Wroclaw for everyone without hate parade 2013

Look, I’m not claiming the credit for the “Wrocław for everyone without hate” parade and should be carried shoulder-high through the streets of Wrocław.  That should go to the many hard-working people I’ve met over the past week.  I’m just saying that, last November I wrote that we need a Wrocław coalition against fascism, and somewhere, I can’t remember where but I think it was on this blog’s Facebook page that I said that the first action could be a protest against hate crimes.

 

This is, of course, a coincidence.  Literally no-one reads this blog.  In fact, this blog has minus reader figures.  I’m just saying that, behind this bluster and oh-so-western opinions, sometimes, just sometimes I am right.

Sometimes in a bad way.  (See this article from November 2011 and this one from a few weeks ago.)  Sometimes, as shown yesterday, in a good way.  Therefore perhaps, just perhaps you should mark my next words:

The parade was excellent.  There were tons of people, maybe as much as 2000 people.  There was an excellent mood.  It was well colourful, well creative and contained some excellent music.  Passers-by saw us having fun.  We needed a positive kick to our system following the fascist activities of the few years.  The PR beforehand was very good.  It was excellent to see NGOs and small businesses get behind us.

Uczestnicy parady 'Wrocław dla wszystkich bez nienawiści'

Photo: Tomasz Szambelan / Agencja Gazeta

I hope that this is just the start.  It’s all very well having fun but we have to learn from mistakes which were made.  Passers-by should have received flyers or other forms of information to find out what we were about.  We had too many pauses, though the cold made that worse.  Some left the parade due to the cold, having to stand around, and due to the length.  I believe that the parade should have been shorter.  Of course, and this is important, better weather would have helped.  Still, we could have dealt with this better.
Photo: Kamil Downarowicz

Photo: Kamil Downarowicz

Some have complained about the presence of a few people with covered faces among us.  To tell the truth, I was somewhat wary of the reaction to them, but when one remembers the brutal violence of fascists towards initiatives like ours, I felt somewhat comforted to see them.  Some people however don’t know much about anti-fascist action (which was a part of the parade, despite its emphasis on a positive message) or are less comfortable with confrontation than myself, and were put off.  It didn’t help that they were at the front of the parade.  Saying that, I repeat that I myself was glad to see them.  It was unfortunate that some of them reacted to the clearly drunk and confused four nationalists who followed us, giving them the attention they wanted.

The future of Wrocław anti-fascism is dependent on dealing with a few issues: Will the coalition continue?  Will it enlarge its target audience to meet those who are not even aware of problems with discrimination in Wrocław?  With active Christians?  People over 35 (who were there, but were a minority)?  Such issues, as well as that of racism in Polish society, lack of civic intervention when hate crimes are witnessed or the high profile role of violence in Polish culture are big issues.

Photo: Kamil Downarowicz

Photo: Kamil Downarowicz

Still, this was just a start.  Mistakes are to be made, and learned from.  I repeat, the parade was excellent.  I reckon the parade will be like a demonstration I attended in Birmingham in 1998.

You see, about 70,000 people (including myself) went to Birmingham in May 1998 to protest against the economic policies of the G7, specifically for the cancellation of debt owed by Global South countries.  These people were largely apolitical people, or least, not the kind of people who were normally politically active.  This contained many Christians.  They came, saw many people with the same concerns, felt more powerful, went home, and got politically active on an international as well as local levels.  Birmingham 1998 was a big kick-start for us.

Yesterday was on a smaller scale than Birmingham, but contained many who hadn’t been to such events before.  I believe that Wrocław 2013 will play a  kick-start role for them, as well as for us more seasoned activists.  We can’t rely on politicians.  It’s up to us to push on.

Thanks to all those who attended!  See you again (and again, and again, and again…..)

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NOP threat on BWA gallery


As the man faced with 100 slices of bread and a few tubs of butter said, we need to get spreading.

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Such as this.

A screening of a film by Tomáš Rafa about nationalism in Europe was to be shown tomorrow evening at the BWA art gallery in Wrocław.  This was cancelled due to online threats by members of the NOP.

