The Story Behind the Independence March in Warsaw

A few days ago we posted a video about last year’s independence march in Warsaw. For any readers who didn’t see it earlier, the same video is embedded at the end of this post.

Several readers wrote to ask for more context about the march. What was the significance of the occasion? Did it have anything to do with anti-EU sentiments?

I asked Green Infidel to write a follow-up report, and the result is below.

Warsaw: Independence March

The Story Behind the Independence March in Warsaw
by Green Infidel

The official purpose of the march, was to commemorate anniversary of Poland’s independence on November 11, 1918, and specifically one of the two main leaders of the fight for independence, Roman Dmowski — a Polish nationalist during the inter-war period. For many years, it has taken place on 11 November for this reason, ending at Dmowski’s statue. And for a long time, it has faced an “anti-fascist” blockade by those insisting that the march is fascist.

For the past two years however, the march organisers tried to move into the mainstream by inviting regional folk groups, veterans and politicians such as Janusz Korwin-Mikke, respected across the political spectrum, but with radical socially-conservative, economically liberal ideas which appealed especially to youth and students.

However this was not enough for the leftists opposing the march, who became even more determined to pin the “fascist” label on anyone going. Once the media (especially Gazeta Wyborcza, the biggest Polish newspaper, recently on the Guardian website aligned with other “intellectual left” papers such as The Guardian, Le Monde and El Pais) warned about anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas present at the march, and the “anti-fascists” invited their notorious Antifa friends from Germany, the interest in the march grew — as many people resent Gazeta Wyborcza’s bias and manipulation, and even more the idea of left-wing thugs from Germany coming to call others “fascist”, and disrupt Poland’s independence day (celebrating independence from, among others, Germany).

Many Facebook status messages about the march revolved around “the Germans coming to Warsaw”. And at the march, the first question of some of those who I went with was “where are the Germans?” (I was also thinking this same question!)

However, I think there are also wider reasons for the large attendance. In the two years since the Smolensk crash in April 2010, the atmosphere has become increasingly polarised. On the one hand are the smooth, media-savvy, pro-Western, secular, pro-European liberals (currently in government). Many of them are ashamed of Poland’s traditional identity and think it should become like Western countries.

On the other hand are the traditional, patriotic, religious, anti-EU, anti-Communist conservatives. They believe that people connected to the Communist regime still dominate from behind the scenes (e.g. in the police, secret services, and in much of the media), and that the resulting corruption is holding Poland back, and that political correctness is weakening its cultural identity. They are also despised by the “modernisers”, who see them as “loons”, “backward people” and “religious fanatics” (even though many of them are non-religious or atheist).

The march became a rallying point for the second camp against the first, reflected in some of the slogans chanted: “Down with Communism”, “God, Honour, Fatherland” (a slogan of Polish soldiers during WW2) and — perhaps with the likes of Antifa in mind — “once with the hammer, once with the sickle, hit the red horde” (rhymes better in Polish!).

However in spite of the masses of religious symbols also on display, I didn’t see one anti-Semitic slogan present, let alone “Nazi” symbol, as the papers warned… although least one black disabled student was among those who attended.

If you watch the very end of the original (Polish) video of the march that Vlad subtitled, you will see that at the end there are young teenagers/children, and no police protection. In stark contrast to the leftist blockade, protected by the police on all four sides. After the march, I learned that leftists did at one point attack, and threw rocks at the marchers. However, in the absence of any police, supporters of Legia Warsaw football club got together to provide “protection”, and confronted the leftists. Very quickly the threat subsided, and no leftists got close to the march again.

A note on the background music, I found it’s called “Heart of Courage” by the group Two Steps from Hell.

This is only a brief summary of a day that for me was a watershed moment, showing the scale of media manipulation that really existed.

11.11.11 Independence March in Warsaw:

10 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Independence March in Warsaw

  1. @Green Infidel
    Re: “On the other hand are the traditional, patriotic, religious, anti-EU, anti-Communist conservatives.”
    You do not quite exhaust that common denominator. You cannot ommit in an account like this that Roman Dmowski was, repeat, was, a fascist, with all the accoutrements of fascism i.e. burning hatred of Jews, xenophobia against white Christian (but non-Catholic) minorities that had been living in Poland by then for 600 years, and so on. Therefore, however peaceful, conservative, religious and anti-communist the demonstration, its raison d’etre was to honor the greatest fascist perhaps in all of Polish history. People who doubt this may check it easily per the relevant entry in Wikipedia, which is a fair assessment of Dmowski.

