Fight for Westerplatte. Mayor of Gdańsk spoke with deputy minister of culture
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage proposed Gdańsk city officials to join the ranks of the honourable committee for the construction of the Westerplatte Museum; the city would like to co-create and co-run the museum, offering land for its construction - this is the result of the meeting between deputy culture minister Jarosław Sellin and the mayor of Gdańsk Aleksandra Dulkiewicz.
Tuesday's meeting in the culture ministry in Warsaw was called because of the special legislation that is being proceeded in the Sejm regarding the construction of the Westerplatte Museum. According to its authors, Law and Justice (PiS) MPs, the planned legislation is meant to facilitate the construction of the Museum of Westerplatte and 1939 War in Gdańsk, so that it would better highlight the heroism of Polish soldiers who resisted the Third Reich in 1939. The draft law is criticised by the Gdańsk authorities, including mayor Dulkiewicz who sees it as an attempt to take over the Westerplatte by the central government.
During press conference that followed the meeting, Sellin said the ministry, as the organiser of the museum, proposes "Gdańsk city officials to join the ranks of the honourable committee for the construction of the Westerplatte Museum". "This committee will be working on the concept of this exterior museum, so they (Gdańsk officials) will have a chance to be involved in the process," he said.
"We propose also that the city of Gdańsk sent its delegates to the Council of the Museum of the Second World War, because when this council was being formed, no one from Gdańsk city hall was present. Furthermore, we also suggest sending delegates to the honorary committee for the construction of the monument of Witold Pilecki that will be unveiled in September in Gdańsk," the deputy minister added.
The mayor of Gdańsk said on the other hand that Westerplatte is "an incredibly important place for Poles, a piece of Poland that 80 years ago Polish soldiers fought for, longer than they were expected".
"Today, I offered that the city of Gdańsk will provide land for the future facility, in order to properly commemorate this place. I know the minister is considering my offer. My proposal is that we will co-create this place and so we will share the responsibility for it. Together we will bear the responsibility for how to commemorate this place, for the shape of the exhibition, and we will co-run this institution. I hope that the minister will seriously look into my proposal," Dulkiewicz said.
In her opinion, the works on the draft legislation regarding the museum should be stopped. "As long as we're talking, there's still hope, so I want to sincerely thank the minister for the meeting. I also want to thank that we're working together on the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the WWII outbreak. I hope that this celebration will not only be a memorial, but also a future-oriented reflection," said the mayor of Gdańsk.
Asked about the draft special legislation, Sellin said that it's meant to "solve the land ownership dispute in general, not only between the city and the state". He reminded that the land at the Westerplatte Peninsula belong to many owners, including private and state enterprises. "We want to solve this problem comprehensively. Therefore, the mayor's offer, though very interesting, doesn't solve the problem as a whole, because, I repeat, there are many more land owners at Westerplatte apart from the city of Gdańsk," he said.
Dulkiewicz pointed out that her offer "certainly solves a part of the problem" and thanked Sellin for "declaring to consider the serious offer by the serious city of Gdańsk". "We simply care for commemorating this place and how this commemoration will look like," she said.
She added that she was ready for any cooperation as long as "this cooperation is based on partnership". "Today, when this draft special bill is on the table, that's not cooperation based on partnership. Same thing when it comes to a new place, a new way to honour Westerplatte, I would expect a partners' cooperation not only with myself and the city, but also with museums' network, historians, veterans, because Westerplatte is one the most important places in Polish history," said mayor Dulkiewicz.