The Wawel Castle in the shadow of the swastika. Debate

2022-05-24, 6:30 p.m.

On May 24, the ICC will host a debate on the history of the Wawel Hill during World War II. Debate participants: Professor Andrzej Betlej, Professor Jacek Purchla, and Dr. Michał Wiśniewski. Moderator: Dr. Monika Rydiger.


On November 7, 1939, Hans Frank – as the general governor of Polish territories not incorporated directly into the Reich – took his office at the Wawel Castle. The historic seat of Polish kings was renamed Krakauer Burg.

As soon as the Wawel Hill was seized, the Nazis began construction work to swiftly adapt the complex to their needs and to its new role as a representative seat of the occupation authorities of the General Government. The structural changes and new developments were realised by a specially appointed design office of the German company Franz Koettgen and Edgar Horstmann and under the personal supervision of Hans Frank. Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz also took part in them, joining the German company, at the suggestion of the authorities of the Polish underground, to watch over and protect the historic infrastructure of Wawel.

The discussion will focus not only on architectural interventions, their scope, and shape, as well as their political and ideological context, but also on the issue of the post-war and present use of this “dissonant heritage.”

When: May 24, 6:30 p.m.

Venue: International Cultural Centre, Rynek Główny 25, the Ravens Hall

The meeting with interpreting into the Polish Sign Language will be streamed on the ICC Facebook profile.


Professor Jacek Purchla — lecturer, one of the world's leading experts in the field of cultural heritage. His research focuses on urban development, social history, and art history of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the theory and protection of cultural heritage. Author of over 400 scientific publications, including numerous books. Founder and long-term director of the International Cultural Centre, where he works as the head of the Institute of European Heritage. In 2015–2020, he was the chairman of the Polish UNESCO Committee, and in 2016–2017, the chairman of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Professor Andrzej Betlej — Polish art historian, habilitated doctor of humanities. In 2012-2016, director of the Institute of Art History at the Jagiellonian University, in 2016-2020 director of the National Museum in Krakow, from January 3, 2020 director of the Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collections. His research interests focus primarily on early modern art, especially architecture and sculpture in the eastern territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Author and editor of numerous books and research papers. Member of the Art History Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the National Art History Committee, Chairman of the Council of the POLONIKA National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad, member of many museum councils and the Scientific Council of the PAU and PAN Library in Krakow. Deputy chairman of the Social Committee for the Restoration of Krakow's Monuments.

Dr. Michał Wiśniewski — graduate of the Institute of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and the Faculty of Architecture at the Krakow University of Technology. He works at the International Cultural Centre, involved in the implementation of post-graduate studies at the Academy of Heritage, as well as at the University of Economics in Krakow. Fulbright Fellow (Columbia University). Co-founder and board member of the Institute of Architecture Foundation. He is interested in the relationship between modern architecture and politics.

Dr. Monika Rydiger — art historian, art critic, curator. She specialises in the history of modern and contemporary art, with particular emphasis on sculpture and architecture. She works at the International Cultural Centre in Krakow. Author and co-author of numerous exhibitions, such as: “Hunting Down Modernism. The Prohibited Arts in the Third Reich” (2011), “Memory. Registers and Territories "(2013), “Makom. Dani Karavan. The Essence of the Place” (2015), “The Logic of the Local. Norwegian and Polish Contemporary Design” (2016). Curator of the exhibition “Unwanted Capital. Architecture and Urban Planning of Krakow during the German Occupation 1939–1945”. Member of the Polish section of AICA (International Association of Art Critics), vice-president of the Association of Art Historians, Krakow Branch. Author of texts on modern and contemporary art, with particular emphasis on sculpture and architecture.


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