Dr. Krzysztof Persak

Curriculum Vitae

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