The aim of the digital Documentation Centre for the Culture and History of Poles is to investigate and document the traces and influences of Polish life in Germany and to showcase them in the Internet portal “Porta Polonica”. It is also intended to be a forum for Poles living in Germany. It creates a digital platform for networking and for exchanging information and, in the process, works to actively contribute to the culture of remembrance.
The establishing of the Documentation Centre can be traced back to a Round Table initiative on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the German-Polish friendship treaty in 2011 and is financed by the Federal Government as a result of a resolution passed by the German Federal Parliament. The sponsorship was transferred to the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL) and the Documentation Centre took up residence in the Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Heritage, Hannover colliery, in Bochum. The Union of Poles in Germany was chosen as the project partner. The Documentation Centre commenced its operations in 2013.
One important element of the considerations at the time and of the preceding feasibility study was to install Porta Polonica’s head office in the historical Polish house “Dom Polski”, Am Kortländer 6 in Bochum, which is subject to a conservation order and in which the national head office of the Union of Poles is located. The symbolic house is part of the historical street along the former Klosterstraße. Around 100 years ago, this was the bustling centre of Polish life whose reputation was known well beyond Bochum’s boundaries. Today, the “Bochumer Schmiede” (Kuźnia Bochumska) is still cited as an example of a strong organisation of the Polish diaspora.
Irrespective of the outstanding importance of the “Dom Polski” as a place of remembrance for Poles in Germany, Porta Polonica’s rapid development in terms of personnel and functionality meant that the space requirements defined in 2012 needed to be re-examined and in the medium and long term the rooms Am Kortländer 6 will no longer be adequate, even with the renovation measures to be financed by the Federal Government and the State of NRW. For this reason, new opportunities for housing the Document Centre in the future are now being explored by the appropriate committees. The Documentation Centre is currently located in the historical workers’ houses at the Hanover colliery in Bochum.
Regardless of the intention to separate Porta Polonica and “Dom Polski”, the house Am Kortländer will be very important to the content creation work carried out by the Documentation Centre. “Dom Polski”, as an outstanding place of remembrance for the Polish diaspora in Germany, will continue to play a central role in the research work conducted by the Documentation Centre.
Former Klosterstraße in Bochum,
© Porta Polonica
Today Am Kortländer in Bochum
© Porta Polonica