Institute of National Remembrance

Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance
Instytut Pamięci Narodowej
Institute of National Remembrance logo
The logo of IPN
IPN headquarters
IPN headquarters, Warsaw
Abbreviation IPN
Motto Our history creates our identity.[1]
Formation 1998-12-18
Extinction n/a
Legal status Association
Purpose/focus Legal, educational
Headquarters Warsaw, Poland
Location Towarowa Street
Coordinates 52°08′00″N 20°35′34″E / 52.1333°N 20.5928°E / 52.1333; 20.5928
Region served Republic of Poland
Membership Staff
Official languages Polish
President Łukasz Kamiński
Main organ Council
Affiliations Platform of European Memory and Conscience
Staff Several hundred
Remarks The IPN Headquarters in Warsaw co-ordinates the operations of eleven Branch Offices and their Delegations

Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Polish: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej — Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu; IPN) is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives[2] and prosecution powers[3] founded by specific legislation.[2] It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and in particular the recent history of Poland.[4] IPN investigates both Nazi and Communist crimes committed in Poland, documents its findings and disseminates the results of its investigations to the public.[4]

The Institute was established by the Polish Parliament on December 18, 1998.[3] The Institute started its activities on July 1, 2000.

According to a new law which went into effect on March 15, 2007, IPN was to be mandated to carry out lustration procedures prescribed by Polish law.[2] However, key articles of that law were judged unconstitutional by Poland's constitutional court on May 11, 2007 so the role of IPN in the lustration process is at present unclear.[5]

The IPN is a founding member organisation of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.[6]



IPN's main areas of activity[4] and mission statement[3] include:

  • researching and documenting
  • the duty to prosecute crimes against peace, humanity and war crimes[3]
  • the need to compensate for damages which were suffered by the repressed and harmed people in the times when human rights were disobeyed by the state[3]
  • educating the public about recent history of Poland[4]

IPN collects, archives and organises documents about the Polish communist security apparatus (22 July 1944 to 31 December 1989).[3]


IPN was created by special legislation on 18 December 1998.[3] IPN is governed by the Chairman. This chairman is chosen by a supermajority (60%) of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) with the approval of the Senate of Poland on a request by a Collegium of IPN. The chairman has a 5-year term of office. The first chairman of the IPN was Leon Kieres, elected by the Sejm for five years in 8 June 2000 (term 30 June 2000–29 December 2005). The second chairman was Janusz Kurtyka, elected on 9 December 2005 with a term that started 29 December 2005 until his death in the Smolensk airplane crash on 10 April 2010. The current chairman is Łukasz Kamiński (since 2011).

The IPN is divided into:[2][3][7]

  • Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Główna Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu)
  • Bureau of Provision and Archivization of Documents (Biuro Udostępniania i Archiwizacji Dokumentów)
  • Bureau of Public Education (or Public Education Office, Biuro Edukacji Publicznej)
  • Lustration Bureau (Biuro Lustracyjne) (new bureau, since October 2006)[2]
  • local chapters.

On 29 April 2010, acting president Bronislaw Komorowski signed into law a parliamentary act that reformed the Institute of National Remembrance.[8]



The research conducted by IPN from December 2000 falls into four main topical areas:

  • Security Apparatus and Civil Resistance (with separate sub-projects devoted to Political Processes and Prisoners 1944-1956, Soviet Repressions and Crimes committed against Polish Citizens and Martial Law: a Glance after Twenty Years);[9]
    • Functioning of the repression apparatus (state security and justice organs) - its organizational structure, cadres and relations with other state authority and party organs[10]
    • Activities of the repression apparatus directed against particular selected social groups and organizations[10]
    • Structure and methods of functioning of the People's Poland security apparatus[10]
    • Security apparatus in the combat with political and military underground 1944-1956[10]
    • Activities of the security apparatus against political emigreés[10]
    • Security apparatus in combat with the Church and freedom of belief[10]
    • Authorities vis-a-vis social crises and democratic opposition in the years 1956-1989 f) List of those repressed and sentenced to death[10]
    • Bibliography of the conspiracy, resistance and repression 1944-1989[10]
  • War, Occupation and the Polish Underground;[9][11]
    • deepening of knowledge about the structures and activities of the Polish Underground State[11]
    • examination of the human fates in the territories occupied by the Soviet regime and of Poles displaced into the Soviet Union[11]
    • assessment of sources on the life conditions under the Soviet and German Nazi occupations[11]
    • evaluation of the state of research concerning the victims of the war activities and extermination policy of the Soviet and German Nazi occupiers[11]
    • examining the Holocaust (Extermination of Jews) conducted by Nazis in the Polish territories[11][12]
      • Response of the Polish Underground State to the extermination of Jewish population[12]
      • The Polish Underground press and the Jewish question during the German Nazi occupation[12]
  • Poles and Other Nations in the Years 1939-1989 (with a part on Poles and Ukrainians);[9][13]
    • Poles and Ukrainians[13]
    • Poles and Lithuanians[13]
    • Poles and Germans[13]
    • Communist authorities - Belarusians - Underground[13]
    • Fate of Jewish people in the People's Republic of Poland[13]
    • Gypsies in Poland[13]
  • Peasants vis-a-vis People's Authority 1944-1989 (on the situation of peasants and the rural policy in the years 1944-1989)[9][14]
    • inhabitants of the rural areas vis-a-vis the creation of the totalitarian regime in Poland;[14]
    • peasants vis-a-vis the Sovietisation of Poland in the years 1948-1956;[14]
    • attitudes of the inhabitants of rural areas towards the state-Church conflict in the years 1956-1970;[14]
    • the role of peasants in the anti-Communist opposition of the 1970s and 1980s.[14]

