The Independence March has officially ended – and so this is the last post from our live blog.
Some food for thought: Wirtualna Polska commissioned an opinion poll to ask Poles what do they think about the Independence March.
According to the poll, 43% have either a “decisively positive” or “rather positive” attitude towards the March. 22% have rather negative, or decisively negative feelings towards it, and 35% are undecided.
Unsurprisingly, as many as 65% of PiS supporters feel positively about the March, and only 16% are negative. Among the supporters of KO, the proportions are reversed: 42% feel negative about it, and 28% positive.
Thanks for being with us today!
Participants of the Independence March chanting “Chłopak i dziewczyna, normalna rodzina” (“A boy and a girl, a regular family”), accompanied by the sound of flares.
The issue of LGBTQ rights and the traditional family model are very important in order to understand the liberal/conservative divide in Poland.
Contradictory statistics about this year’s March. While Warsaw’s City Hall estimates that around 47,000 people took place in this year’s March, according to Damian Kita, the organisers’ spokesman, the number reached around 150,00.
All participants of the anti-fascist march have now reached Place Trzech Krzyży, informs us Percy, a member of our editorial team and our man on the ground.
According to its organisers, at its height the march gathered 12,000 participants.
Kamil Dąbrowa, the spokesperson for the Warsaw’s city hall, wrote on Twitter that there are around 47 000 participants of the Independence March. At its culmination, the march reached the length of 1750 m. He wrote that the police noted some “pyrotechnic incidents”, but overall there were no major disruptions.
Last year, which marked the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence, the police estimated the number of participants at 250 000.
Informuję, że w #MarszNiepodległości bierze udział około 47 tys. osób. W kulminacyjnym momencie marsz rozciągał się na długości 1750 m i zajął powierzchnię ponad 42 tys. metrów kwadratowych. Marsz przebiega bez większych zakłóceń, policja odnotowuje incydenty pirotechniczne. pic.twitter.com/b6pDPDpFuW
— Kamil Dąbrowa (@dabrowa_k) November 11, 2019
That wonderful moment when you run into a group of anti-Marxist protestors, carrying flags condemning dead philosophers/writers:
– Spinelli#MarszNiepodleglosci pic.twitter.com/fJmbXTdrfV
— Jenne Jan Holtland (@jjholtland) November 11, 2019
Polish right-wing politicians and intellectuals often discredit left-wing politics by equating it to communism. Here are banners carried by Polish youth, condemning communist/left-wing philosophers and writers
— Krzysztof Bosak 🇵🇱 (@krzysztofbosak) November 11, 2019
Krzysztof Bosak, an MP from far-right Konfederacja, tweeted a banner that reads “Polish nationalism is active patriotism not fascism”.
Bosak said three days ago in a radio interview for RMF FM that Adrian Zandberg, the leader of Razem, a left-wing party, is not welcome at the Independence March because the party’s views “are contrary to the idea of Polish independence and to the Polish tradition”. He said that homosexuals could join – but without the rainbow flags.
Hi, this is Monika, deputy editor, taking over from Daniel.
Czarny blok – Szturmowcy na MN pic.twitter.com/6pHnvBWt2r
— Piaskiem w oczy (@piaskiemwoczy) November 11, 2019
Black-hooded demonstrators holding banners reading “Autonomous nationalists” and “Polish Intifada: We want our country back now! This is Poland and not a “Polin”
Polin is the Hebrew name for Poland, and it has been used by the far right to refer to the idea that Jews are trying to take control over the country.
I’m now signing off from my coverage and handing over to my colleague Monika, our deputy editor. Thanks for joining me today.
Like every year, thousands of flares are being lit at the Independence March. This is technically illegal, but the police generally do not seek to enforce that law.
There is also a protest against the Independence March taking place alongside its route
One of the anti-nationalist protests removed by police was Paweł Kasprzak, a former Solidarity activist in communist times and now on of the leaders of the Citizens of the Republic anti-government protest group.
Police reportedly asked the protesters repeatedly to disperse from the route of the march, and then took action when they refused.
Paweł Kasprzak wyniesiony przez policjantów. Blokujący #MarszNiepodległości2019 kilka razy byli wzywani do rozejścia się ale nie reagowali na polecenia funkcjonariuszy komunikowane z głośników. Marsz próbowali zatrzymać w około 20 osób. #11listopada Marsz idzie dalej. pic.twitter.com/VEy651dd1s
— Patryk Osowski (@Patryk_Osowski) November 11, 2019
Police have forcibly removed anti-nationalist protests who were standing on the route of the Independence March holding a banner reading “Constitution”
Polish, European and LGBT flags flying at the anti-fascist march that’s also taking place in Warsaw today.
One banner reads: “Diversity strengthens the nation.”
The Celtic Cross, a symbol used by white supremacists, is pictured in today’s crowd. It has regularly appeared at past Independence Marches.
