By Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin | 11 November 2014
Thousands of fascist and ultra-nationalist thugs marched through the centre of Warsaw today, hijacking Poland’s annual Independence Day celebrations.
Several hundred masked fascists began to riot and attack the police as the march approached its destination outside the national football stadium. Paving stones were torn up and hurled at police, while journalists were also attacked.
Fascist umbrella group Ruch Narodowy (National Movement) which brings together two main factions, Młodzież Wszechpolska (All-Polish Youth) and the Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny (National Radical Camp), led off the march.The National Movement was formed after the 2012 Independence March by the National Radical Camp (which has a SA-style uniform and swastika-like sword symbol on a green background) and the All Polish Youth Movement.
It is attempt to break into the “mainstream” through forming a “Eurofascist” party, similar to the Front National in France. But unlike the FN, which has put serious effort into trying to “de-demonise” its image, the Polish fascists openly maintain their street organisations and their Nazi-style flags and symbols.
Much of the National Movement’s propaganda and hatred is directed towards the left and the LGBT community. It is also deeply anti-Semitic and, more and more, is targeting the Roma. One group on last year’s breakaway march, which we reported here, were chanting, “Poland for the Polish – no room for the Roma.”
The fascist umbrella group also finds support amongst some church and “family values” groups that support the National Movement’s attacks on abortion and LGBT rights.
Today’s events began with the official independence celebrations led by the Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. The official march commemorates the day Poland regained its independence at the end of World War One in 1918. Before that, Poland had been carved up between Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Tens of thousands marched through the Polish capital. As in previous years, fascists and ultra-nationalists and far right football hooligan firms mingle with the crowds. Then as the official parade ends, the fascists divert onto their own demonstration, headed up with fascist flags and banners.
Polish paper Gazeta Wyborcza estimated that there 25,000 people on the fascist and nationalist demo when it started, just as official proceedings drew to an end.
There was a large contingent from Hungary’s hardcore nazi party Jobbik, marching behind a large truck, which was used to drive through police lines.Jobbik MP Adam Mirkoczki was a speaker at the fascists’ rally outside the football stadium at the end of the march alongside RN leaders.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the fascists’ demonstration has turned violent, with a group breaking away as they crossed a bridge over the Vistula river and reached the eastern bank, near the Polish national football stadium.
Last year a crowd of fascists and nationalists went on the rampage in Warsaw. These thugs burned down a rainbow arch, a symbol of LGBT pride, they attacked an anarchist squat and attempted to burn down the Russian embassy.
On Saturday, around 2,000 anti-fascists demonstrated in Warsaw. Speakers included Andrzej Radzikowski of OPZZ (Poland Alliance of Trade Unions).
Worryingly, fascists in Poland are able to mobilise far greater numbers on the streets at present.