Now, the head of BWA in Wrocław Marek Puchała said that the showing of the film was postponed due to the unhappy coincidence that it was to take place on the same day as the day of commemoration of the Żołnierze wyklęci, partisan anti-communist forces (it would be better to concentrate on Dydd Gwyl Dewi on March the 1st, for Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, who spoke of the importance of love and peace)  (What do you mean, that isn’t relevant?)  Puchała said that, as there will be a demonstration by NOP members to commemorate that day it could be dangerous, as I understand it, as a number of fascists would be together and pumped up and ready for doing something against “leftists”, represented in this case by BWA.  It seems that the film will be shown in BWA at another date.

Now, here I could tell you that I was right about what happens when people didn’t stand up to fascists on November 11th 2011.  But I’ve done that before.  I could also mention that there is a key gap in effective ways of dealing with history in Poland, but I’ve said that before as well.  I could also link the threats to other hate-crimes in Wrocław since the 11th of November 2011, leaving people concerned with hate crimes with a general feeling of hopelessness, but again, I’d be repeating myself.  I doubt you’d like that.

No, I’ll concentrate on one thing.  I wasn’t aware of the showing of the film, and neither were friends of mine.  This isn’t a big story in itself (my own minor traumas not being particularly relevant in this case), but does show a problem in Wrocław about publicity.  I know various anti-fascists, various friends and friends of friends are active in the social sector, and I’m a “liker” of various relevant groups on Facebook like WolnyWroclaw and  Żywa Biblioteka, but still, we didn’t find out about the film.  Had I been regularly attending events at BWA or “liked” them on Facebook, I would have found out about it.  But I hadn’t even though that someone like BWA would show such a film, a film that I could have watched.

It’s like when a client of mine expressed disappointment to me that she didn’t know that Cafe Pestka was showing the film Żydokomuna together with a discussion with its creator Anna Zawadzka.  She is not on Facebook, where I had found out about the film.  It’s also like when I attended an anti-discrimination forum last year where a complaint was made that organisations do their own events and don’t tell other people.

I don’t think that, by and large people are keeping their events secret, rather that their target audience is narrow.  Sometimes you have to know the right person in order to find out about events.  That may reflect good networks on the one hand, on the other hand in the year 2013 information needs to be out there.  Events like the upcoming “Wrocław for everyone without hate parade” on the 23rd of March and certainly with the Hardcore Help Foundation Day on the 9th of March will happen, and not everyone  who would be interested will found out about them.

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As I’ve said before, we need a Wrocław coalition against fascism, at the very least, in order to spread information about events.

I ask of you, dear reader the following: If you work in an organisation, perhaps you could speak with your colleagues about the possibility of working in an open coalition.  Otherwise, let me know on Facebook or Twitter of events that others should know about.  My blog here is a small attempt to help those people who are working hard against fascism and for diversity, so therefore I would ask of you to make my blog known to friends and colleagues.

Finally, I wrote this article “Potzebujemy koalicję wrocławską przeciwko faszyzmowi”  in Polish.  Would someone be so kind as to proof-read it?  I wish to pass it onto to various groups.

Wroclaw police and racism

1m złoty is to be spent on combatting hate-crimes and xenophobia in Wrocław (source in English, in Polish)

A few points:

I said on my old blog after 11/11/11 that the average “patriot” not aligned to fascist activities are likely to become radicalised as a result of the NOP/ONR/football fan alliance.  This story shows that those doing the violence were those same football fans.

It is good that more surveillance will be made of fascist groups.  However, this isn’t totally good news.

From wolnywroclaw.pl

From wolnywroclaw.pl

During 11/11/12 I saw two plain clothes policeman take away one anti-fascist protester (who was drunk and acted alone).  Meanwhile the police did nothing when the fash attacked passers-by with fireworks and flares and shouted racist slogans, all of which are illegal acts.  I gather that the police did not act (as they also didn’t act when the fash attacked anti-fascists in 2011) as they didn’t want to “provoke” the fash.  Certainly, police tactics against the fash are not working (witness also the fact that it took them 45 minutes to get to Wagenburg, despite the fact that they knew of a possible attack earlier).

Bear in mind that the police use their powers against anti-fasicists as well.  In this article I mentioned how anti-fascists were beaten by police in Katowice, where also someone with asthma suffering breathing problems was not helped by police.  11/11/11 in Warsaw saw German anti-fascists (those who were attacked by historical reenactment society members) forced to strip in cold cells; denied water, food and interpreters.