Like every year, delegations from other countries are attending the Independence March. A banner in Hungarian and Polish pictured here, mentioning the “brotherhood” between the two nations.
Aerial shots of the march suggest that attendance may be lower than in the past.
Last year’s crowd of 250,000 was an exception because it was the centenary of independence and an official state march took place in coordination with the normal one organised by the far right. In 2016 and 2017 around 60,000-75,000 are estimated to have taken part. This year the crowds look a bit smaller. But that’s just a guess. We’ll update you with official estimates later.
“Nazis begone” says a banner hung along the route of the Independence March, with LGBT rainbow colours added at the bottom.
Most participants in the Independence March (like these guys) see themselves as patriots and not nationalists, despite the event being organised by far-right groups.
To understand why, read this great explainer by our editor-at-large Stanley Bill: https://notesfrompoland.com/2019/11/09/nationalism-or-patriotism-polands-march-of-independence-2019/
A stunning drone shot of Kościuszko Mound in Kraków, named after Tadeusz Kościuszko, who fought in the 18th century for the independence of not only Poland, but also the United States, serving in the American Revolutionary War
And don’t forget that, away from highly politicised marches, millions of Poles are celebrating Independence Day in calmer fashion
As well as the main Independence March, which is organised by the far right, there is also a much smaller anti-fascist march taking place nearby in Warsaw, organised by left-wing groups.
If anyone is experiencing technical problems accessing our website today, we apologise. It seems the high traffic to our live blog on Independence Day is causing some issues.
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The flares are out as participants in the march sing the national anthem
Anti-abortion activists gathering for the Independence March.
Participants in the Independence March are gathering at the meeting point on Roman Dmowski Roundabout in Warsaw, where they have been praying.
Dmowski was one of the architects of Poland regaining independence in 1918 and a leading political figure in the new state. He is particularly revered today by the far right, given his calls for a more ethnically and religiously homogeneous Poland (which at the time had a very diverse population). This included encouraging the emigration of Jews and promoting antisemitism, such as the idea of an international Jewish conspiracy.
A small anti-nationalist protest is taking place on the route of today’s Independence March. The protesters are holding up a big banner saying “constitution” (a symbol of opposition to the current government)
Warsaw has also today hosted the annual Independence Run. A record 22,000 took part, raising money for charity.
— 🇰🇳 Damian Majewski (@Majewski_D) November 11, 2019
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has released a video for Independence Day revealing that he is “absolutely in love with Poland”.
“She is beautiful and exceptional, feisty, indestructible, diverse and young, dynamic. Poland is simply mine, is simply ours. We all love her.”
The main organiser of the Independence March says that they will do everything they can to identify and remove any banners that break the law. But “it’s not possible for us to check every banner”.
In Poland, promoting fascism or stirring hatred against ethnic, religious or nationalist minorities is illegal. Two years ago, the march featured a large number of extremist banners, for example promoting white supremacy and Islamophobia. Last year, however, there were fewer cases, after police and the organisers clamped down.
An official from Warsaw city hall (which is controlled by the opposition) has said that she will not hesitate to order the march to be cancelled if illegal banners are seen.
Events to mark Independence Day are taking place around Poland today. At Wawel Castle in Kraków, the former seat of Polish monarchs, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin joined commemorations.
For an explainer on the annual Independence March, which is organised by far-right groups but attended by many mainstream conservatives who would not classify themselves as nationalists, see this great piece by our editor-at-large Stanley Bill.
On Monday, Warsaw hosts the annual Independence March.
The event, organised by the far right but also attended by mainstream conservatives, divides opinion in Poland and attracts attention abroad. @StanleySBill explains its development and significance https://t.co/0nT1KTcaP8
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 9, 2019
Last year, which was the centenary of Poland regaining its independence, President Duda held a march in Warsaw that was coordinated with the far-right groups that normally organise the event. This year he will be elsewhere, but he normally sends a letter congratulating the organisers on the event.
Presidential appeal for unity
Earlier today, President Andrzej Duda made a call for unity.
“Today there should be one Poland, one common homeland, beyond all divisions. I appeal to all politicians to remember this…When there was no unity, Poland was weakened. Poland’s strength lay in the fact that politicians stood above divisions in matters important to us. Today we have a lot of political disputes. We represent different ideologies and beliefs. And one is free to have them, because that is what democracy is about. You can have different views and you can express these views. But we must remember that there is a limit to political disputes. And that limit is the interests of the republic.”
Good afternoon. Daniel Tilles here. I’ll be providing live updates on today’s Independence Day events in Poland for the next couple of hours, before my colleague Monika then takes over.
Throughout the day, feel free to get in touch by tagging us (@notesfrompoland) in your tweets and posts or writing to us directly on Twitter, Facebook or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Main image credit: Maja Ruszpel/Flickr (under public domain)