The article below was written by Maria Juczewska, MA candidate and Associate Director of the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies at IWP.
The annual ‘Independence March’ held on Polish Independence Day — November 11 — is the embodiment of the Polish spirit — independent, strong-minded, individualistic, unpredictable. The spirit that drove the Poles to wage a hopeless fight against the Nazis and Soviets in 1939. The same spirit that will not politely yield to whatever EU decision is made in Brussels or Berlin. For which — as usual — they may finally be severely punished. Unfair labeling, distortion, and disinformation in the international media do not bode well for Poland.
According to the international media, 60 thousand fascists appeared in the streets of Warsaw on Polish Independence Day in the ‘Independence March’ on November 11th. This date, marking the armistice ending the First World War, is commemorated in the UK as Remembrance Day, with the iconic poppy; in the USA as Veterans Day, (previously Armistice Day); and concurrently celebrated as the anniversary of the restoration of Poland’s national sovereignty.
It is impossible to understand Poland if one tries to apply the clichés from his own country formed by his own historical experience. The Polish experience is not the one of the Anglo-Saxon world. No ideology that expects people to become uniform, manageable, disciplined, and obedient could appeal to the feisty Polish spirit. Poland had no Oswald Mosley, no Mitford sisters, no fascist union. Thus, the characterization of the annual ‘Independence March’ in Warsaw as ‘fascist’ is as gross a distortion of reality as calling America’s Veterans Day parades ‘fascist’ marches.