It is very telling that this money is being given to state apparatus, but nothing to the civic society.  The fight against hate-crimes requires more than a more powerful state.  It requires people prepared to inform the police of hate crimes.  It requires people to intervene when they see them happen.  It requires them to actively stand up against fascist organisations on the streets, making it clear that we oppose their views.

One thing not mentioned is whether more attention will be given to the labelling of hate crimes (as Sukurs reminds me).  Perhaps it will happen, or perhaps this will simply lead to an extension of state powers, powers that can also be used against anti-fascists.

One very obvious question is: How many police members have racist/homophobic/anti-semitic views?  All over the world one can find evidence of such people (such as here, here, here, here and in Warsaw)

It is very worthy to ask how many policemen and woman are members of NOP, ONR and Młodzież Wielkapolska?  How many have connections to Blood and Honour?  What kind of monitoring of police exists?

From "konkret" magazine

From “konkret” magazine

In the context that police all over the world have members with fascist and anti-demoratic views, the question arises as to the impact of pre-1989 police on the present police.  I know that, in Germany police who were Nazis by and large kept their posts afterwards and were responsible for the training of current members of the police. (Here i recommend “Critical policemen/women“)  Given the post-WWII situation of building a new democratic west Germany it makes sense that they employed people with experience.  My question is, what happened in Poland?  How many police now were members pre-1989?  What influence does the pre-1989 generation still have?  (I am not relativising the Nazis and Polish Stalinists here, by the way.  Racist police structures exist all over the world).

This is not (oh liberal reader) to say that all policemen and women are fascists.  I don’t want to contribute to paranoia.  They are however questions worth asking.

Nationalist communism in Poland

Tomorrow is the anniversary of martial law in Poland, and again the day will say the fash marching in Warsaw and Wroclaw, calling for the murder of communists and basically trying to take the centre ground of history.

Theirs is the view shared by many in Poland and beyond Poland, largely by conservatives, that pre-1989 saw the situation of communism as experienced in Poland as the antithesis of patriotism.  This infers that being communist was per se anti-Poland.

History shows us that the issue in Poland is not communism against patriotism, rather nationalism against the people of Poland.

Actually I don't agree with the relativisation of communism with Nazism, but I'll deal with that in a later article.

Actually I don’t agree with the relativisation of communism with Nazism, but I’ll deal with that in a later article.

Let’s start with 1945.  Zygmunt Wojciechowski, a member of the anti-Semitic All Poland Youth was an associate of the fascist Roman Dmowski.  He admired Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy as a good role model for Poland (at first at least, he was later to be part of a family that sheltered a Jewish woman).  He was very active with the communist government in Poland, especially in their attempts to define the “recovered territories” as being “originally Polish”, via various publications.  Undoubably, he was influential within and without communist circles in Poland in pushing a nationalistic agenda.

Such a nationalism can also be seen in Wrocław not only in the programme for the “intensifaction of  the re-Polonisation campaign” which led to the elimination of the German language and forced “Polonisation” of first and last names, but also in the allocation of names for key streets, throughfairs and ur which were dominated by the likes of the Grundwald battle, the Silesian insurgents, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Piłsudski and, on the arse-end of Wroclaw, Dmowski (note how the street is still named after that fascist).  With the exception of a street named after Stalin (now ul. Świdnicka, though that was renamed after 1956) hardly any key parts of the town were named after communists and Soviets.  Certainly, there were streets named after Klara Zetkin and Luksemburg, but these are minor streets on the outskirts of the town.

Of course, naming a street after people from Polish history is not nationalistic per se.  It’s just that the locations of the streets shows something about what was important to the communist government in Lower Silesia.  National symbols were more important than communist symbols.  Let’s put this another way: There was never a street named after Lenin in Wrocław while there is (still) a square named after Józef Bem.  The communist government was plainly more interested in national(ist) than communist symbols.

The post-war PM of Poland Bołesław Bierut repeatedly quoted the fascist Roman Dmowski (here’s one quote: “The nation becomes the master of its fate not only when it has many good sons, but also when it possesses enough strength to restrain its bad ones.”)

Moving forward to the martial law.  Let me introduce you to Maciej Giertrych, fan of Franco and Antonia Salazar and a member of the League of Polish familes.  He was a member of the Advisory Council, an organisation which refused contact with Solidarność.  Giertrych supported martial law, it seems, as he was suspicous of Solidarność as he said that “they serve the interests of non-Polish people”.

