Independence Day: What’s On?

Tomorrow Poland will once again celebrate its Independence Day, with various official and unofficial events taking place to mark the occasion.

In this article we'll take a short look at the history and fill you in on some of the day's events. Last but not least, we'll also shed some light on the controversial 'March Of The Patriots', which is spearheaded by some of Wrocław's extreme right wing groups.

Polish Independence Day: 11th November 1918

The date above marks the anniversary of Poland's resumption of independent statehood in 1918, which came after 123 years of partition by Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Poland's return to self determination was an ongoing process, but the day when Józef Piłsudski assumed control of the country was the one that was chosen as Poland's day of independence.

Poland's decorated history is full of both triumph and despair. If you are keen to learn a bit about the country in the run up to Independence day, then we also have a few useful links for you.

This short animated sequence is impressively produced and details the most important moments in the Poland's history, all the way back to the 9th century. These videos from Britannica and renowned historian Norman Davies are also insightful, with each looking at the country's border changes.

Wroclaw Independence Day Events

Happy Independence Parade

The official celebration, the 'Happy Independence Parade', will start on the Rynek from 11am onwards.

As is traditional, families will gather to pay tribute to the heroes of the struggle for independence. The event is designed to be joyful, positive and a celebration of Poland's history. Representatives of the province and Wroclaw city, veterans and local schools will take an active part in the event.

The actual parade is to get underway at 12.30, with a mass and a number of speeches taking place prior to that.

Independence Day Moustache Run

Starting at the Olympic Stadium at 11am is the so called 'Independence Moustache Run'.

The course covers a distance of 10 km, during which the participants will pay their respects to Józef Piłsudski by dawning fake moustaches.

Independence Day at Agora Cultural Centre

Music, exhibitons and workshops are just some of the attractions at Agora Cultural Centre's Indepedendence Day celebrations.

To find out more about the event, which is to take place between 2-8pm, click here

wROCK for Freedom concert

As has become tradition, the wROCK for Freedom organisers will set up a big concert to mark the anniversary of Poland's independence. 

This year's event will feature performances from Perfect and TSA.

Tickets cost between 60-70 zł and are available at Empik stores, Saturn and MediaMark as well as the websites www.biletin.pl, www.ticketpro.pl and www.biletyna.pl.

Independence Day steam rail journey 

Rail enthusiasts will be delighted to hear they have the chance to travel in a loop around the city in a classic steam locamotive.

There are a 4 departures at the following times: 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4.10pm. For info on tickets, visit the organiser's website here.

Independence Day at the history centre

Entrance is free at Wrocław's history centre tomorrow, giving everyone the chance to learn a bit about Poland's past. 

The museum is open from 10am until 6pm, with a number of special events taking place there throughout the day. 

The March Of The Patriots and the March Of The Great Independent Poland

For those not familiar with the aforementioned "March Of The Patriots", it has been held in the city since 2010. The marches are supposedly aimed at anyone who feels proud to be Polish, however the people behind the gatherings have their own agendas that spread well beyond remembering past heroes.

The group who have regularly spearheaded the march, the NOP, believe in a so called "third position" – an ideology that considers abortion, artificial birth control, euthanasia, divorce and homosexuality as wholly unacceptable. The third position also supports a policy named by the NOP as "racial separation".

Another group heavily involved in the annual march are the ONR, whose own website states they oppose the model of multicultural societies, the ideology of human rights and the system of liberal democracy.

However this year the NOP and the ONR have company; there will not simply be one nationalist march. 

This biggest demonstration will be organised by the "Great Independent Poland" association, which is spearheaded by ex-priest Jacek Międlar. At the march participants will once again call for Poland to pull out of the EU and break free from the "Brussels Occupation".

The demonstration starts at 16.30 by Wroclaw main train station and finishes on the Rynek. 

The event will be supported by political party Kukiz 15, the "Nationalist Republic Of Poland" association and various Śląsk Wrocław ultras groups. The UK's far right will also be present in the shape of Britain First's Jayda Fransen.

However, it is now thought that senior members of the ONR and NOP will not be present at the aforementioned march. They have instead continued with their own 'March Of The Patriots', which will run between Promenada Staromiejska and pl.Teatralny (starting at 5pm). 

Press reports suggest the two seperare marches are a result of a minor power struggle between the various nationalist groups in Wrocław. The NOP have also called for the city's nationalists to hold "unofficial events all over Wrocław". 

Back in 2015 a record crowd of over 10,000 people took part in the March Of The Patriots, however that number dipped slightly last year. 

In the run up to the march in 2015, IBM stoked up controversy after they advised members of their international workforce to steer clear of the city centre during the hours in and around the march. Many considered the comments to be scaremongering given the lack of any violent incidents at previous editions of the marches in Wroclaw. 

That said, despite the fact there is no 'official' indication the participants wish to attack foreigners in any way, some of those present do have very xenophobic attitudes. Therefore there are a fair number of locals who believe it to be an unnecessary risk for a foreigner (especially one who is not white) to be in town unaccompanied on the evening of the demonstration.

'We are all Poles' march

Robert Wagner, an activist for left-wing political party SLD, has organised a demonstration in opposition to the anti-EU march. He has encouraged people to attend via this invitation: 

I invite everyone for whom November 11 is a great and joyful holiday for all. This is a holiday for all Polish and Poles, not only those born in Poland, but also those who have decided to settle here – those who live, work, study and have their heart in Poland.

For a few years we have seen people flying the banners of the All-Polish Youth , the ONR and the NOP , who prefer to celebrate by walking on the streets with scarves covering their faces and with torches in their hands. Their events are dark and full of hatred. 

We want this day to be full of joy, combined with a celebration of our presence in the EU.

Robert Wagner

The march will start at 5pm at the statue of Bolesława Chrobrego on Świdnicka street (by Renoma shopping centre) and finish at the White Stork Synagogue.

Gregor Gowans

The founder and editor of Wroclaw Uncut, Gregor has been running the website since its inception in 2012. A Wroclawian for almost 10 years, Gregor writes on a wide variety of topics including, food & drink, nightlife, local news and politics. He is also a regular guest on Radio Ram's Sunday lunch programme.

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