Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Poland: Director of Polish Culture Institute in Berlin fired for ‘too much Jewish content’

The cultural manager and director of the polish culture institute in Berlin, Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska, was fired this past Tuesday from her position. According to the German left-leaning daily TAZ that broke the story, Poland’s right-wing PiS-led government called for her immediate departure due to her programming, which included “too much Jewish-themed content,” as Poland’s ambassador in Germany Andrzej Przyłębski had complained. 
The institute’s spokesperson, Marcin Zastrożny, confirmed to TAZ this past Friday that Wielga-Skolimowska, whose contract should have continued until summer 2017, has been dismissed “effective immediately.” 
Poland’s foreign ministry operates some 24 culture institutes around the world, tasked with promoting Polish art and culture abroad. Wielga-Skolimowska has helmed the Berlin branch since 2013, and her programming was considered thoughtful and serious by critics. 
But her ideas didn’t sit well with the cultural politics of the ruling national-conservative, right-wing party, who’s been in power since the October 2015 elections. In a recent internal assessment of the institute carried out by the foreign ministry, her work received a negative evaluation due to the focus on Jewish themes, and insufficient engagement with social media, the Berliner Zeitungreports. 
Earlier this year, Poland’s minister of culture, Piotr Gliński (PiS) called for an end to the “culture of shame” regarding WWII and the Holocaust, and Wielga-Skolimowska’s work has irked the government ever since.
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