Another nationalist collaborator  was Bołesław Piasecki, the founder of the fascist and (of course) anti-Semitic party the ONR who, in 1947 founded PAX, a Roman Catholic organisation that worked with the state.  His anti-Semitism is claimed to have been influential in the drastic events of 1968 .  While he died in 1979 his organisation supported Jaruzelski during martial law.

See here for more information.

433px-Grunwald_nr_4_1986_okladka

There’s also the matter of the “Grundwald Patriotic Association“, founded in 1981.  It contained  All-Poland Youth member Napoleon Siemaszko, the anti-semitic book writing and later key fan of Radio Maryja Edward Prus, nationalist-party founder Stanisław Tymiński and anti-semite Tadeusz Bednarczyk.  The aim of the association was to bring together pre-war right-wing veterans in order to discredit Solidarity, saying that some activists had a “Jewish background”, doing parades in the Gdańsk shipyards where people were warned about “Zionist” elements within Solidarity.  More here from the excellent 161 infocafe.

This is not to say that all of communism in Poland was nationalistic, and that all nationalists supported Jaruzelski.  This is however to say that, contrary to what nationalists in Poland and conservatives in Poland and abroad say, nationalism played a key part in collaboration in Poland.  (In fact I would argue that nationalism was key to Lenin’s theories, and that nationalism was always part of the Soviet Union, as well as Poland; this line of thought shall be continued in a later article).

Or to put it another way: ONR members and their friends in the NOP and All-Poland Youth have founders and key members who collaborated with communist authorities.  Taking their own views to a logical conclusion, nationalists in Poland may want to hang themselves.

Potrzebemy koalicja Wrocławska przeciwko faszyzmowi

This is my first article in Polish.  I usually write in English, but for an exception thought I’d do one translation of a recent article.

Są na pewno osoby we Wrocławiu który robiją bardzo dobra praca antyfaszystowska.

No wiem, nie piszę doskonale po polsku.  Mam nadzieję, że możesz jednak rozumieć.  Teksty będzie na weekend korektowane.

Jestem rozczarowana.  Rok tem stałam przy rynku z koło 200 innych który chciali pokazywać, że wierzyli róznorodność i demockracja są ważne w polsce.  Myślałam, że potem rózne grup osób myślaliby, “Nie może być jeszcze raz, muśimy robić więcej manifestcja w następnym roku”.  Bo wiedzialiśmy słynne przykłady ataków rasistowych we Wrocławiu w tym roku i też niedawny atak na synagogę i CRK; na pewno myślałem, że osoby chcialiby pokazywać opór faszyzom.

Ale nie.  Faszysty maszali w niedziela z przyjaciołmi kibicami i innymi patriotami.  Bez opóru.  Otwarcie rasistowa organizacja NOP była obecna.  Tłum skandowali “Polska dla Polaków!”  Nawet atakali obserwatorom z raketami i fajerwerkami.  Jasne, że nie tylko chciali zastraszać antyfaszystowom, ale też osobom na średniu we Wrocławiu.

Rasizm, fetysz lidera faszystowskiego, no oczywyście.

Tolerancyjna, otwarta Wrocław?  Żartujesz.

No, nawet kiedy są dużo osób we Wrocławiu który są tolerancyjna, nie chiali przeciwstawiać się osobom który chcą Wrocław która jest bez Żydów, LGBT i osób z skórą kolorową.

Podczas rasizm jest problem we Wrocław codzenie dla osób który mają skórą z kolorem, nie myślę, że średnie osoby we Wrocławiu są wściekłe i aktywne rasisty.  Jestem przekoany, że osoby we Wrocławiu w ogóle nie lubiją NOP i są też dużo osób który są zadowolone kiedy mogą pić kawę fairtradeową i lubiją “tolerancja międzykulturowa”.  Oni brakują methody jak przeciwstawić faszyzom.

Bo faszysty.  Jest teraz nowa “narodowy ruch antydemokracyjny”.  Juz w ostatnim miesącu we Wrocławiu była eskalacja nienawistnej przemocy, i jw niedziela był atak na skłat Wagenburga, i jedna osoba była hospitalizowana.

Co robimy?  Czekamy na akcję Rafała Dutkiewiczego?  Czekamy na policję?

