The Destruction of Polish Historical Monuments on Territories Occupied by the Third Reich – the Kraków District

The objective of this research project is to arrive at a detailed picture of the losses incurred by Poland in terms of historical monuments, which constitute a particular type of monuments of culture, in direct consequence of the German occupation. Specifically, the aim is, first, to summarize and verify the existing body of research, and thereafter to augment it with new findings relating to the annexed lands as a whole.

This will allow us to elaborate a catalog of acts of destruction expressly documented in sources, which will then be used to develop a problem-based study depicting the policy followed by the German occupier with respect to Polish historical monuments; finally, we intend to outline the activities undertaken by Poles both in wartime and during the early postwar period with the objective of recording these acts of destruction and eliminating their consequences. A singularly important aspect of research will be concerned with determining the personal details of those who were responsible for waging systematic devastation, and of the individuals who helped save Polish historical monuments during the period in question.

Due to the scope and breadth of the subject, the first stage of work will focus on historical monuments located in the district of Kraków, the primary metropolitan center of which – Kraków – functioned as the capital of the General Government and was perceived by the occupier as the most German in terms of its monuments of culture (including historical monuments).

Photo: National Digital Archives