    I have some personal interest in this matter as my father was a Polish Jew, and as a student at Lwow University he was hounded by Dmowski followers and beaten with clubs. In fact, if he hadn’t been, and if my mother, who was a Catholic Slav, didn’t witness this and other such acts of enlightened “conservatism” by fascist Polish Dmowski yokels (the proper word is “chamy”) even before she witnessed what happened in WWII, she probably would never have married my father and I wouldn’t be here to write this.

    And that brings me to the point how harmful it is for all of the Central-European ethnocentric, anti-EU, anti-communism movements to identify with their fascist-nationalist predecessors. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania are in the same boat on this, and should feel quite uncomfortable about sharing it with Croatia too, where “conservatives” venerate the genocidal Ustashe, operators of the Jasenovac extermination camp-from-hell.
    Polish conservatism needs leaders who can respond credibly to charges of endemic antisemitism, collaborationism, “Polish death camps,” fanatical and intolerant Catholic religiosity, nationalist chauvinism and other staples in the anti-Polish arsenal. Rallying for Dmowski goes in the opposite direction.
    Takuan Seiyo

  2. Conservatism is not a stronghold of ideologies, but in the U.K. and across Europe conservatism is fast moving into an esoteric political mindset.

    A conservative ideological mindset that manifests as socialism for the few with a self-loathing complex expressed within a shroud of false nationalism that despises the majority of compatriots. A majority that are outwith the illicit conservative core of seized entitlement and privilege.

    Has the counter-jihad been usurped to be used as a vanguard of this illicit conservatism? The islam – socialist alliance has been documented but turquoise conservatism has proceeded unchallenged under the counter-jihad radar.

    The threat to the U.K. is not only from a socialist paradise but a conservative caliphate.

    An illicit conservatism that has no qualms about having (working class) compatriots queue at the mosque kitchen, be subjugated by a mohammedan gangmaster or have their repossessed homes occupied by the hard working families of quality immigrants.

    As a form of social subjugation the compatible of Sharia with the politics of illicit conservatism must be a tempting prospect particularly in the U.K.

    Jolie Rouge

  3. @Jolie Rouge
    What you identified has in fact two distinct strains. There is mainstream “conservatism” of the Bush-Cameron kind that’s just a stupid twin of the evil one, with some sop to “family values,” “free market” etc. It’s useless against the encroachments of the Left, and actively destructive in its support of the corporate globalist agenda and the multiculti program that goes with it.
    And then there is the fascist strain in which the degrees of fascism vary from 2 to 10 on a scale of 10, with the one default position being “The Joos done it” (or ZOG etc). That’s the corner that Eastern European “conservatism” has painted itself into, the Third Position parties and now BNP too. That is an even more stupid position than the conservative-neocon one, because their beating on Jews is a loser with millions of people who might otherwise lean to the ethno-nationalist/ freedom agenda. It is also so shrill and packed with lies that it pre-empts the possibility of truthful and warranted criticm of Jewish support for causes destructive to the future of the West.
    Takuan Seiyo

  4. @Takuan Seiyo,

    You raise valid points about anti-Semitism during the inter-war period. A period of, for many, extreme poverty and hardship, as well as unemployment. However with Poland’s 3 million Jews comprising over 10% of the population, and being disproportionately richer and more educated (although many other Jews being just as poor as their Catholic neighbours), was it not always likely that there would be a large amount of anti-Jewish feeling? In such situations, the masses look for a scapegoat, and usually end up picking the easiest one. In Poland, this was the Jews, just like in Britain today the scapegoats for many problems are immigrant Poles.

    Yet in the wikipedia entry about Dmowski’s life, he is quoted as saying: “Poland without Jews would be like a soup without any pepper in it – flavourless”. So did he advocate for there to be no Jews in Poland, or even for Jews to be harmed?! Seems as though his main point was that the sheer scale of Poland’s pre-war multiculturalism (dwarfing even the level of multiculturalism of Western countries today, with Poles making up only 1/3 of cities such as Lodz) was a potential weakness, epecially given the fragility of the young Polish state and the expansive tendencies of its neighbours, Germany and the Soviet Union.