Among the most widely reported case investigated by the IPN thus far is the Jedwabne Pogrom, an infamous pogrom of Polish Jews "committed directly by Poles, but inspired by the Germans" in 1941. A selection of other cases include:

  • Bloody Sunday (1939), an alleged massacre of ethnic Germans by Poles after the German invasion of Poland
  • German camps in occupied Poland during World War II, the system of extermination, concentration, labor and POW camps operated by the German Nazis in occupied Poland
  • Holocaust in Poland, persecution of the Jews by the German Nazi occupation government in Poland
  • Katzmann Report, a detailed German report on extermination of Polish Jews
  • Kielce pogrom, a post-war pogrom of Polish Jews[15] by Poles
  • Koniuchy massacre, a massacre carried out by Jewish and Soviet partisan
  • Kraków pogrom.[16]
  • Massacre of Lwów professors, the mass execution of approximately 45 Polish professors of the University of Lwów
  • Massacres of Poles in Volhynia, an ethnic cleansing conducted by Ukrainians in Volhynia during World War II
  • Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against ethnic Poles by Nazi Germany during World War II
  • NKVD prisoner massacres, a series of mass executions committed by Soviet NKVD against Polish prisoners
  • Occupation of Poland (1939-1945) and treatment of Polish citizens by the occupants in that period
  • Operation Vistula, the 1947 deportation of southeastern Poland's Ukrainian, Boyko and Lemko populations by the post-war Soviet installed communist government of Poland in cooperation with Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union to the Western territories attached to Poland from Germany after WWII, the so called "Recovered Territories" [17][18]
  • Pawłokoma massacre, a massacre in 1945 of Ukrainian civilians by Polish partisans
  • Ponary massacre, the mass-murder of about 100,000 people performed by Germans and Lithuanians on Poles and Jews
  • Poznań 1956 protests, the first of several massive protests of the Polish people against the communist government of the People's Republic of Poland
  • Przyszowice massacre committed by Red Army on Polish villagers of Poland and other Red Army atrocities in Poland
  • Salomon Morel, a case of a Polish Jew running post-war camp were political prisoners were persecuted
  • Special Courts, the underground courts organized by the Polish Government in Exile
  • Wąsosz pogrom, a pogrom of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland
  • Żegota, Polish underground organization with the purpose of aiding persecuted Jews in German occupied Poland.


IPN is involved in dissemination of its research results in the form of publications (particularly the "IPN Bulletin" and "Remembrance and Justice" periodicals), exhibitions, seminars, panel discussions, film reviews, workshops and school lessons.[9] Since December 2000 IPN has organized over 30 academic conferences (particularly the Warsaw Congress of Science organized every year in September); 22 exhibitions in various museums and educational competitions involving thousands of students.[9] "IPN Bulletin" is of an informative and popular-scientific character and contains articles pertaining to the history of Poland in the years 1939-1990 as well as describes the current IPN activities.[9] "Remembrance and Justice" appears every half a year and is a scientific historical magazine.[9] IPN also publishes books which are usually edited as collections of documents, reports and memories, but also scientific elaborations (78 of such publications have appeared till April 2007).[9]

The Public Education Office co-operates on a permanent basis with the Ministry of National Education and Sport, having signed a Co-operation Agreement in 2001.[9] IPN gives opinions of curricula and textbooks on history that are used in Polish schools and is involved in teacher training activities.[9] The IPN also co-organizes postgraduate diploma studies on history at the Jagiellonian University and the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska.[9]


On 18 December 2006 Polish law regulating IPN was changed and came into effect on 15 March 2007. This change gave IPN new lustration powers.[19] However, key articles of that law were judged unconstitutional by Poland's Constitutional Court on May 11, 2007, making the role of IPN in lustration unclear and putting the whole process into question.[5]


