Instytut Zachodni w Poznaniu

  • The Institute for Western Affairs in Poznań


The Institute for Western Affairs (Instytut Zachodni) in Poznań came into existence in 1944. It was created by a group of outstanding proffesors of Poznań University. It is an interdisciplinary scietific institution. Its research is focuses on the political, historical, sociological, economical and juridical problems of international relationships, especially Polish-German and European relations. In the immediate postwar period, one of the institute’s academic employees was the outstanding economic historian Jan Rutkowski. It was on his initiative that the institute launched in 1945 the publication of the series “Documenta Occupationis”. Another World War II scholar who worked at the Poznań institute was Karol Maria Pospieszalski, the author of source publications comprising documents constituting occupation-era law in Poland. Since its foundation, the institute has collected documents relating to the history of the Nazi occupation of Poland. From 1992, the West Institute workes in the organizational structure of Polish Ministry of the Foreign Affairs. The activity of the Institute was closely related with the experience of the World War II, the German occupation, and the changes of Poland's borders after 1945. Nowadays, the scietnific research is concerning the following subjects:

  • the German modern history,
  • Political, economical, social and cultural transformation in Germany,
  • A role of Germany in the international politics. The Polish-German relationships.
  • War and occupation 1939-1945,
  • Social and cultural transformation in the North and West territory of Poland.
  • Internal transformation of EU,
  • EU in the international relationships. The West Institute is one of the most important scientific institution in the area of German and European research.

Archival and Other Holdings

In the frame of the Institute works an Archive of World War II. This is a collection of documents, archival records and photographs are concerning of War in Poland and Europe. It possesses over 2500 collections and archival founds (about 5000 folders) and about 7000 photographs. The archive is composed of five sections:

  1. The German documents (960 archival founds). The biggest group are the documents of the following institutions: Reichsstatthalter Warthegau, Regierungsprasident - Posen, Reichsstatthalter Danzig - Westpreussen, Der Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD - Umwandererzentralstelle - Posen, Der Chef der Sicherhaitspolizei und des SD Einwandererzentralstelle, Reichsuniversitat - Posen, Oberlandesgericht - Posen, Reichsjustizministerium. There are also: the collection of Nazi propaganda leaflets, posters, and periodicals. These documents are concerning the German war actions in Poland and Western Europe, German national politics, every-day life and extermination of Polish and Jewish population, displacement of Poles and Jews, Nazi politics to the Polish culture, science, education, Catholic Church, and German colonization of Polish territory.

  2. Memories and diaries (480 archival founds): the documents of the German secret service in Poland before 1939, Nazi national politics, concentration and prisoners of war' camps, Polish independent conspiracy and the Warsaw Uprising.

  3. Records and testimonies of witnesses (180 founds). The documents are concerning the German minority in Poland before 1939, executions and pacifications in 1939-1945, extermination of Polish and Jewish population and the history of the Catholic Church in Poland.

  4. Photographs (160 archival founds): 90% of photographs are originated from German. They are concerning the German war actions in Poland and Europe, Poles, Germans, and Ukrainians every-day life the Third Reich and General Government, Soviet and German war crimes.

  5. Documents created after 1945 and newspaper's documentation (461 archival founds). There are concerning of the trials of the war-criminal, the War Compensation Office (Biuro Odszkodowań Wojennych, 1947), Polish West Society (Polski Związek Zachodni), and local courts.

The separate holdings are concerning of the loses of Polish intelligentsia during the World War II and conspiracy movement in Wielkopolska (1939-1945).

The West Institute holds a library. It possesses 110000 volumes, periodicals and special holdings. The collection deserving special attention are the memoires of Polish population in the North and West (post-German) territory (in three editions: 1957, 1966, 1970) and collection of over 5500 photographs of North and West Land from the end of 40's.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

A. Skibinska (ed.), chapter 5


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