Na “Forum Wrocławskim antydiskryminacyjnim” w Falanterze różne aktywisty mowali o mieście Wrocławskim, które mowi, że jesteśmy “międzykulturowe” i robią różne wystawy, ale miasto jest jednak beznadziejne przeciwstawić osobom który nie chcą międzykulturowość, nie mogą bronić demokrację.  Policja nie regestrować przemocy nienawistni (więc jest ważne, że powiedz Sukurs kiedy doświadasz coś).  Innymi słowy, nie możemy czekać na państwo.

Potrzebujemy Koalacja Wrocławska przeciwko faszyzmowi, gdzie NGO (bo są dużo które robiją świetnie praca) i też indywidualny i organisacji religne.  Kiedy wiedze się sytuacji na świecie wiedze się, że społeczeństwo obywatelski jest bardzo mocniej, kiedy organisacji i osoby pracują razem.

Powiedziałem na Forum, że byłby dobry pomysł kiedy mialibyśmy koalicję antyfaszystowskim we Wrocławiu i ktoś powiedział mi, “Jest Koalicja w Warszawie i mają konflikty”.  No, na pewno.  Są zawsze konflikty w koalicajach.  Jednak wiem, że koalicji są efektywne przeciwko faszyzmowi, jak przykład w Dreżniu lub w Angli (przeciwko EDL).  Koalicji działają kiedy osoby pracują razem na dzielone cely.

Tu mowię coś kontrowersego.  Z dużo ostrózności mowię, że słuchałam od dużo osób który pracują z NGO w polsce, że NGO w polsce nie chcą pracować razem.  Napewno są przekłady kiedy pracują razem (Futbol przeciwko rasizmowi od Rita Baum, CRK, Wagenburgu i Domu Pokojego, też Nomada i Falanster robili ten Forum) ale dużo razy słucałem to samo, że sektor NGO w polsce jest mały i jest konkurencja na pienądze i NGO nawet nie powiedziają o projektach który robiją.  Każdy robi je pracę.  Też słuchałem, że osoby który pracują z NGO nie są otwarcie o pomysłach na projekty bo boją się, że inne orginacji będą używać  ich pomysły; to jest też moje doświadczenie (i nie, nie robię zemstrę przez ten artykuł).

Nie jestem tak arogancki (jestem arogancki, ale nie tak dużo) aby myśliał, że wszystko w polsce jest strasznie i osoby tu muszą robić co robi się w zachodniu.  Myśly się (też kiedy wiem, że wszystcy osoby w polsce nie są to samo), że osoby w polsce mogą być bardzo czepłe i otwarte.  Też myśle się, że kapitalizm uczy nas, że muśimy konkurować; nie możemy pomagować naszym konkurentom.

Też słuchałem od kilków osób z Wrocławia, że osoby który pracują na NGO we Wrocławiu są zaściankowe.  Słuchałem skargi o intelektualistach lewicowskiem też są zaściankowe.  Nie myślę, że aktywisty i intelektualisty są niemiłe lub nietowarzyski.  Znam osoby który są bardzo otwarcie.  Myśle się jednak, że osoby są otwarcie kiedy ma się konekcję do kogo który znają, ale nie do osób który nie znają.  I inny temat, na Forum Wrocławskim antydyskriminacjim rozmawliśmy o migrantach i Romach ale oni nie byli na Forum.  Też nie wszyscy migrantów mowiją po polski; znam osoby który byliby na Forum, ale nie mowiją dobrze po polsku, więc nie byli.  Oczywyście, taka sytuacja nie jest tylko na świecie NGO lub we Wrocławiu.

Nie złe zrozumiesz mi, że piszę artykuł aby powiedziała, że “NGO we Wrocławiu są strasznie”.  Chciałbym po prostu rozumieć, dlatego nie ma połuczonej kampani przeciwko faszyzm we Wrocławiu.  Wiem, że krytyka nie jest zawsze otwarcie mowiła w Polsce 🙂

Jest koalicja antyfaszystowska w Warszawie

Wiem, że są możliwośći na konflikty kiedy byłaby koalicja.  Jak przykład, nabieram coraj bardziej podejrzeń o patriotyzmu (myślę, patriotyzm może być drzwi do nacjionalizmu).  Też wiem, że niestety dużo osób mają uprzedenie o anarchistach.  Wiem, że mogą być konflikty w koalicji i wiem, że musielibyśmy robić (nie lubię słowo) kompromisy.

