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The Holy Cross Brigade Got a Bad Rap

On February 18, 2018, in Munich, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki laid a wreath at a military cemetery to honor the fallen soldiers of the Holy Cross Brigade of the National Armed Forces (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne – NSZ), a Polish wartime and postwar hard-core Christian nationalist outfit. This symbolic recognition of the unheralded heroism of the NSZ does not reflect Morawiecki’s private ideological preferences. His family is staunchly Piłsudskite, which means firmly in opposition to the National Democrats, who fielded the outfit.

One can legitimately question the timing of the premier’s visit to the cemetery. It came on the heels of the now infamous exchange with an Israeli journalist when the Polish politician misspoke about “Jewish perpetrators” of the Holocaust, instead of either suavely neutralizing the question or sonorously explicating about the complexity of the phenomenon of collaboration during the Second World War. The media not only reacted hysterically to the press conference misstep, but also went ballistic at Morawiecki’s trip to the cemetery, which was widely perceived as an act of bad will, indeed a provocation. One the one hand, the journalists exclaimed, the Polish prime minister blamed the victims for the Holocaust. On the other, he glorified “Nazi collaborators” of the Holy Cross Brigade of the NSZ.

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