A source close to the museum said: “Machcewicz plans to protect the exhibition as it was designed and prepared in original shape, but so far there is no sign that there will be any changes on the exhibition. I think it’s too soon to tell any more about that.

“In next few weeks we will know the decisions of the new director and his plans about the museum and its programme.”

Comments