Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Dr Krzysztof Persak

Fellow Krzysztof Persak

May 2017 - February 2018

Dr Krzysztof Persak has been research fellow in the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences (since 1996) and senior historian at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (since 2016). He was affiliated with the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, where he served as director of office of the President (2011-2016) and senior expert (2000-2011). During his academic career he was visiting lecturer in contemporary history at Collegium Civitas and Warsaw School of Social Psychology (2004-2012), visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C. (1999), and research associate for the Hoover Institution Archives (1998-2000), and for the NATO-Warsaw Pact Parallel History Project (1999-2001). Persak received his Ph.D. in history at the University of Warsaw in 2005. He also studied law and mathematics at the University of Warsaw.

Research project at the Kolleg

My project - "Polish model of dealing with the communist past: institutional and legal mechanisms of transitional justice" - is aimed at depicting and critically analyzing coming to terms with the Communist past in Poland after 1989. Although numerous authors had touched upon the subject of transitional justice in post-communist Europe, no monograph including comprehensive analysis of the Polish case has been published so far. After the fall of the Communist system, Eastern European societies were faced with the challenge of repairing the harm done to victims of repression and bringing the perpetrators to justice. None of the former Soviet bloc countries succeeded in building a coherent and comprehensive system of coming to terms with the Communist past, which would satisfy the civil sense of justice. However, Poland is among the countries of the region where the widest range of mechanisms of transitional justice was implemented. Polish legislation after 1989 had sought to address such issues as: opening the archives of the Communist period, lustration, prosecution of the perpetrators of Communist crimes, depriving the perpetrators of undue privileges, rehabilitation, compensation and the honorary rights for the victims of repression. The subject of the analysis will be genesis and evolution of legal solutions and the law enforcement institutions in the field of transitional justice. Particular attention will be paid to the Institute of National Remembrance as a key factor of the process. The basic research question is the effectiveness of the adopted legal regulations and the adequacy of the institutional tools applied to problems requiring solutions. Particular emphasis will be placed on identifying the advantages and disadvantages of the adopted solutions, focusing on failures and omissions committed by the Polish law-makers. An important element of the research will be analysis of legal judgments. The study will attempt at verifying the hypothesis of a gradual blunting of Polish instruments of transitional justice. The Polish case will be analyzed in comparative perspective, based on examples from other European post-communist countries.

Main areas of research

  • Recent political and social history of Poland
  • Communist power system, Communist party, Communist state security service
  • Polish-Soviet relations
  • Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust
  • Transitional justice


Krzysztof Persak, Odrodzenie harcerstwa w 1956 roku [The Rebirth of the Polish Scouting Movement in 1956] (Warszawa: Trio, 1996).

Krzysztof Persak, Sprawa Henryka Hollanda [Henryk Holland Affair] (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN & Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2006).


Paweł Machcewicz and Krzysztof Persak, eds, Wokół Jedwabnego [Jedwabne and Beyond], T. 1: Studia [vol. 1: Studies]; T. 2: Dokumenty [vol. 2: Documents] (Warszawa: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2002).

Krzysztof Persak and Łukasz Kamiński, eds., A Handbook of the Communist Security Apparatus in East Central Europe, 1944-1989 (Warsaw: Institute of National Remembrance, 2005).

Łukasz Kamiński, Krzysztof Persak, and Jens Gieseke, eds, Handbuch der kommunistischen Geheimdienste in Osteuropa 1944 - 1991, (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht, 2009).

Krzysztof Persak and Łukasz Kamiński, eds, Czekiści. Organy bezpieczeństwa w europejskich krajach bloku sowieckiego 1944-1989 [Chekists: State Security in European Countries of the Soviet Bloc, 1944-1989] (Warszawa: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2010).

Dariusz Stola and Krzysztof Persak, eds, PZPR jako machina władzy [Polish United Workers' Party as Machinery of Power] (Warszawa, Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN & Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2012).

Antoni Dudek, Aleksander Kochański, and Krzysztof Persak, eds, Centrum władzy. Protokoły posiedzeń kierownictwa PZPR. Wybór z lat 1949-1970 [The Centre of Power: Protocols of the PUWP Leadership Meetings: Selection from the years 1949-1970] (Warszawa, Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, 2000).

Jerzy Poksiński, Aleksander Kochański, and Krzysztof Persak, eds, Kierownictwo PPR i PZPR wobec wojska 1944-1956 [The Leadership of the Polish Workers' Party and the Polish United Workers' Party vis-à-vis the Polish Military, 1944-1956] (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, 2003).

Włodzimierz Janowski, Aleksander Kochański, and Krzysztof Persak, eds, Informator o strukturze i obsadzie personalnej centralnego aparatu PZPR 1948-1990 [Handbook on the Structure and Personnel of the Polish United Workers' Party Central Apparatus, 1948-1990]( Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, 2000).

