On Sunday Poland will not only celebrate its Independence Day, but the 100th anniversary of the country becoming independent again.
In this article we’ll take a short look at the history and fill you in on some of the day’s events.
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 take place on pl. Wolności between 9.30am and 12.30pm.
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.
Independence Day Moustache Run
Starting at the Olympic Stadium at 11am is the Independence day Run.
The course covers a distance of 10 km, during which the participants will pay their respects to Józef Piłsudski by dawning 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 Kombi and Lady Pank.
Tickets cost between 55 and 80zł; you can buy them on eventim.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: 9.00am, 10.30am, 11.30am and 1.30pm. 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 Great Independent Poland (banned but will go ahead anyway)
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 originally 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 who have been heavily involved in the annual marches 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.
Last year the main organiser of the march was the “Great Independent Poland” association, which is run by former priest Jacek Międlar.
Back in 2016 Międlar was accused of calling Jews a “cancer” who had “swept Poland”. In addition, the former priest has been a key speaker at protests against both Muslim and Ukrainian immigration. On top of that, Międlar has cooperated very closely with Piotr Rybak – the man who infamously burned an effigy of a Jew on Wrocław Rynek back in November 2015.
More recently, Międlar released his own book, titled “My Fight For The Truth”. In the book Międlar allegedly refers to the pogrom in Jedwabne as a “perfidious Jewish lie“. In Międlar’s own words, the book also contains parts on “Jewish-tribal genocide” and an “anti-Polish propaganda war”.
In 2017 participants at the march called for Poland to pull out of the EU and break free from the “Brussels Occupation”. This year the march has been labelled “Life and death for our Nation”. According to the organisers, “all Poles who care for the good of our homeland” are welcome.
At the demonstration the organisers will show their “strong opposition to anti-Polishism”, which they claim is “gaining in size and has tormented the capital of Lower Silesia for years”. The march starts at 17.00 by Wroclaw main train station and finishes on the Rynek.
Back in 2015 a record crowd of over 10,000 people took part in the March Of The Patriots, however that number has dipped in the last couple of years.
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 xenophobic attitudes. Therefore there are a reasonable 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.
Protest against fascism
At 5pm in front of Barbara where Świdnicka street meets Kazimierza Wielkiego, various organisations will gather to protest against Międlar’s march. So if you are opposed to the ideologies propagated at the march organised by Jacek Międlar, this is the place to be.