The essay by Polish historian Andrzej Nowak consists of two parts: in the first part he shares his thoughts about the decision of the Russian president to create the Presidential Commission to Counter Attempts to Harm Russia’s Interests by Falsifying History. He finds in its program a clear imperial dimension and reconstructs its potential legal influence in several areas by analyzing the text of the draft law “On Counteracting the Rehabilitation of Nazism, Nazi Criminals, and Their Accomplices in the Newly Independent States on the Territory of the Former USSR.” He points out the dramatic disparity between the historical memory of World War II in Poland or the Baltic States and Russia, and speculates about the type of political measures that can establish the Russian official historical narrative as a dominant one. Nowak claims that the borders of the prospective Russian empire coincide with the territory under the jurisdiction of the law “On Counteracting…” and the presidential Commission.
He then turns to the more general question of the state as a main subject of the politics of history and memory and the juridization of historical judgment as a contemporary trend. In the second part of his comments, Nowak offers his interpretation of the recent Polish politics of memory and history, in particular, of the activities of the Polish Institute of National Memory. While he evaluates the politics of history of Kachinsky’s administration as being rather liberal and pluralistic, he is disappointed with the attempts of the current administration to use the state apparatus to control historical debates. He tells the story of how he, the professor of history at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, in February 2009 became the target of left-leaning newspapers and a victim of government pressure for his role in supervising and publishing a revisionist biography of Lech Walesa.