Kompromisy to trudny temat w Polsce, nie?  W życziu politycznym nie robi się kompromisy.  Jest jedno prawo.  Wiem, że PiS (ich dział we Wrocławiu maszerali z faszyztami w Warszawie) radykalowali życie polityczne w Polsce.  Może być, że Polska ma nowoczesną demokrację i więc decydowanie konsensualne może jeszcze rozwijać.

Jednak, może być lepiej, i potencjałne polepszenia są ogromne.  Jestem przekonana, że są dużo osób we Wrocławiu który boją się o NOP ale nie wiedzą co mogą robić.  Czytałam lub słuchałem, że osoby czekają na Rafał Dutkiewicz, lub obwiniają Falanster, że nie organisowali manifestacja.  Wszystcy mogą robić coś, ale nie zawsze wiedzą co, i jak.  Więc możliwość byliby, że koncentracujemy na

Meldowanie zbronia nienawiści
Polepszenie między policją i państwa
Rozwijać odwaga cywilna
Demonstrował, że większość jest tolerancyjna
Kampania przeciwko nietolerancjej

Najpierz możemy robić marsz na rynku dla wszytkich, który chcą pokażywać Wrocław musze być tolerancjyna i nie ma miejśca na zbrodna nienawiści.

Powinniśmy robić koalacja Wrocławska przeciwko faszyzmowi/zbroniu nienawiśiemu, organizacji, indywidualne osoby, kościely i różne mniejszości.  Powinniśmy robić co chcemy od polytików: otwartość i zaufanie, konsenualne decydowanie.

Nie mam wielkiego planu.  Nie wiem bardzo dużo o pracy która robisz.  Wiem tylko, że bylibyśmy bardzo lepiej, kiedy “normalne” osoby wiedzialiby, co i mogą robić, i gdzie, i z kim możieliby rozmawiać.

Mam nadzieję, że następnego 11. listopada będzie coś innego.

When you walk through the snow…

Well it’s been a bit of a wet-snow-in-the-face day today, hasn’t it?  Not that that stopped these people from playing in a “Football against racism” tournament.  Having a lot of fun they were (sorry, I don’t know why I used used Yoda-esque grammar).  The tournament lasted for about 13 hours or something like that today.  Luckily I was provided with some hot tea to keep my cockles warm (one says this in English.  I don’t know where the cockles are to be found on the human body).  I briefly watched a game played in slippery conditions, where many teenagers were laughing, enjoying the game.

Changing the subject, yesterday saw something somewhat dramatic happen.  People in masks entered a vegetarian restaurant and threatened the people there, including the guests.  They they threw some bottles of acid inside the building, causing the place to stink.  The restaurant had to be closed for that reason yesterday, and reopened today.  The attackers, so it seems, were nationalists.

Now, it just so happens that there was going to be a concert taking place in that restaurant today.  That the concert was billed as anti-racist is no accident.  The attack was an attempt to scare people, and it worked, the concert was cancelled.  I was upset at this, as I wanted to go to the concert.  I as well as many were upset as this was effectively a victory for the attackers, for nationalism.

One of the bands who were to play got very angry about this and wrote a message on their Facebook site, saying that “internet anti-fascists” were nowhere to be seen, and that anti-fascists are afraid of confronting nationalists.  Many comments supported this view, saying that not all anti-fascists could have gone to Warsaw last 11/11, and that they chose not to stand against fascists in Wrocław on that 11/11.

There’s a lot to be said about this, and I as someone who has lived in Poland for four years don’t know the whole picture.  What I do know is this:  Fascists/racists try to make people afraid of them.  They threat violent things.  They do violent things.  They lay claim to open spaces.  They want that people do not confront them.  They want that people are passive.  They use tactics to intimidate others.

I have written before on the difference between them and those who live in Wrocław who engage in initiatives that promote diversity and social justice.  In that article I also mentioned that a vegan restaurant, an art festival, a synagogue, a cultural centre as well as anti-racist demos have seen physical attacks by, to give them their name, fascists.

Fear.  That is how they work.  I went to that restaurant today.  I was half-thinking that perhaps a similar attack would happen today.  I was determined however to show solidarity, so I went.  However, as I have written, I have not always reacted when I have seen violent or discriminatory incidents on the streets.  I totally understand why the decision was taken to cancel the concert.  I also understand why few people attended what I would term a “Poland is diversity” demonstration on the last 11/11 in Wrocław.  Those who don’t like our way of life, who are against women being treated equally, that we have immigrants here (especially with coloured skin), that LGBT is considered normal and the old multicultural model of Poland are actively doing violent actions against us.

