Two New Museums about Polish History
Two new museums about Polish history will be opened in the Polish part of Pomerania – the Piaśnica Museum in Wejherowo, and the Westerplatte Museum.
In December 2015, a directive by the Ministry of Culture established the Piaśnica Museum in Wejherowo. It is a new branch of the Stutthof Museum, created to commemorate the Piaśnica massacres (the first mass genocide committed by the Nazis during World War II) and other executions of Polish intelligentsia in Pomerania.
Mass executions in Piaśnica began at the end of October 1939 and continued until the beginning of April 1940. They were a part of the Intelligenzaktion, executed by SS officers and members of the paramilitary organisation Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz. Historians estimate that between 12,000 and 14,000 people were murdered in the forests of Piaśnica. Most of the victims were Polish intellectuals from Gdańsk Pomerania.
The Piaśnica Museum will be housed in the Villa Musica in Wejherowo at 6 Ofiar Piaśnicy Street, a building historically linked with these tragic events. It was built in the 1920s by Franciszek Panek, a physician and local activist, whose two daughters Stanisława and Kazimiera, local teachers, were murdered in Piaśnica. In 1939, the villa was taken over by the Nazis, who turned it into a Gestapo headquarters. It was there that massacres were organised, while clothes and other items stolen from the victims were stored in the basement.
On 22nd December 2015, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage announced plans for the Westerplatte Museum, and in March 2016 granted it official status. The idea to create a museum in Westerplatte isn't new, yet it was dropped some time ago and the Museum of Second World War in Gdańsk was built instead. The first director of the new museum is Piotr Semków, a professor at the Polish Naval Academy in Gdynia. The collection director is Mariusz Wójtowicz-Podhorski, author of Westerplatte 1939. Prawdziwa historia (EN: Westerplatte 1939: The True Story).
The museum will be co-managed by the Marshal of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The opening of the permanent exhibition is planned for 1st September 2019, the 80th anniversary of the beginning of WWII. Before that, the location of the future museum will undergo archaeological work and reconstruction.
The exact programme of the museum is still being discussed. The chronological frame of the exhibition will be 1st September 1939 to 30th April 1940, the date Major Henryk Dobrzański died. Historical memorabilia from Westerplatte is still in the process of being collected.
Source: PAP, compiled by MŚ, translated by OK, March 2016