Promotion of the new edition of 485 days at Majdanek
On June 20, 2018, in the Voivodeship Public Library of Hieronim Łopaciński in Lublin, we promoted a new edition of Jerzy Kwiatkowski's memoirs.
Ewa Hadrian from the Voivodeship Public Library of Hieronim Łopaciński in Lublin led the meeting. The book was presented by Wojciech Lenarczyk, the scholar editor of 485 days at Majdanek and the staff member of the Research Department of the State Museum at Majdanek, and Dorota Niedziałkowska, the linguistic editor of 485 days at Majdanek, the employee of the Exhibition Department. Wojciech Lenarczyk recreated Jerzy Kwiatkowski’s biography and described the circumstances of the creation and edition of 485 days at Majdanek. He also explained why this prisoner’s story has a special meaning for the history of the German concentration camp at Majdanek. Kwiatkowski was not only an educated man, who spoke German fluently, but also had an excellent sense of observation and objectivity. Dorota Niedziałkowska described editorial aspects of the work on the book – beginning with the number and the storage location of the memoirs, to the choice of reason for editing.
The speeches of editors were accompanied by a multimedia presentation which included the illustrations from the book and unknown pictures from Kwiatkowski family album kept in the archives of Hoover Institution. We also prepared an exhibition of the archives from the collections of the State Museum at Majdanek, which included, among other things, the manuscript of post-war testimony by Kwiatkowski, two reports of the camp’s relation, the first copy with the author's autograph and Kwiatkowski's correspondence with the Museum, and materials for the second edition.
Apart from the editors of the book, the guests took the floor. Dr Hab. Marek Sioma (from the Department of Contemporary History UMCS) described numerous problems of historians – sources’ editors. He noticed that the new edition of the State Museum at Majdanek assumes a wide group of recipients; therefore it is of popular scientific interest. Maciej Sobieraj (IPN - The Institute of National Remembrance) looked at the various dimensions of censorship in the book. In addition to peer censorship for the personal reasons (members of the Society for the Protection of Majdanek, former prisoners, consulted the content and told Kwiatkowski about their stories), he spoke about the self-censorship and institutional censorship. Dr Hab. Dariusz Pachocki (from the Department of Textology and Editing of the Catholic University of Lublin) said that the publisher's assumptions to make the first version of 1945 the basis of the publication (without interference from the colleagues, publishers and the author himself, who wanted to honor the meritorious in the post-war life of his colleagues) seems the most accurate to him. He considered the decision to keep the author's harsh language bold. Maria Wiśnioch-Filo (The Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society guide) emphasized the incredible importance of Kwiatkowski's account, which is the encyclopedia of knowledge about Majdanek, in educational work.