    In the event, the Germans had very detailed intelligence on Polish military bases… could not the amount of ethnic Germans have been a factor in acquiring it? And after the Soviet invasion, large amounts of Jews did side with the USSR. The historian Norman Davies mentions that in some cases, after the Soviets took towns in the East, the mayor surrendered the town not to the Red Army, but to a local Rabbi.

    None of which excuses the boycotts and beatings of the pre-war period – the work of mindless thugs such as those your father encountered. Such actions themselves were possibly a large factor in many Jews siding with Soviets during the course of the war.

    One must not forget, however, that there were other Polish nationalists (also described as “anti-semites”), who risked their lives, and those of their families, to help Jews during the War. One such example being Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, founder of the Żegota, an organisation specificaly set-up to help Jews escape Nazi persecution. So was Polish nationalism (itself much different to Italian fascism or German Nazism) really the anti-semitic monolith it was portrayed to be?

  5. PS, as a side-note about the march itself: near to me at Plac Konstytucji, at the start of the march, was a man wearing a Jewish skullcap, seeming to take part in the march. I watched for a long time him and those around him – however, in spite of large amounts of people passing by, including many skinheads and football hooligans with masks, I saw no aggression towards him, not even any stares. I got many more stares for the red shirt I was wearing.

    I also listened for any anti-semitic/racist etc chanting. Apart from one chant at the end containing the word “Żydzi” (Jews), from one group in a small corner of the march, there wasn’t any. Such were the “racist” and “anti-Semitic” aspects of the march.

  6. @Green Infidel
    Now we are getting somewhere. This is a useful exchange, because the injustices the Jews suffered even before WWII now act as a moral break on the willingness
    of most people to consider a moratorium on Muslim immigration, let alone on measures, however humane and fair, to induce Muslims already here to repatriation.
    I can’t post my full comment now, as it’ll be fairly lenghty and I have to do it in MS Word, which for some reason is unpostable directly here; I’ll have to send to it to GoV and ask them to post it for me tomorrow.

    As to yr 2nd comment and some of what’s in the first, you are shooting in the wrong direction. I am not Abe Foxman or Jan Gross. I am on your side, and am not given to sweeping and insufficiently grounded attributions. And so I made no allegations about the attitudes of the crowd vis. Jews, xenophobia etc. The allegations I made were about Dmowski, and I could go deeper, darker and more negative about him, but this is not the right forum for it. And the point is that if a march like this, the political goals of which I support, is held to honor a known fascist, the negatives of the fascist rub off on the people who are marching. Not only morally but tactically too it’s a losing proposition to honor Dmowski without at least some caveats and distancing from some of his positions. It only feeds anti-Polish stereotypes and sharpens the appetites of EU, Soros etc. to “reform” the Poles and bring them to heel under the “civilizing” influences of the European Commission.
    Pilsudski was a great man of great deeds. Dmowski, typically for a fascist, was just good with words, many of them poisoned.
    Takuan Seyio

  7. @Green Infidel

    You do have some points, but the way the Polish Right is going about those points is killing what they are starting, right at the outset. Their misguided sentiments for Dmowski, Endeka, Fronda, bigoted anti-Protestantism, paranoid ZOG/ Council of Elders and Masonic conspiracy theories is repellent to many educated middle class Poles who are not leftist-progressives and could otherwise be supporters. Instead, it increases their zeal for integration with the EU, to neutralize what they see in the Polish Right with shame as primitive, uninformed chauvinism and comically narrow-minded Catholic bigotry.

    The 10% figure you mention is crucial, because it’s one more and quite an early failure of multiculturalism in Europe. When three quarters of one tenth of your population live in their own world, with their own language etc., it’s simply too much; it doesn’t and cannot work. And it does explain the negative feelings that Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians etc. had about Jews. But to find an international understanding for such a sentiment, particularly in an atmosphere where the world is sympathetic to the minority’s position, it has to be expressed truthfully and in a nuanced way.

    “Truthfully” means saying Mea Culpa for the one quarter of Jews who were fully assimilated and who saw themselves as Poles (as my father did), and who contributed mightily to Poland, yet suffered vile insults, discrimination, beatings etc. You might start early with the mixed ones like Mickiewicz, Słowacki and Chopin (they were abused, I’m just mentioning for their merit) and go to modern times with names of the abused ones like Tuwim, Rubinstein, Szulc, Kosinski and Polanski.

