On 14 February 2019, the Natolin Historical Film Club and the European Civilization Chair organized a discussion of the film directed by Mr Wojciech SMARZOWSKI, Wołyń, responding to a student-led initiative. The original title relates to the mass killing in 1943 of Polish civilians by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in Nazi German-occupied Volhynia (an eastern province of the interwar Republic of Poland, now in western Ukraine), but the English title sums up the warning conveyed by the film. Since its première in 2016, the film has been a focus of much controversy in Ukrainian-Polish relations.
The event was introduced by Professor Ihor ILYUSHYN from Kyiv, who is currently spending two months at the Natolin campus as the winner of the Ivan Vyhovskyi Prize. Professor ILYUSHYN is one of the foremost Ukrainian historians of Ukrainian-Polish relations in the 1940's. For the debate he was joined by one of the leading Polish historians of these events, Professor Grzegorz MOTYKA of the Polish Academy of Sciences; by Natolin’s own Professor Georges MINK, inter alia expert in current Polish-Ukrainian relations and in the politics of memory and history; and by the Chairholder of the European Civilization Chair, Professor Richard BUTTERWICK-PAWLIKOWSKI. They and the numerous students in attendance soberly reflected on difficult questions including the veracity of the film’s graphic depiction, but relatively nuanced interpretation of historical events and processes, the different ways in which they have been remembered and commemorated, the obstacles posed by rival politics of history to Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation, and the opportunities for further Ukrainian-Polish dialogue and cooperation. The discussion was expertly moderated by Mr Jakub KUBICA.