The way to counter fear is solidarity.  Perhaps the concert was cancelled as they were not sure that many people would attend, that they would feel scared.  Solidarity is of course a loaded word in Poland.  A few weeks ago I watched the film “80 milionów” where among other things we saw protests against the government on Most Grundwaldzki.


The state were there with their shields, batons, water cannons and other weapons.  I daresay that a smaller group of protesters would have been afraid and less likely not to back down.  That there were more people meant that they felt stronger in the fact of a powerful opponent.  The government tried to make people feel afraid, but were unsuccessful in the end as so many people stood against them.  On another level, I once attended an anti-fascist demo where there were 20,000 of us, and about 1,200 fascists (and 10,000 police).  I didn’t feel afraid.  We were a massive group.

Combating racism is much more than one certain day in the year, it’s more than one concert.  It’s an everyday need, tackling discrimination when we see it, intervening, confronting.  Demonstrations however are ways for people to see themselves as part of a big group.  One feels stronger afterwards.

I don’t want readers to go out and do things without thinking about possible dangers.  There are things we need to look out for, such as security (keeping together in groups, not walking alone before and afterwards).  Action needs to be mixed with caution.

One thing I can say though, is that the more people who put fear aside and attend anti-racist events, the bigger the snowball effect will take place, to come back to the first story.  Those kids braved the weather today.  I hope that such bravery develops for those who are trying to strengthen diversity and tolerance in Poland.  History, and indeed, recent history in Wrocław shows us that confrontation can produces very good results.

What kind of Poland do you want?

I like living in Poland.  There are many good things here.  My daily life tends to be of a good quality, and I know plenty people who are doing cool initiatives, initiatives that mean that I can eat good food (vegan or vegetarian), see interesting art (whether inside or outside), maybe see some new clothes‘ styles and the such.  Wrocław, where I live contains in addition people who are working to strengthen civic society, such as by working for women’s and LGBT rights or promoting Fairly Traded goods, including coffee.  The likes of “The Wrocław International”  and “Wrocław uncut” show many examples of cool things here.

SURVIVAL Art Review in Park Tołpy last year. Photo by Magdalena Szady

However, there are some in Wrocław and the rest of Poland who do initiatives that involve the strengthening of discrimination and violence towards other humans.  Examples include recent attacks on the Diversity March together with on the synagogue and CRK (an anarchist centre) by NOP members.

In this article I shall try to show how these attacks should be seen nationwide as part of a pattern of increasingly radicalised attacks by fascists/racists that were strengthened by the “march of patriots” (organised by ONR and NOP, two openly violent and racist organisations) on the 11th of November last year.  These attacks are essentially anti-people with different coloured skin, anti-women, anti-left wing, anti-immigrant, anti-different sexualities, anti-semitic, anti-Roma and anti-care for members of society and the world who have less power.

Following the 11th of November march in Wrocław last year, I said the following on my old blog:

“I imagine they felt more powerful after the march.  They were so big, and the counter-demo was so little.  Such a feeling of power can lead to an escalation of violence in their everyday life (attacks on people of different colours, graffiti on Jewish graveyards), as they feel that there is a small opposition to them.”

Escalation of fascist activities in Poland?

Was I right in saying that?  Has the “march of patriots” led to an increase in or at least connected to fascist/racist activities in Poland?

The day after the “march of patriots” in Warsaw customers in a vegan shop were attacked.  You can see a video of that attack here.  In that article a number of violent attacks on anti-fascists are listed and the writer wrote that “It was here both in the increase as in the intensity of these activities that are being more planed, better organised and more co-ordinated that we see their character: Beatings, arson, graffiti, […] attacking anti-racist demonstrations are just some of the manifestations of recorded activities.”

Wroclaw saw a commemoration by the NOP for the anniversary for martial law in December.  I wrote about this here.  Among other things, the participants chanted “hang the communists”, thus giving a good hint as to their respect to those of different political beliefs, seeing as they often imply that anti-fascists are communists.

February saw a march in solidarity with Serbian nationalism whereby a left-wing shop was attacked in Warsaw.