Aleksander Kochański, Galina P. Muraszko, Albina F. Noskowa, Andrzej Paczkowski, and Krzysztof Persak, eds, Polska w dokumentach z archiwów rosyjskich 1949-1953 [Poland as Seen through Documents from Russian Archives, 1949-1953] (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, 2000).

Krzysztof Persak, ed., Komuniści wobec harcerstwa 1944-1950 [The Communists vis-à-vis the Polish Scouting Movement, 1944-1950] (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, 1998).

Andrzej Friszke, Krzysztof Persak, and Paweł Sowiński, eds, "Solidarność" od wewnątrz 1980-1981 ["Solidarity" Movement from Within, 1980-1981] (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN & Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2013).

Krzysztof Persak et al., eds, Od Piłsudskiego do Wałęsy. Studia z dziejów Polski w XX wieku [From Piłsudski to Wałęsa: Studies in Polish History in 20th Century] (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN & Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2008).

Krzysztof Persak and Paweł Machcewicz, eds, Polski wiek XX [Poland's 20th Century], T. 1: Dwudziestolecie [vol. 1: The Decades of 1920s and 1930s] (Warszawa: Bellona, 2009).

Krzysztof Persak and Paweł Machcewicz, eds, Polski wiek XX [Poland's 20th Century], T. 2: II wojna światowa [vol. 2: Second World War] (Warszawa: Bellona, 2010).

Krzysztof Persak and Paweł Machcewicz, eds, Polski wiek XX [Poland's 20th Century], T. 3: PRL od lipca 44 do grudnia 70 [The Polish Peoples' Republic, 1944-1970] (Warszawa: Bellona, 2010).

Krzysztof Persak and Paweł Machcewicz, eds, Polski wiek XX [Poland's 20th Century], T. 4: PRL od grudnia 70 do czerwca 89 [Polish Peoples' Republic, 1970-1989] (Warszawa: Bellona, 2011).


Krzysztof Persak, 'Jedwabne before the Court. Poland's Justice and the Jedwabne Massacre - Investigations and Court Proceedings, 1947-1974', East European Politics and Societies 25, no. 3 (2011): 410-432 [reprinted in: The Holocaust in Occupied Poland: New Findings and New Interpretations, edited by Jan T. Gross (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2012), 29-54].

Krzysztof Persak, 'Mutations et usage public de l'historiographie polonaise de la seconde moitié du XXe siècle', in Archives et histoire dans le sociétés postcommunistes, edited by Sonia Combe et al. (Paris: La Découverte/BDIC, 2009), 301-317.

Krzysztof Persak, 'Le crime de Jedwabne: effacer et retrouver ses traces après la guerre', in Juifs et Polonais 1939-2008, edited by Jean-Charles Szurek and Annette Wieviorka (Paris: Albin Michel, 2009), 461-480.

Krzysztof Persak, 'The Polish-Soviet Confrontation in 1956 and the Attempted Soviet Military Intervention in Poland', Europe-Asia Studies 58, no. 8 (2006): 1285-1310 [reprinted in: Challenging Communism in Eastern Europe: 1956 and its Legacy, edited by Terry Cox (London & New York: Routledge, 2008), 97-122].

Krzysztof Persak, 'Stalin As Editor: The Soviet Dictator's Secret Changes to the Polish Constitution of 1952', Cold War International History Project Bulletin, 11 (1998): 149-154.

Krzysztof Persak, 'Lengyel források Sztálin lengyelországi politikájáról' [Polish Sources on Stalin's Foreign Policy], Évkönyv. Az 1956-os Magyar Forradalom Történetének Dokumentációs és Kutatóintézete-Közalapítvány/Yearbook. The Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution 6 (1998): 21-36.

Krzysztof Persak, 'Polsko-činské rozhovory v lednu 1957' [The Sino-Polish Talks in January 1957], Soudobé Dějiny/Contemporary History 2 (1997): 338-366.


Review of Mirosław Tryczyk, Miasta śmierci: Sąsiedzkie pogromy Żydów [Towns of Death: Neighbours' Pogroms of Jews] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo RM, 2015), in Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materiały/Holocaust Studies and Materials 12 (2016): 357-374.

Review of Andrzej Friszke, Anatomia buntu. Kuroń, Modzelewski i komandosi [Anatomy of the Revolt: Kuroń, Modzelewski, and the 'Commandos'] (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak 2010), in Wolność i Solidarność. Studia z Dziejów Opozycji wobec Komunizmu i Dyktatury/Freedom and Solidarity: Studies in the History of Opposition to Communism and Dictatorship 2 (2011): 205-210.

The full list of publications can be found here: