Interview with Timothy Snyder this year’s winner of the Pro Historia Polonorum award

The Krakow Post: Why are you interested in Polish history?
Timothy Snyder, Yale University: It is a fresh, unexplored topic for non-Polish historians. You might think it is unusual, but in Yale I have four other colleagues who can read in Polish. It is really interesting.
Q: Why did you decide to write the biography of Henryk Jozefski?
A: I first learned about him when I was exploring the history of Polish-Ukrainian relations in Wolyn (an area in southeast Poland, near Ukraine, which at the beginning of the 20th Century was a part of Poland,). Then I discovered he is a person worth writing about ? he did a lot to restore good relations between Poles and Ukrainians after the Wolyn massacre (in 1943, Ukrainian nationalists wanted to remove Poles from Wolyn).
Q: Are you only interested in the 20th Century history of Poland, or other periods, too?
A: The older times are interesting too, especially when Poland, Lithuania and even today?s Belarus and Ukraine were united into one country. Its citizens were the noblemen of all those united countries. It is a sort of a different nationalism than today.
Q: What do you think about the conference?
A: I think it is a very good idea. We didn?t know each other before, apart from small circles maybe. But now we can exchange knowledge in between a sea of scholars. History doesn?t know any borders; it can?t be kept under the control of any nation.
Q: What is the difference between Polish and foreign historians, when it comes to Polish history?A: The point of view differs among older and younger scholars. The older are very positivistic, focusing on facts and describing them. This is valuable, but has its limits. The younger scientists are more open, they?ve seen more since 1989 (the fall of the ?Iron Curtain?). I think the position ?we give the facts and you interpret them? presented by the older generations is not good. The theory is not enough

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