March saw attention being played to racism in Wrocław in the media due to attacks on Google coloured-skinned employees, something that led to, well, incompetence from the Wrocław state.  It was in that month that this blog published an article from an ex-resident of Wrocław who left Poland because of racist attacks on him.

Easter saw an anti-fascist murdered in Białystok, who was attacked with knives by members of Blood and Honour at a nightclub.  More information here.  Note also how the Blood and Honour group tried to set fire to a flat belonging to an immigrant from Pakistan.  Note also how Blood and Honour are one of the groups who takes part in the “March of patriots” both in Warsaw as well as in Wrocław.

The May of this year saw a violent attack on a Kurdish cafe on the market sqaure of Opole.  Here is the video of the attack:

If you click on the video you may notice some commentary which says things like “Fuck/attack the kebabs 11/11/12”, “I also prefer old Polish and Silesian food”, “Well fucked/attacked the twats!  Such faggots shouldn’t be here!”  While this may be internet talk, note how there are no comments challenging them.  Note in the article how one of those attacked said “I am afraid for my life”.

In May in Poznań an art festival took place.  There was displays of photography, a theatre performance, workshops for children, a craft market and a film screening.  30 local ONR members came and threw stones at the building and set fire to the signs outside and worse was only hindered by the participants themselves.

June saw the NOP hire a state-owned tram and go through Wrocław spreading their message!

September saw media attention being paid to racism in Wrocław once more, due to the attack on Tomasz Torres, the nephew of a famous Cuban musician.  The words “KKK”, “white power” together with a bastardised Celtic cross were found by him.

This excellent article looked further at the attack, saying also that “Vratislavian Roma face challenges every day, being hounded and beaten and recently “unknown perpetrators” tried to set fire to their settlement.  The Muslim minority faces racism and religious-motived dislike.  […] The old Rabbi who had lived in Wrocław for years had to cover his kipa hat due to aggresive harassment.  More tragic is the situation for people with coloured skin and students who face aggression on many levels: Denial of service in bars, verbal attacks and beatings.  The article shows how the state are incompetent in dealing with racism in Wrocław.

Conclusion

Now, perhaps these attacks would have happened anyway and they are not inspired by the “march of patriots”.  However, it is logical to assume that the march led to a stronger feeling of strength, especially as they were supported by mainstream conservatives (such as shown here).  They are also to be seen in the comments in various online media sources, such as Gazeta Wyborcza, whereby fascist violence is either denied, or where the enemy-figure of the left-wing is focussed on) and uncritical patriots.  In any case, that only 200 people in Wrocław stood against them, making their commitment to democracy and openness clear, showed the NOP and ONR that they have claim to the streets.  It is also to be noted that there has been an increase in fascist graffiti in Wrocław over this past year, including:

Note the swastika.

On Sopocka, by Ksawerego Liskego. Combat 18 are an openly Nazi organisation known for murdering immigrants the world over. In Poland they work through Blood and Honour, an organisation connected to the “march of patriots”.

Thankfully there is now a reaction against such graffiti:

Let the reader understand

Racists/fascists are certainly getting increasingly active and have stronger networks, including with football fans (the upcoming “march of patriots” in Wrocław will see Sparta and WKS Wrocław fans attending).

How are we to react?  In the ASF publication Zeichen, Heike Kleffner spoke of how attacks against minorities in Germany in the 90s were hindered by solidarity among members of German society.  This is the experience in other countries with strong civic societies.  Such a solidarity requires that the tolerant people of Poland be active not just in terms of their interests and lifestyle, but also through confrontation: Making their views clear to those who deny the humanity of others (“loving your  neighbour requires clarity” to use a phrase by the “Protestant church against right-wing extremism” in Germany).  This means in daily life as well as during official events such as the “march of patriots”, thus claiming the public space.  Such a confrontation is a hallmark of a healthy democratic society.  If you want a tolerant Poland, whatever it is that you are doing needs to be supplemented with a confrontative approach against racism.  We cannot rely on the state.

Solidarity requires people of different political beliefs to network in order to achieve their common goals.  That is already what fascists are doing with conservatives in Poland.  It’s up to those who want a healthy democracy to do likewise.  This requires networking.  That requires face-to-face contact.  Additionally, this blog aims to support and strengthen individuals and organisations who work for a more open Poland.  Feel free to let me know about your activities so that I can pass information on to others.  I ask all of you to also “like” me on Facebook and/or “follow” me on Twitter.