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Cracow. Forced entrance to the illegal Museum of Independence Deed in Oleanders. They take souvenirs of Piłsudski

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The door was opened by a locksmith, emotions were cooled down by the policemen, even the voivode came to the place with an appeal for a peaceful settlement of the matter. Officials and museologists managed to “take back” the collections of the illegal Museum of the Independence Deed in Krakow’s Oleanders. Although the building belongs to the city, and by the decision of the Minister of Culture, the memorabilia of Józef Piłsudski are to be secured by the employees of the National Museum, the head of the Polish Legionnaires’ Union did not want to give up. But he had no choice.

On Thursday morning, officials of the Małopolska province governor and the National Museum in Krakow forcibly entered the illegal Museum of the Independence Deed in Krakow’s Oleanders. There, they secure the collections, which are now to be inventoried and possibly protected in terms of conservation. Order was kept in check by the police, because officials have been meeting resistance from the Union of Polish Legionnaires for years, which does not want to part with either the museum exhibits or the building belonging to the city.

The collections in the building include memorabilia of Józef Piłsudski and his legions – for example, uniforms, weapons and decorations, as well as documents and works of art.

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After taking over the collection, experts from the National Museum in Krakow will carry out a conservation inspection of the items.

Krystian Waksmundzki talks with the voivode of Lesser Poland, Łukasz KmitaKrakow City Hall

Forced opening of the museum door. The governor appealed for a peaceful settlement of the matter

The takeover of the collection at Krakow’s Oleanders is the result of the decision of the Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński of 2020, which banned the further operation of the Museum of the Independence Deed. For nearly three consecutive years, however, the memorabilia were still under the supervision of Waksmundzki’s people. The delay in the entry into force of the minister’s decision was justified by the pandemic coronavirus.

In mid-March, the voivode of Lesser Poland, representing the minister of culture in this matter, issued a decision in which he called on the legionnaires’ union to voluntarily hand over museum exhibits and cease activity. – The union had time for this on Tuesday, April 11, until 9 o’clock. However, the activists did not respond to the call, so on Thursday we went to the place to pick up the harvest – informed us the spokeswoman for the Małopolska voivode, Joanna Paździo.

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Officials and employees of the National Museum in Krakow, however, rebounded from closed doors. Therefore, a locksmith was called to the place, who, assisted by policemen, opened the entrance to the building. However, even after forcefully opening the door, Waksmundzki protested against securing the collections. A woman came to the scene and got into a discussion with the police. “My grandfather was a general and built this,” she shouted, pointing at the building.

Krakow, Oleandry. “Taking back” the Museum of Armed Deed from the hands of “legionnaires”Krakow City Hall

– The voivode of Lesser Poland, Łukasz Kmita, intervened, who came to the place, thanked Krystian Waksmundzki for his work and asked for a peaceful settlement of the matter – Katarzyna Bik, spokeswoman for the National Museum in Krakow, informed us.

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Krakow, Oleandry. “Taking back” the Museum of Armed Deed from the hands of “legionnaires”Krakow City Hall

They entered after forcibly opening the door

Finally, employees of the National Museum in Krakow managed to enter the building. A spokeswoman for the institution points out that the museum is not a party to this case. – Our employees are to secure the harvest, which will come to us as a deposit. The items will be examined and possibly secured in terms of conservation, Bik noted in an interview with tvn24.pl.

As we managed to find out, the documents of the ministry indicate that at this stage it may be difficult to determine the legal status of individual museum exhibits. This means that it is not known who actually owns the collections.

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As the Ministry of Culture informed in 2020, “due to the social interest, which is protection against the threat of destruction or theft of collections” and “due to the need to ensure the safety of visitors”, the decision to ban further museum activities was made immediately enforceable.

Earlier, in 2018, experts from the ministry carried out an inspection of the building, which revealed a number of serious shortcomings. It was, among others, on its basis that Gliński later banned the Museum of the Independence Deed. Attempts were made to reach an agreement with the “legionnaires”, but Krystian Waksmundzki did not sign the contracts proposed by the ministry and the National Museum in Krakow.

In the future, as the Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński informed in 2021, the Museum of the Independence Deed in Oleanders is to become a branch of the National Museum in Krakow.

Krakow, Oleandry. “Taking back” the Museum of Armed Deed from the hands of “legionnaires”Krakow City Hall

The city is fighting to get the building back

A separate battle with the Union of Polish Legionnaires is fought in the court of the Krakow magistrate. Officials are demanding regaining control over the building occupied by Krystian Waksmundzki’s group. Although it is the commune that owns the House of Józef Piłsudski (as the historic building is called), the “legionnaires” wanted to take it over by usucaption.

The city issued a statement on Thursday, in which it was noted that despite the court’s verdict, the Union of Polish Legionnaires still did not issue the house to them. Józef Piłsudski at Oleanders. “The union also did not transfer the collections, which, in accordance with the ministerial recommendations, should be placed under the care of the National Museum in Krakow” – we read in the communiqué.

In 2019, the District Court in Kraków decided that the union did not have the right to usucaption. A year later, a non-final judgment was issued in the district court regarding the transfer of the building to the city.

“However, in April 2020, the Union sued the city for PLN 7.5 million for the promotion of Krakow. Due to the lack of a legal basis for such a claim, the representative of the Union referred to the article on unjust enrichment, arguing that the city was enriched thanks to the savings resulting from this that it was the Union that maintained the building at Aleja 3 Maja 7 and ran the Museum of the Independence Deed in it. By the judgment of September 21, 2021, the court dismissed the action of the Union of Polish Legionnaires against the municipality of Krakow, “the magistrate informed.

“Legionaries” appealed against this verdict, but the date of the appeal hearing has not been set to this day.

Main photo source: Krakow City Hall



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