Bringing the History back to Light

by Tom Szustek

West Pomerania – former German territories incorporated into Poland after World War II.

It took several decades for the Poles to finally feel responsible for this land and its history, no matter how cruel and unjust it was.

Under the supervision of Dr Marek Luczak, a group of volunteers has been cleaning old German cemeteries and searching for the tombstones of late residents of the city of Szczecin and its surroundings.

After 1945, when West Pomerania became a part of Poland, most of the German cemeteries were erased from the landscape, as a collective punishment for the harm done during World War II.

Today, as time passed, hostile sentiments towards our EU neighbour and partner have faded in collective memory and many Polish associations try to restore pieces of the history of former inhabitants of these lands, who died long ago before the German Nazis attacked Poland.

All recovered tombstones are digitally documented and entered into a database that allows the identification of individuals and their stories in German archives.

By bringing these tombstones back to light, the volunteers restore the history of these – now Polish – lands and they make the history of their own. (2021)