In most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, oral history was initiated in the circles of dissidents in the 1980s. Memories of the politically marginalised or persecuted citizens were the source of insights into uncensored versions of recent past. Therefore the term “a witness to history” is central to the “civic historiography”, which has been developed in Poland. After the fall of communism, the civic participation in the archiving, educating and researching has been institutionalised and identifies itself as oral history. The article presents epistemological and ethical paradoxes of the concept of “a witness to history” in the light of social and linguistic practice, as well as its historiographical and political usage. Examples of major oral history projects actively present in the public space and state and public institutions, influencing oral history practice in Poland, are presented. In the analysis of such institutions as the Warsaw Uprising Museum or the Institute of National Memory, the author focuses on their definition of “a witness to history” and places their practices in the context of the politics of memory implemented in Poland since 2005. Apart from the abovementioned powerful social players in the serious game of memory, knowledge and imagination, there are, however, other social actors contributing to the notion of oral history and creating an alternative vision of its tasks. The author sketches two modes of the development of oral history in Poland – academic and public oral history – pointing at the concepts of ‘narrator’ and ‘a witness to history’, and briefly summarises the main problems of contemporary dominant practice. Artiklis tutvustatakse Poola suulise ajaloo põhilisi kujunemissuundi 1980. aastatest alates kuni tänapäevani. Käsitletakse suulise ajaloo ilmnemise institutsionaalseid, poliitilisi ja sotsiaalseid kontekste olukorras, kus suulise ajaloo projektide keskseks kontseptsiooniks on olnud ajaloo tunnistaja. Artiklis tõstatatakse küsimus selle kontseptsiooni epistemoloogilistest ja eetilistest probleemidest, mis pärinevad ajajärgust, mil suuline ajalugu hakkas Poolas kodanikuõpetuse historiograafia (avaliku ajaloo) raames välja kujunema.
free text keywords: oral history, Poland, politics of memory, public history, a witness to history, ajaloo tunnistaja, avalik (ametlik) ajalugu, mälupoliitika, Poola, suuline ajalugu, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, oral history, Poland, politics of memory, public history, a witness to history, Politics of memory, Anthropology, Public history, History, Oral history, lcsh:Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology, lcsh:GN301-674