“The people of Poland still don’t have the courage to present their view of history to the outside world.”

 1 April 2009

The Janusz Kurtyka Award is a multi-purpose project design instrument created by the Janusz Kurtyka Foundation for the global promotion of the best books by Polish historians. Our aim is to make outstanding works of history published on the Polish domestic book market accessible in translation to an international readership.

Many people in Poland think that Polish history is well-known throughout the world. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The history of Poland happens to be an unfamiliar or misconstrued subject even in the world of scholarship. The reason for this is that there are not enough publications by Polish historians available internationally. This applies both to books on Poland’s medieval and modern history. The biggest problems associated with the lack of information Poland’s international partners are faced with concern the modern period. But can we be surprised to hear opinions on Polish history that appal or outrage us voiced so often, if we have failed to provide access to the work that has been done on our history?

The late Janusz Kurtyka was well aware of this burning issue. When he was President of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance he had important books published by the Institute translated into English, and he organised international conferences which were attended by Polish scholars. We are going a step further, not only having books by Polish authors translated, but also published by international publishers.

We are paying special attention to the scale of our undertaking. We are working with publishers with an established reputation and global circulation. We are having the books which win the Janusz Kurtyka Award translated into English and German and promoting them in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In each of these countries we have built up a network of contacts with universities, academic institutions, and learned societies, and we are working for the exchange of opinions. Like the Polish writer Józef Mackiewicz, we believe that only the truth is interesting, and that there are many people in the world who want to learn the truth.