Tens of thousands of nationalists and fascists from all over Europe plan to march tomorrow in Warsaw to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Polish state independence. The march, issued with a last-minute ban by the Mayor of Warsaw, will finally go ahead after a court overturned the Mayor’s decision.
After late-night negotiations yesterday between the fascists and Polish President Andrzej Duda the march will be joined by both him and the country’s PM. The government’s decision to join the march is unprecedented: it is the first time that Polish governmental officials will partake in an event organised by extreme right groups promoting racism and totalitarian state ideas.
In February 2018, National Radical Camp, one of the groups involved in organising tomorrow’s march protested in front of Warsaw’s Presidential Palace demanding the President sign the so-called Holocaust Law — a controversial bill which outlaws blaming Poland or Polish citizens for crimes committed during the Holocaust. They shouted slogans such as “Stop Jewish occupation of Poland”, “Go back to Israel”, and “Take off your kippah!”.
On last year’s march multiple racist banners were present, including celtic cross and black sun symbols and slogans “Europe will be white or depopulated”, and “White power, Ku Klux Klan”.
The event, organised by Polish nationalists annually since 2009, will likely attract tens of thousands of fascists from across Europe. Last year it was attended by about 60,000 people and was dubbed the biggest far-right gathering in the world.
Apart from bringing together thousands of Polish nazis, tomorrow’s march will probably serve as a perfect meeting point and networking event for international fascists. This year, one of the Polish co-organiser groups is planning to host an “anticapitalist, fascist and international conference” which will be a good point of meeting for the European far-right.
Each year the event organisers invite their counterparts from across Europe to march together under the slogans of “White Europe”, celtic cross and SS black sun banners. Over the years international high-profile participants have included, among others, Roberto Fiore, Milan Mazurek and Manuel Canduela. Richard Spencer canceled his appearance last year citing his worry that he will not be granted entry to the EU as the reason. EU citizen Tommy Robinson however did make it, in his role as a “reporter” for far-right Canadian blog The Rebel. The resulting video saw him asking probing questions to bemused counter-protesters about why anti-fascists aren’t terrified of 20 million imaginary terrorist Muslims who could, if they existed outside his own mind, potentially be threatening Europe:
Roberto Fiore is the leader of Italian fascist group Forza Nuova. He is known for saying that he is “not ashamed” to be called a fascist. In the 1970s Fiore was one of the co-funders of Terza Posizione (“The Third Position”): an organisation acting as a cover-up for the extreme right terrorist group Nuclei Armati Revoluzionari (NAR). NAR is responsible, among other things, for a bomb attack in Bologna in 1980 which killed 85 and injured 200 people. Following the NAR trial Fiore was sentenced to five years in prison, however he did not serve it, as he fled to the UK and avoided extradition back to Italy.
Milan Mazurek is a member of Slovak neo-nazi party “Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia”. The party is said to continue the tradition of Jozef Tiso’s Slovak People’s Party, which ruled Slovakia as a German Third Reich satellite state during WW2. The most recent incarnation of People’s Party is known for its anti-Roma activities. Mazurek is also a Holocaust denier.
Manuel Canduela is the leader of Spanish party Democracia Nacional, which models itself on the French National Front. Democracia Nacional is described as extremely right wing, anti-migrant and pro-Russian. In his youth, Canduela was a singer with a neo-nazi rock band Division 250, which took its name from the Spanish voluntary division fighting alongside Nazi Germany on the eastern front of the WW2. Canduela says that his inspiration and role model is general Francisco Franco, whom he considers a “genius” and “grand, heroic historical figure”.
Some international groups however are not welcome in Warsaw tomorrow. Following an invitation from Polish grouping “Autonomous Nationalists”* (which adopted a black flag as their logo and is bragging online about their invention for the day: the Black Bloc), of the Ukrainian nazi group “Sicz Karpacka”, many members of Polish ultra-right circles openly stated online that Ukrainians should not be allowed on the march and would get beaten up if they showed. Some, of course, described the attempt of a Ukrainian group to join their Polish counterparts as “Jewish conspiracy to divide us”, while others reasoned that now it is the time for the fash to unite to fight with “Islam invasion” and that there will be time to jump to each other’s throats again once this goal is accomplished.
What’s more, many of the fascists consider government involvement in the march to be controversial. After the fascist-government deal was announced last night, Polish extreme right Twitter erupted with statements saying that “we hope that the president and PM understand that they are merely guests at our event,” and that they “understand we are celebrating Polish, and not Israeli, independence.”
To make matters even worse the Polish police, who are currently on strike, declared that they would be unable to provide security on the day. With a third of Warsaw riot cops having taken a sick day for the occasion, this could as well be true. Allegedly, military gendarmerie have been tasked with ensuring security on the day: a move unprecedented in Polish recent history, and frankly nobody knows how will it work out.
In short, Warsaw is bracing for a day of mess tomorrow, with, quite likely, serious rioting, attacks on people who don’t look “European”, possible infighting among the fash, almost certainly a fight with the ruling party, and, as per tradition, perhaps some attacks on Warsaw’s squats and alternative centres and likely the anti-fascist counter-protest.
As somebody said, it’d sound comic if it weren’t a bit terrifying.
Note: We have been keeping track of the fascists’ activities during the day on a Twitter thread here.
*The Autonomous Nationalists are rather unusual group on Polish nazi scene. Basically, they steal things from anarchists: they adopted black clothing, squatting, refusal to vote, Mayday celebrations, numerous of anarchist symbols, vegetarianism and animal rights, and added some racism, xenophobia, paganism, advocating for abortion ban and libertarian capitalism.
Featured photo: last year’s Independence Day march in Warsaw, the celtic cross banner reads: “White Europe of brotherly nations”