Dariusz Stola, former Head of the POLIN Museum, in the midst of a political storm

Updates (last: February 2020)


  • February 28, 2020 – Zygmunt Stępiński, the new head of the POLIN Museum, wrote a public letter to Dariusz Stola. A passage of this letter below:

🇬🇧 Darek, I would like to address these words to you directly. They say no one is irreplaceable. Perhaps it is true. What is also true, however, is that there are people among us who are truly unique and extraordinarily clever; people who change the course of events and thus shape our history. We have had a great honor and privilege to work with such a person. POLIN Museum is one of the most important institutions of culture in Poland and it will follow the course that you have mapped out for us. I am sure that our paths will cross along this course, and more than once at that.

🇫🇷 Dariusz, je m’adresserai directement à toi. On dit qu’il n’y a pas de personnes irremplaçables. C’est peut-être vrai. Mais il est également vrai que parmi nous, il y a aussi des personnes exceptionnelles, d’une sagesse intimidante, qui influencent le cours des événements et façonnent l’histoire. Nous avons eu beaucoup de chance de coopérer avec une telle personne. Le Musée POLIN est l’une des institutions culturelles les plus importantes de Pologne et ne sortira pas du chemin que tu as tracé.

  • February 27, 2020 – Polish Minister of Culture signed the nomination of the new director of the POLIN Museum,  Zygmunt Stępiński. Congratulations! (source: Association of the Jewish Historical Institute)
  • February 14, 2020 — “Poland’s government  accepted a compromise candidate (Zygmunt Stępiński) as the new director of Warsaw’s landmark Jewish museum, ending a long impasse that had raised concerns over the popular institution’s future”. (Associated Press)

See the statement (in Polish) on the
webpage of the Polish Ministry of culture.

  • On February 12, 2020, Friends of the POLIN Museum, communal organizations, Jewish milieus and the donors issued a statement calling to end the current stalemate. While recognizing that Professor Dariusz Stola was the best candidate for the post of POLIN Museum director, they think that Zygmunt Stępiński, the current Acting Director of POLIN Museum, is an obvious candidate to replace him.
  • On February 11, 2020, Polish independent media OKOpress published a dramatic statement by Dariusz Stola (see a paper in English):

Seeing the damage that the Museum has already suffered and the threats facing it, I would like to declare that for the sake of its good functioning, I am ready to accept conditions that will allow to overcome the crisis. I am ready to refrain from exercising my rights if all the founders of the Museum find a satisfying agreement, necessary for the further work of the institution.

  • Jan. 30, 2020: The city of Warsaw and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland demanded government action on Stola’s reappointment.“We can no longer accept the situation in which one of the most important institutions of culture in Poland remains in a state of limbo,” Warsaw’s mayor and the board chairman of the private Jewish historical association said in a joint statement. Associated Press
  • Jan. 30, 2020: London mayor Sadiq Khan, who attended the Auschwitz 75 commemorations, told Jewish News he was anxious about the way in which the Polish government was speaking about its role in relation to the Nazi genocide. He said he was unhappy about Polish president Andrzej Duda’s decision to block the reappointment of Dariusz Stola, the former director of the Polin museum of the history of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Jewish News
  • Nov. 3, 2019: a paper in Le Monde, about Michal Bilewicz, a researcher in psychology of prejudice, working on antisemitism, whose nomination as professor is still pending for political reasons. Just like the one of Dariusz Stola does.
  • Oct. 3, 2019: a paper in Haaretz, Emilie van Outeren, updates the Israeli audience about recent developments of POLIN’s situation (Is the Polish Government Holding a Jewish Museum Hostage for Being ‘Disobedient’?)
  • Sept 23, 2019: a paper in New Yorker reminds the details of the incomprehensible situation of Prof. Stola.
  • Since May 2019: Prof. Stola is waiting for the official nomination by the Polish Minister of Culture, receives no salary and cannot do his work (cf. an interview with Piotr Wislicki from June 2019)
    • Depuis mai 2019, prof. Stola attend la nomination officielle pour son poste par le Ministre polonais de la Culture; il ne peut pas travailler et ne reçoit aucun salaire (cf. l’interview avec Piotr Wislicki a ce sujet).
  • May 11, 2019: Gazeta Wyborcza confirms that prof. Stola won the contest for the position of the director of the POLIN Museum
    • 11 mai 2019 Gazeta Wyborcza confirme que prof. Stola a gagné le concours pour le poste de directeur du musée POLIN.
  • Statement by prof. D. Stola, Feb. 22, 2019 / Prise de position du prof. Stola du 22 février 2019. 

12. 02. 2019: Le ministre de la Culture a refusé de prolonger le contrat du directeur du Musée POLIN (prof. D. Stola).
Quels sont les projets de M. Gliński?

