OSW Report

Endangered heritage

Polish cultural goods in Ukraine and Belarus
Piotr Kosiewski
Okładka raportu "Nowe pomysły na obronę totalną"

As a result of the changes of borders in the 20th century, a large proportion of Poland’s cultural heritage found itself on the territory of present-day Belarus and Ukraine. Over the centuries, many cultural goods were created on the erstwhile eastern territories of Poland which the contemporary Polish state, like the other two countries, considers part of its national heritage. This consists mainly of architectural and artistic monuments, archives, libraries and cemeteries. It is difficult to determine in detail how much of the Polish cultural heritage created before 1945 remained in Belarus and Ukraine, but certainly without it, the history of Polish culture and knowledge about it cannot be complete. In fact, no other countries in the world (except Lithuania) are as important to the Polish cultural heritage as Ukraine and Belarus.

This report gives a comprehensive overview of issues related to Polish cultural goods in Belarus and Ukraine. It discusses the significance of the cultural assets located within the territories of these two countries in the context of preserving the heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while also presenting the state of their preservation and how it is perceived by the respective authorities and societies. The publication also contains an analysis of Poland's activities towards Polish cultural goods in Belarus and Ukraine over the past three decades and a discussion of issues related to cataloguing cultural assets, the extent of financial commitment to their restoration, as well as the organisation of the Polish public institutions responsible for the activity in this field. The final part of the report includes recommendations concerning some possible solutions and potential directions of policy that Poland could try to implement in the subsequent years.