The founder (1991) and first Head of the Department was professor Tomasz Strzembosz. The Department carries out research on history (1939-1953) and contemporary change in the countries of Central (Poland, Baltic states, former Yugoslavia) and Eastern (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) Europe and Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, North Caucasus republics). Particular emphasis is put on Ukraine and Polish-Ukrainian relations.
Applying methodology of historical research, we investigate the fight of national underground and independent organizations (notably scouts) in the 1940s, conflicts between them, their persecution by occupation authorities (Third Reich and USSR) as well as totalitarian regimes and social engineering that accompanied them. Special attention is dedicated to the analysis of mass murders committed by both the states and guerrilla troops.
Using sociology and political science methods we look at how contemporary identity and collective memory in the countries of the region are shaped by images of major XX-century events, especially 1917-1921, 1939-1953, collapse of the USSR and Yugoslavia. In this context, we are interested in the situation of Poles in the former Soviet Union countries. Our research concentrates on memory politics led by state authorities, political parties, memory institutions and also on media activities.
We principally aim at conducting comparative research: we compare historical experiences but also their reflections in identity and memory of post-communist states and societies.