The mission of the Pilecki Institute is to preserve memory and to document and research history of the 20th century, with a special focus on the Polish experience and the wartime fates of Polish citizens.
The Pilecki Institute has been established to facilitate the interdisciplinary and international analysis of issues and developments that were of key importance for the political history of the 20th century, namely the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes and the global consequences of their actions.
An important element of our mission focuses on honoring persons who gave aid and succor to Polish citizens and Poles of different citizenship in those difficult times. Their efforts are recognized by the award of the Virtus et Fraternitas medal, which is bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland acting on a motion of the Director of the Institute.
We also gather and make available documents concerning selected aspects of the 20th century, provide support for scientific research programs, and help disseminate knowledge about the period through educational projects and events which straddle culture and history.
The Scientific Department of the Institute gathers researchers who specialize in political science, sociology, history and Jewish studies. This unique milieu of scholars both initiates and participates in interdisciplinary research projects devoted to totalitarianism and the history of Poland in the 20th century. Their studies are concerned primarily with the Second World War, its consequences, and the cultivation of memory by the second and third postwar generations.
We are working on a scholarship program which will allow researchers from Poland and abroad to use the material collected in the archive of the Institute. We are hoping that the unique experience of East Central Europe will be a starting point for new research on the 20th century which will demonstrate the complexity of this period, as well as the events, ideas, and mechanisms which determined the course of history.
Workshops, lectures, location-based games – our educational projects are aimed at the youth and adults alike. We show our complicated history on the basis of archival and source materials, presenting the fate of the witnesses of the 20th century against the background of historical processes. Their experiences, dilemmas, and choices allow us to demonstrate the realities of the previous century from the perspective of individuals.
The 20th-century history is made up of thousands of stories waiting to be discovered. Accounts and testimonies stored in archives are ready-made plotlines. The Institute aims to build bridges between academia and culture by inspiring and initiating cultural projects which present the 20th century by means of various forms of expression – music, visual arts, theater, painting, and others.
A well-written story captures the attention of the reader and remains etched in memory. The Institute publishes collections of depositions made by victims of Nazism and Communism, as well as academic works penned by authors representing various disciplines, who explore issues that so far have been neglected or barely touched upon in research on the 20th-century history of Poland. We also translate into Polish the most important works on totalitarianisms.
THE MODEL OF COMMEMORATION
The Pilecki Institute has developed a cohesive and clear way of commemorating Poles who were murdered for providing aid and assistance to Jews during the Second World War. A straightforward symbol – a stone with a brief inscription in Polish and English – and an application informing about the events which unfolded at a given location remind us of people who overcame the paralyzing terror and, although in fear for their own lives and those of their loved ones, gave succor to Jews.