Cet article est la traduction en anglais du texte paru dans Gazeta Wyborcza, retraçant les tensions politiques derrière la décision du Ministre polonais de la Culture de ne pas prolonger le mandat du prof. Dariusz Stola, directeur du Musée POLIN. Nous exprimons tout notre soutien à Mr. Stola (signez la pétition).

unitedkingsomThis article is a translation of a paper from Gazeta Wyborcza, about the decision of the Polish Minister of Culture to end the director mandate of Dariusz Stola, head of the POLIN Museum. We express all our support to Prof. Stola (sign the petition).

The Minister of Culture refused to extend the contract of POLIN Museum director. What are Mr Gliński’s plans?

Tomasz Urzykowski 16 February 2019 | 7AM

Professor Dariusz Stola’s term as director of POLIN Museum expires in about two weeks. The Ministry of Culture did not agree to extend his contract. He fell into disfavour when he condemned hate speech propagated by the Polish State Television (TVP) journalists. The new director will be selected by a committee vote.

In 2018 alone, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews was visited by over 670,000 people, the majority of them being guests from abroad. In Warsaw, such large attendance may be compared only with the National Museum and the Warsaw Rising Museum. The temporary exhibition Estranged: March ’68 and Its Aftermath proved to be extremely popular—it was viewed by over 116,000 people, a record-breaking number for an exposition dedicated to history.

Allegation: Director Stola is slandering Poland

Prof. Dariusz Stola was appointed director of POLIN Museum on 1 March 2014 for a term of 5 years, with an option to extend the contract. He is a historian, professor at the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences, specializing in Polish-Jewish relations, the Holocaust, the communist regime in Poland and international migrations in the twentieth century. He was appointed director of POLIN Museum by then Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski. Professor Stola took over a newly-constructed Museum building in the Warsaw district of Muranów with no permanent exhibition. The exhibition, completed during Prof. Stola’s term as director, was opened in October 2014. The Museum hosts excellent temporary exhibitions, important public debates and cultural events. It has gained widespread acclaim and numerous awards, among them Europa Nostra, the most prestigious European prize granted for preserving and propagating cultural heritage. The argumentation read: “[POLIN Museum] created a safe haven to engage in an intercultural dialogue, thus offering a vital lesson to today’s world.”

Despite all that, Prof. Stola came under fierce attack from the politicians and media associated with the current government. First, he criticised the Amendment to the Institute of National Remembrance Act. He then launched the program titled Estranged. March ’68 and Its Aftermath dedicated to the 1968 antisemitic campaign in Poland, which also pointed out to the contemporary hate speech (the exhibition presented examples of online hate speech propagated by journalists of TVP). Prof. Stola was accused, among others by MPs from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, of slandering Poland. In one interview, Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński accused him of a “deep political involvement.”

The Minister wants to organize a committee vote

POLIN Museum is co-run by the Ministry of Culture, the City of Warsaw and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute. Selecting a director and his deputies requires a unanimous decision reached by these three bodies. In case they fail to agree, the Minister may suggest an interim head of the institution. According to our sources, the Ministry has debated over a new appointment of POLIN Museum director for several months now. The City of Warsaw and the Association opted for extending Prof. Stola’s contract. The Ministry of Culture rooted against this option.

Piotr Wiślicki, Chairman of the Board of the Association declares: “On behalf of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute I wish to confirm that Professor Dariusz Stola is the best candidate for the post of director of POLIN Museum. We want him to continue his mission, for the Museum under his management keeps evolving and earning international acclaim.”

”In my opinion, Professor Dariusz Stola is the best director [of POLIN Museum]. He holds all possible assets to fulfil this function,” says Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of the City of Warsaw.

The last meeting of the three bodies that organize POLIN Museum was held three weeks ago at the Ministry of Culture. It was attended by Minister Piotr Gliński, Deputy Minister Jarosław Sellin, Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski and Chairman Piotr Wiślicki. “Acceding to the request of the Ministry of Culture, we have reached a conclusion that a committee vote in which all three bodies have equal representation is the most transparent and reliable method of selecting the new director. It is imperative to all of us that it is organized as soon as possible,” says Mr Wiślicki.

Will Minister Gliński keep his promise?

The Ministry of Culture is to organize the committee vote. Chairman Wiślicki and Mayor Trzaskowski suggested that Professor Stola should be the acting director until the committee vote is resolved. “It offers us a guarantee that all vital projects run by the Museum continue to be realised. We cannot except any other option. The Minister showed consideration to this proposal,” says Mr Wiślicki.

”I do hope the Ministry will respect this deal,” adds Mayor Trzaskowski.

Professor Dariusz Stola is planning to enter for the committee vote.

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