    Second, Jews were wealthier and more educated only in the small towns and countryside, and were a natural scapegoat for the peasants. But books such as Roman Vishniac’s “A Vanished World,” will show you the squalor in which most urban Jews lived. Now even if the envy and resentment of the peasants were understandable, the many base actions that resulted from them are not excusable. It’s exactly the same as black savages in the U.S., e.g. in the Los Angeles riots, attacking Korean grocery shops, plundering etc. — all with spurious claims that if the Koreans are so much more successful than the blacks, and they hardly even speak English, it must be because they are “exploiting the black community.” Not so, they just work four times as hard as the black community, don’t drink or do drugs, and have an IQ two sigmas higher.

    So even if many Poles did not share these Dmowski-inspired attitudes, at the least the acknowledgment has to be made that the government failed to protect the Jews properly, and Dmowski celebrations should be questioned, as he, more than anyone, stoked the fires of resentment and caused all the ugliness and horror that came out of that.

    The defense you give with the German issue fails for the same reason. I am a former Slazak, as a child was an actor in a Polish film about the persecution of the German autochthons there, so you can trust I know whereof I speak. Of course, the plurality of the Germans did not assimilate and even saw themselves as superior to the Poles. But not all. There was a minority that was loyal. I urge you to look up just one name, Rudolf Weigl, and see what he did for Poland. So the issue is, again, even if anti-German sentiments were justifiable, it was not right to leave the loyal German minority to the sentiments and actions of the mob, again, stoked by Dmowski.
    Takuan Seiyo
    (to be continued…)

  8. (…continued)

    I will not address the points you made concerning events during the war. They are not relevant, and we could burn many a midnight oil on this. I am addressing just the pre-war Dmowski-related period, and the slouching towards fascism that was reflected then even in Church publications – all because of Dmowski, the National Front etc. I happen to think that Poland and the Poles got an undeserved bad international reputation concerning WWII, with far too much emphasis on the negatives and not nearly enough acknowledgment of the positives. But the ugliness is in the pre-war period, and that has not gotten enough attention either. Why draw the world’s attention to it by celebrating Dmowski?

    It’s time the Polish Right started rethinking these issues. Maybe see what right-wingers with a broader view are doing in Western Europe and elsewhere, even when they raise fair contra-Jews points voiced in respectful tones, e.g. Samuel Francis or Guillaume Faye. You are losing millions of potential supporters in Poland and gaining powerful international and domestic enemies because of this issue.
    Takuan Seiyo

  9. @Takuan Seiyo,

    This march ended at Roman Dmowski’s statue due to him being one of the main heroes of the Polish independence movement. That is all. It was not an endorsement of every one of his views. In fact I have personally heard more conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the world from those in the “liberal” camp. This despite belonging to a large Catholic church group, where many belong to what you call the “Polish right”.

    Overall however, I notice far less anti-semitism here now than was present, say, 10 years ago. There is a larger interest in the past of Poland’s Jews. And many people are resesarching their own past. One acquaintance in particular who used to be a virulent anti-semite changed her views 180 degrees after discovering her own forefathers to be Jewish!

    You call Dmowski “fascist”, yet it was Pilsudzki who imposed a dictatorship on Poland in the 1920s. In the event, the two of them fell out not because of their world-view but because they were in love with the same woman (who chose Pilsudzki). Yet in Fascist Italy, Jews were among Mussolini’s allies throughout the 20s, until Hitler exerted influence on Il Duce. So was anti-semitism one of the crucial aspects of fascism – and did Dmowski even align himself with Mussolini, Franco or other European fascists?!

    I agree the Right in Poland has much it could improve on. Their claims to ending corruption and reducing taxes are laughable as during their 2 years in power from 2005-2007 they failed to do either of those things, while their constant attacks on the prime minister, Donald Tusk, for the flimsiest of reasons, are a bore for many people. It’s those features rather than any “love of Endecja” which are currently most prominent.

    However is the Western Right in a much better shape? In Britain, David Cameron is a sell-out who joins in the witch-hunt against those who hold views similar to his own (such as UKIP) and joins Trotskyite groups like United Against Fascism. In America, even in the Republican party, any criticism of Islam is confined to the fringes – let alone any suggestions as to the current President’s beliefs. There seems to be only Allen West with the courage to speak uncomfortable truths, however he didn’t even enter the race to be the presidential nominee. From what I can see, in all 3 countries I’m familiar with (Britain, Poland, USA), the Right are obsessed with a few issues (“Obamacare”, Europe, Tusk) and losing focus on the ones that really matter. I am not sure the situation is much beter in other countries…

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