Fundacja Ośrodka KARTA
ul. Narbutta 29
PL - 02-536 Warsaw
Homepage KARTA Centre: http://www.karta.org.pl/
Homepage "History at hand": http://historiabliska.pl/
About the organisation
The KARTA Center came into being in 1982 after the declaration of the conventions of war as an underground opposition centre in association with the independent historical quarterly KARTA. It is an independent organisation for the documentation and popularisation of Polish and Eastern European history in the 20th century. Head of the organisation since its beginning is Zbigniew Gluza. Since 1990 the KARTA Centre is officially working as a foundation, hosting also an archive of personal documents such as diaries, letters, pictures etc., among them materials about the inhabitants of the former Eastern parts of Poland.
Many long existing projects, initiatives and activities in the field of history research and remembering are now being organised and conceptualised under the roof of the KARTA Centre. An electronic data base has been developed registering those Polish citizens that were prosecuted under the Stalinist regime. The verified names are published in co-operation with Memorial, Russia. KARTA organises conferences and workshops as well as exhibitions and publications.
The history competition
The Batory Foundation and the KARTA Centre decided to initiate an educational program entitled "History at Hand" ("Historia Bliska"), whose main element was to be an historical competition for young people. The idea for an historical competition for young people followed the restoration of freedom and independence in 1989. It was stimulated by the notion that while history was pressed into the service of political demagoguery of all persuasions, there was an evident lack of interest within society at large for the truth about the not-so-distant past. The propagation of historical knowledge, especially among young people - the voters of tomorrow - was a much needed social task. The problem was how to encourage these young people to learn about their history, to awaken their critical faculties, and help them to recognise the historical contexts in which they live in terms of social change, tradition, and culture.
The competition addresses secondary school pupils (in the 15-19 age range). This was dictated by the structure of the Polish education system because primary school children (7-14) would require a completely different assessment set up. In addition, there was the danger that we would be inundated with a volume of entries that would exceed our organisational resources.
The submission form is up to the author: e.g. a set of documents regarding a given person with comments by the author, interview with a witness (or witnesses) recorded and written down, a set of photographs with a description by the author, an amateur video film, a CD-presentation, an exhibition, a 'radio' broadcast or various mixed forms. Research works should be original, i.e. they may not reproduce or compile material from existing studies. There is not page or size limit. Works may be prepared by a single student or by a group of students, either under the guidance of a school teacher, or another adult or without any help.
There is an auxiliary jury (KARTA staff), a nomination jury (eight professional historians) and the final jury (four outstanding personalities in the field of history). KARTA is sufficiently strong and prestigious to hold a nation-wide competition, but lacks the financial and human resources to organise local judges' panels. However, to achieve a fair assessment of the entries without making undue demands on the time constraints of the distinguished historians who served on the assessment panel, KARTA decided to organise a three-tier assessment system, sorting the entries according to strictly defined criteria tabulated in standardised assessment forms (exact subject, historical process, geographical region, utilisation of sources, form, methods and presence of a commentary).
Every year the Stefan Batory Foundation assigns the total amount of 66,000 PLN (€ 16,680) for the awards. It depends on the jury how many and what kind of prizes will be given out. The jury grants individual and group awards - three monetary prizes and additional awards such as record players, cameras, books, etc. The first prize for an individual might be 2,000 PLN, or 6,000 PLN or a computer for a team. The additional award might be 600 PLN or a camera for an individual, or 200 PLN or a record player for each member of a group. There are special (monetary) prizes for tutors as well. The awards ceremony takes place in the biggest and most beautiful hall of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. All awarded students and their tutors are invited to the ceremony. The awards are handed out by the members of the jury.