/From a special correspondent in Warsaw./
On Saturday, Poland commemorated 105 years since regaining its independence. Traditionally, the most visible event of the day was the march of nationalists in the metropolis. Seznam News followed the situation directly in Warsaw.
The March of the Metropolises is organized annually by nationalist organizations and the extreme right. According to supporters, it is a patriotic event attended by families with children, while critics say it is a march with displays of aggression, hatred and the participation of neo-fascists, including foreign ones.
“Poland has not yet perished”
This year, the march was held under the slogan “Poland is not dead yet”, which refers to a passage from the Polish national anthem. Due to the contradictions between the organizers, weaker promotion and also the lower election result of the extreme right, a lower participation than usual was expected this year.
In the end, tens of thousands of people passed through Warsaw under major closures in the center and a massive police deployment. The city municipality estimated the number at 40,000. According to the calculations of the Onet server, 70 to 90 thousand people went to the march, which would still mean a lower participation than in previous years.
Contradictions on the far right
Disagreements in the camp of the Polish extreme right, which includes nationalists and non-fascist organizations, were also shown directly during the march. The National Radical Camp (ONR) organization shouted, among other things, that Bosak’s group was “cheating the Poles” during the speech of the leader of the Confederation parliamentary party, Krzysztof Bosak.
What about the border situation?
The hybrid war continues on the Polish-Belarusian border, and with it a humanitarian crisis. There are already 55 victims. The topic will be inherited by the new Polish government. Activists expect a more humane approach from today’s opposition, which will probably take over the government within a month.
Expert Anna Tatarová from the anti-racist association Never More drew attention to the financial problems of the organizers before the march. “You can’t see the tone of triumphalism, self-confidence and arrogance that the city belongs to them that day,” said Anna Tatarová based on media monitoring.
The organizers stated in advance that the march is a response to the challenge of “the continued federalization of the European Union, the limitation of the sovereignty of the member states, the war in Ukraine, mass migration and the strengthening ideology of globalism”.
That the European Union is a thorn in the side of some of the participants was also shown by the fact that some of them trampled and spat on the EU flag and the rainbow flag symbolizing the LGBTQ+ movement before the start of the march. One of the allegorical cars also dragged the same flags along the march route.
Shocking behavior of the participants of the Independence March. Before the march began, they trampled and spat on the flags of the European Union and LGBT+ people pic.twitter.com/eICZYN4yLv
— Interia (@Int_Events) November 11, 2023
The rainbow flag was also one of the triggers of the incident on the march route. The well-known liberal activist Katarzyna Augustynek, popularly known as “Grandma Kasia”, angered onlookers with Polish flags waiting behind the barriers in Krucza Street.
The senior woman stood at the barriers in the first row and waved a Polish flag with rainbow colors in the direction of the passing march. “I’m protesting against the march of the fascists,” senior Augustynek repeated several times.
In the end, there was also a fight and a push, the activist “Grandma Kasia” lost the rainbow-Polish flag, then it was still covered by a tarp. A plainclothes policeman was trying to control the situation in the background. The march with nationalist slogans goes on, crosses the Vistula and ends at the National Stadium. pic.twitter.com/MrwNNcGTHy
— Filip Harzer (@HarzerF) November 11, 2023
Calls for violence and the removal of the flag were heard from the crowd behind her. “Do you like it, you f**k, for the buzzards to hook up with the Poles? Take down that flag! We are nationalists, no, cu**a, buzzards,” shouted one of the masked men at the activist.
The heated situation, full of swearing, eventually ended in a physical fight and the theft of the flag. “Well done, well done, you’ve lost, intelligence has won,” chanted the crowd of march supporters. The SZ reporter, who was filming the incident, was momentarily snatched by one of the nationalists’ phone. After a while, a plainclothes policeman straightened out the situation.
In the march, which began with a joint prayer, according to the Polish media, slogans such as “prohibition of bullshit”, “abortion is murder” were also heard, and banners “stop the Ukrainization of Poland” or “let’s defend white Europe” appeared in the center of Warsaw.
According to Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, the event took place without major incidents, but it did not avoid the annual “overuse of pyrotechnics”.
Kaczyński on the anti-Polish conspiracy
Other, parallel events, including a march against fascism, took place on the holiday in Warsaw and other Polish cities.
The ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party did not participate in the Independence March and traditionally commemorates the holiday in Krakow.
However, its chairman and deputy prime minister, Jarosław Kaczyński, gave a speech on the occasion of the national holiday already on Friday evening. It was only Kaczyński’s second public appearance since the parliamentary elections.
“A specific plan has already been prepared, the implementation of which by the European Union would not only deprive us of our independence, but also of our sovereignty. It would even lead to the annihilation of Polish society,” Kaczyński said on Friday evening.
He accused an “external party”, which he identified as Germany, of a vaguely worded anti-Polish conspiracy.
Aspirant for the post of prime minister Donald Tusk commemorated the public holiday in a morning video message. “If someone uses the word nation to divide and spread hatred, he is against the nation. If someone wants to use the word nation to cover up iniquities and simple theft, they are committing sacrilege,” said the chairman of the Civic Platform, among other things. He called on Poles to celebrate independence.
A new taste of national holiday
This year they were accompanied by sweet sweets, which were originally known only in Poznań and the Greater Poland Voivodeship. In recent years, it has become a national symbol of the celebration of the Polish National Independence Day, which falls on November 11.
We are talking about quarter-kilogram St. Martin’s rolls with sugar coating, in Polish, rogale, filled with white poppy seeds, nuts, almonds and raisins. They are baked in 91 regional bakeries and their price increases year by year. This year, one piece is sold for roughly 90 CZK.
Despite this, hazelnut sweetness has become the flavor of the most important Polish public holiday. It was celebrated on Saturday as part of many events in cities across the country.