What do we remember from our national past and why? What are the dangers of history being (mis-)appropriated by politicians? Past in the Present provides a critical analysis of recent disputes over Polish historiography. The author uses theories of collective memory as a guideline, and the Polish-German borderlands as his leitmotif. Western academic currents and long-standing (and often forgotten) Polish intellectual traditions serve as backdrop. Throughout his work – with topics ranging from Golo Mann and Stefan Czarnowski to the «other side of memory» and the «political cult of the fallen» – Traba advocates modernization and «polyphony» in the construction of a new Polish history.
Robert Traba is a Polish historian with broad interests in collective memory, applied history, and regional history, above all in the Polish-German borderlands. In 1990 he founded the Cultural Community Borussia in Olsztyn (Poland), whose focus is the regional history of Warmia/Masuria. Since 2006 he has been director of the Centre for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin.