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War in Ukraine. The Polish Ministry of Culture refused to help save Ukrainian works of art? The resort denies

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The Polish Ministry of Culture was to refuse to help Ukraine “in developing a plan and securing cultural property” – this message is spreading in social media. It’s not real. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage denies “this extremely disgusting fake news”.

“Ukraine asked 7 countries for help in developing a plan and securing cultural property, including works of art. The Polish Ministry of Culture was the only one who categorically refused,” a user who identified himself as a doctoral student of art history at La Sapienza University of Rome wrote on Twitter on February 8. Further in the thread, he wrote: “I supervise Art Galleries. I guide tours in Rome. Representing the Italian Ministry of Culture with 3 people, we are working in Lviv, together with ministerial delegations of the other 5 countries and representatives of the Ukrainian government, on creating a ‘bridge’ that will be used to export masterpieces , to secure foreign warehouses” (original spelling of the description and all tweets).

Fake message posted on Twitter on February 8, 2023Twitter

“Despite refusing to help, the Polish government also blocked the possibility of transit of Ukrainian cultural goods through its territory. This makes it difficult to save them from being plundered by Russia. Well done Glinski, piz**o!” – he stated in the next entry. “The argument was the lack of storage space that would meet the requirements set by the monument conservator” – he continued. “According to the Ukrainian side, it is about the lack of appropriate storage space that meets the parameters set by the monument conservator. Unbelievable nonsense” – added author of the thread, already in discussion with other twitterers.

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The information aroused the interest of Internet users. Individual entries about the Polish Ministry of Culture were displayed from 28,000. to over 90,000 times. Some users commented: “I keep my fingers crossed for the mission. What a crap”; “Culture is an unknown word for the government…”; “Shame Bottom”; “Reason given?”; “Why did it refuse?”

False information spread on TwitterTwitter

This post was followed by another with a similar message. However, some Internet users asked about the source: “Where did this information come from?”; “Yes, I will ask for the source, because it is average compared to the current information”; “And where does this information come from? I’m looking for it and I can’t find it anywhere. Leaning on Poles in the context of Ukrainians has a poor chance of breaking through.”

On February 9, in response to a popular thread, Katarzyna Zalasińska, director of the National Heritage Institute, she wrote on Twitter: “All the information provided here is completely untrue. It’s good to see after the comments that Poles are better and better prepared for disinformation activities. Regards – Help Center for Culture in Ukraine.”

And she was right, because the information spread on social media seems to be deliberate disinformation. It is mainly provided by anonymous users.

Ministry of Culture: “extremely disgusting fake news”

We asked the Polish and Ukrainian ministries of culture for a comment on the information about the alleged refusal to help the Ukrainian side and the alleged blocking by our government of the transit of Ukrainian cultural goods through the territory of Poland.

“The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage strongly denies this extremely disgusting fake news regarding the alleged refusal to support the evacuation of Ukrainian cultural assets” – replied Anna Pawłowska-Pojawa, director of the Information Center of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. “From the very beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Piotr Gliński, has been in constant contact with the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Mr. Oleksandr Tkachenko, and the representatives of the ministry cooperate directly with their Ukrainian counterparts. The last meeting of the ministers took place on 20th Januaryand the meeting of Minister Gliński with the Ukrainian ambassador to Poland – less than a week ago” – she added.

Information on the support provided by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and its institutions to the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture can be found at website of the ministry. In November 2022, tvn24.pl portal informativeHow, thanks to the cooperation of Polish and Ukrainian museologists, a collection of 34 paintings by Jacek Malczewski from the Lviv National Art Gallery found shelter in Poland.

Anna Pawłowska-Pojawa writes that the first transport with help for Ukrainian cultural institutions reached Lviv on March 10, 2022 (the Russian invasion began on February 24), and activities in the field of securing cultural and heritage assets in Ukraine are carried out by, among others, Center for Aid for Culture in Ukraine and the National Institute of Cultural Heritage Abroad “Polonika”. “In total, by the end of 2022, the Center, on behalf of numerous institutions of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage (museums, archives, libraries, specialist institutions) and on its own, handed over to the Ukrainian side over 800 pallets with security materials intended, among others, for internal translocation” – informs the director of the Center of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

Referring to the allegations regarding the alleged blocking of the transit of Ukrainian cultural goods through the territory of Poland, he explains: “It is also difficult not to see the absurdity of accusations of blocking the lawful export or transport of works from Ukraine in the face of the fact that works from Ukrainian collections are presented at exhibitions in Polish cultural institutions – including the exhibition ‘I’m going into the world and I’m lasting’ at the National Museum in Poznań, at the exhibition ‘Love and Duty. The January Uprising 1863’ at the Royal Castle in Warsaw and finally at the exhibition ‘Ukraine. Under a Different Sky’ ‘ at the Center for Contemporary Art – Ujazdowski Castle”. However, he gives examples of Ukrainian works of art that are exhibited in Poland, he does not refer to the situation described by the twitter user, i.e. the transit of Ukrainian cultural goods through Poland in order to place them in “safe warehouses”. But we have not been able to confirm the veracity of this Internet user’s thesis.

Until the publication of the article, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture did not answer our questions. We contacted a Twitter user who posted a high-profile thread. In a private message, we asked about the source of information and the list of activities in which the Polish Ministry of Culture was supposed to refuse to help. On February 9, he wrote back: “I will allow myself to answer your questions after the meeting of the international team in which I am participating in Lviv is over. I will return to you this evening. Thank you in advance for your interest and taking up the subject.” But he didn’t write back, and on February 10, the profile was deleted.

Author:Gabriela Sieczkowska

Main photo source: PAP

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