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Didactic Commentary: Krakow – Communism 1945-1956 - History of Everyday Life

The chapter describes the everyday life of Kraków and Nowa Huta inhabitants from the end of the war till 1956.

1. The subject "Krakow – Communism 1945-1956 - History of Everyday Life" consists of four parts:

- The influence of the political situation on daily life of citizens: The main text compares the everyday life of the inhabitants of “old” Kraków to the lives of Nowa Huta citizens. Different ways of functioning of these initially separate urban organisms in the post war times are emphasised. “Old” Kraków is the “Bastion of Reaction” and the aim of ruthless attacks by the new regime. Nowa Huta is a model socialist city – the pride and joy of the new government.

- Flat building and construction: presents the way in which the new city was built, and the living conditions created there for its inhabitants constituting a rather specific social group.

- Stakhanovites: heroes of Nowa Huta. The chapter presents three figures: the main architect of Nowa Huta, and two Stakhanovites. The constructors’ and builders’ attitudes towards the new reality are shown.

- Mass culture: on one hand, it depicts the fight of the regime against cultural life in Kraków. On the other hand, it shows the development of the culture-forming institutions established by the authorities for Nowa Huta citizens in oder to accelerate their assimilation in the new environment.

The texts show the reasons behind the building of Nowa Huta and depict adaptation problems of the new inhabitants coming from the rural regions in the new, urban environment. Using the key terms such as socialism, migration, ZMP, etc., students should be able to point out the fundamental aims and forms of the government’s activities and influences. The statistical data facilitates the better understanding of the topic, and should be applied during the analysis of the origin and education of the newcomers. 

Working with the texts and the source materials, students should broaden their knowledge of daily life in post war Poland and develop the ability of text interpretation and data analysis. The exercises differ in level, and may be applied, as appropriate, to students’ skills and requirements. Students may work in groups or individually. Some of the presented questions and tasks refer directly to the texts and source materials, some are based on the analysis of the statistical data.

3. Level of difficulty:

The task belonging to the “Flat building and construction” chapter is more difficult and requires more knowledge of the historical realities of the time. Task 3 “Influence of the political situation on the life of citizens” requires students to have some knowledge on the history of other countries and contemporary world. In the chapter “Mass culture,”  students are supposed to interview with a witness of communistic times.

3. Interesting links: