The organization’s interdisciplinary profile combines human and social sciences with economics. This Poznan-based institution has a sizable library featuring specialized literature, periodicals, daily press and archive materials.
The origins of the Institute for Western Affairs established in the Autumn of 1944 tie closely to Poland’s experience of World War II during the German occupation. These events left a tragic mark on Polish-German relations heavily influencing the fate of the entire European Continent. The westward shift of Poland’s borders upon the end of the War created demand for a scholarly review of the grave issues and threats that arose in connection with the new territorial layout. As a response, a team of professors of the University of Poznan (an institution which had existed even before the War) as well as a group of social and political activists led by prof. Zygmunt Wojciechowski, an acclaimed and trusted academic, came up with the initiative of establishing a research institution in Poznan to address German issues and investigate the troubled history of neighborly relations between Poland and Germany.
The idea to set up a specialized institution combining research and advisory responsibilities was proposed as early as the second half of 1943 by the underground organization“Ojczyzna” (“Homeland”) with links to the Government Delegation for Poland. It was then that the institution’s name, the Institute for Western Affairs, was first mentioned along with the name of its periodical Przeglad Zachodni. A special document was drawn up in December 1944 to outline the Institute’s research range and organizational structure. Its drafting is considered to have marked the organization’s official establishment.
The first Head of the Institute for Western Affairs, established officially on February 27, 1945 with a charter adopted on August 6, 1945, was the initiator of its formation, prof. Wojciechowski, an outstanding expert on German affairs. His successors included some of the most remarkable names in the humanities, including, in particular, Professors Gerard Labuda, Zdzisław Kaczmarczyk, Władysław Markiewicz, Lech Trzeciakowski, Antoni Czubinski and Anna Wolff-Poweska.
Originally house in an Art Nouveau tenement building at ul. Chełmonskiego 1, the Institute for Western Affairs was soon transferred to a temporary location in the Old Market Square (where some of its staff acquired the Town Scale building and the Merchant Houses) only to find a more permanent venue in the Działynski Palace. Since 1998, the Institute has had its own building: a magnificent facility at ul. Mostowa which houses its vast library holdings, including an invaluable archive. Up until 2013, the Institute for Western Affairs was overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now replaced by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
The Institute’s formation coincided with the establishment of its library which has succeeded in amassing, over its seven decades in operation, enormous holdings of specialized literature relating to German studies, Polish and world history, European and international relations, sociology, law and economics. In total, the Institute’s library’s holdings comprise 110,000 titles of various kinds. They include unique archive items and countless press issues. These vast archive and library collections, including one of the country’s largest collection of literature on Germany, attract scores of researchers, young aspiring scientists, journalists and regular readers drawn to the Institute by their passions, interests and needs.
In existence since 1945, the Publishing House of the Institute for Western Affairs has put out more than 400 books, 350 issues of the Przeglad Zachodni and dozens of other periodic and one-off publications. Recognized and esteemed by scholars at home and abroad, the Publishing House publishes works by the Institute’s staff as well as authors from other Polish and foreign research institutions.
While the Institute for Western Affairs has made invaluable contributions to the development of Polish science, including German studies, it has maintained equally strong links with Poznan and its local community where it has pursued its mission of spreading knowledge and initiating major scientific and cultural events. The Institute’s publications developed by its research team, the Polish and foreign guests invited into the Institute as well as conferences and debates on essential and topical issues, have all become an integral part of Poznan’s scholarly landscape.
The valuable support for the Institute is the Association of the Institute for Western Affairs. It has been created by outstanding Polish scholars, intellectuals, businessmen and politicians. It works actively to spread knowledge about the history and present-day of Germany, Polish-German relations and the European integration. It also promotes the achievements of the Institute for Western Affairs and supports its research and publishing activity. The Association of the Institute for Western Affairs established the Regional Centre for International Debates which is responsible for extensive information, education and training activities among various groups of the community in Poznan and in the Wielkopolska region.
A special website of the Jubilee: 70th anniversary of the Institute for Western Affairs
Photo © the Institute for Western Affairs
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