Role in lustration and Wildstein list

One of the most controversial aspects of IPN is a by-product of its role in collecting and publishing previously secret archives from the Polish security apparatus: revealing secret agents and collaborators (a process called lustration).[20] One incident which drew criticism involved the so-called Wildstein list; a partial list of names of people who allegedly worked for the communist era Polish intelligence service, which was copied from IPN archives (without IPN permission) in 2004 by journalist Bronisław Wildstein and published in the Internet in 2005. The list gained much attention in Polish media and politics, and during that time IPN security procedures and handling of the matter came under criticism.[21]

IPN presidential election

The election of a new IPN president in December 2005 was controversial. Janusz Kurtyka, the incumbent IPN president, was contested by Andrzej Przewoźnik. Przewoźnik's candidature received a severe setback after documents were found which suggested his possible co-operation with Służba Bezpieczeństwa, the Communist Poland's internal intelligence agency and secret police. Przewoźnik was eventually cleared of the accusations, but not before he lost the election.[22]


IPN actions have also attracted support. In 2006 an open letter was published, declaring that[23] :

"History of Solidarity and anti-communist resistance in Poland cannot be damaged by scientific studies and resulting increase in our knowledge of the past. History of opposition to totalitarianism belongs to millions of Poles and not to one social or political group which usurps the right to decide which parts of national history should be discussed and which forgotten."

This letter was signed by a former Prime Minister of Poland, Jan Olszewski; the Mayor of Zakopane, Piotr Bąk; Polish-American Professor and member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council Marek Jan Chodakiewicz; Professors Maria Dzielska, Piotr Franaszek and Tomasz Gąsowski of the Jagiellonian University; Professor Marek Czachor of Gdańsk University of Technology, journalist and writer Marcin Wolski; Solidarity co-founder Anna Walentynowicz and dozens of others.[23][24]


  1. ^ The Institute of National Remembrance Guide, Warsaw 2009 (PDF 3.4 MB)
  2. ^ a b c d e (Polish) Nowelizacja ustawy z dnia 18 grudnia 1998 r. o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej – Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu oraz ustawy z dnia 18 października 2006 r. o ujawnianiu informacji o dokumentach organów bezpieczeństwa państwa z lat 1944–1990 oraz treści tych dokumentów. Last accessed on 24 April 2006
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k About the Institute From IPN English website. Last accessed on 20 April 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nauka polska: Instytucje naukowe - identyfikator rekordu: i6575
  5. ^ a b BBC News
  6. ^ "Czech Prime minister Petr Nečas: The years of totalitarianism were years of struggle for liberty". Platform of European Memory and Conscience. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  7. ^ (Polish)About the Institute From IPN Polish website. Last accessed on 24 April 2007
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Public Education Office IPN website. Last accessed on 24 April 2007
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Security Apparatus and Civil Resistance Central Programme. IPN pages, last accessed on 25 April 2007
  11. ^ a b c d e f War, Occupation and the Polish Underground State Programme. IPN pages, last accessed on 25 April 2007
  12. ^ a b c Extermination of Jews by German Nazis in the Polish Territories Programme. IPN pages, last accessed on 25 April 2007
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Poles and Other Nations in the Years 1939-1989 Programme. IPN pages, last accessed on 25 April 2007
  14. ^ a b c d e Peasants vis-a-vis People's Authority 1944-1989 Programme. IPN pages, last accessed on 25 April 2007
  15. ^ Prokurator IPN: prawda o pogromie kieleckim czeka na wyjaśnienie, Virtual Poland, July 1, 2006
  16. ^ Tomasz Konopka, "Śmierć na ulicach Krakowa w latach 1945-1947 w materiale archiwalnym krakowskiego Zakładu Medycyny Sądowej", Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość (IPN), nr 2 (8)/2005
  17. ^ Robert Witalec, Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej nr 11 ""Kos" kontra UPA", ISSN 1641-9561.
  18. ^ Tomasz Kalbarczyk, Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej nr 1-2 "Powrót Łemków", ISSN 1641-9561
  19. ^ (Polish) Najważniejsze wiadomości - Informacje i materiały pomocnicze dla organów realizujących postanowienia ustawy lustracyjnej IPN News. Last accessed on 24 April 2007
  20. ^ Tom Hundley, Poland looks back in anger, 1 December 2006, Chicago Tribune
  21. ^ Wojciech Czuchnowski, Bronisław Wildstein: człowiek z listą, Gazeta Wyborcza, last accessed on 12 May 2006
  22. ^ (Polish) Olejniczak: Kurtyka powinien zrezygnować, Polish Press Agency, 13 December 2005, last accessed on 28 April 2007
  23. ^ a b List w "obronie historyków z IPN", Polish Press Agency article reprinted on Wirtualna Polska. Last accessed on 20 April 2007.
  24. ^ Copy of a letter, Tezusz, Last accessed on 20 April 2007

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