A mural in Nowy Dwór commemorating the NSZ military group will be modified due to residents complaining about its “Death to the enemies of the homeland” slogan.
The mural also depicts a soldier of the NSZ, as well as the badge of the military organisation. It was created by one of the Śląsk Wrocław Ultras groups.
Poland’s Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ) was an anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet military organization that formed part of Poland’s World War II resistance movement. Following WW2, the group and some of the so-called ‘Cursed Soldiers’ continued an underground battle against the communist regime.
Until the last decade the story of the soldiers had largely been banished from history textbooks. This lack of focus on the Cursed Soldiers galvanised the nationalistic community in Poland, with many right-wing Ultras groups successfully campaigning in football stadiums for the “heroic” Cursed Soldiers to be included in the school curriculum.
In the last few years the situation has drastically changed. Nowadays the Cursed Soldiers have no shortage of attention; many streets and public buildings have been named after them, while there are plenty of products that bear their image and name.
A number of films and tv shows have also been made about the soldiers, some of which have been criticised for presenting a “mythical” image. One example is Jerzy Zalewski’s Historia Roja, which was slammed by critics for a scene in which a Cursed Soldier uses the power of prayer to avoid being stung by a swarm of bees (see the clip below).
Although most Poles appear to view the soldiers as heroes, there are others that feel differently about the their legacy. The soldiers have been accused of murdering Jews as well as citizens of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
Despite the NSZ and the Cursed Soldiers dividing opinion, it seems that it is the language used in the mural that has offended people – not the subject of the mural itself.
Jarosław Śliwek, who is in charge of the neighbourhood estate, told tuwroclaw.com on Tuesday that the estate “do not want to see such slogans”. Śliwek also added that If the slogan isn’t removed, the “lease for the building will be terminated”.
The move comes roughly a month after the murder of Gdańsk President Paweł Adamowicz, which sparked heavy debate across the country on the subject of hate speech.
Although the phrase “Death to the enemies of the homeland” is a reference to the NSZ and the battles against the Nazis and the Soviets, many fear its use in a modern context could have fatal consequences.
Nowadays many extreme-right wing groups describe a number of different people as being “enemies”. Therefore some fear that the use of the aforementioned phrase could encourage someone to kill a person (e.g. of a particular religion, colour, sexual orientation or politicial affiliation) who could be considered an enemy.
Naturally, nationalists have been angered by the estate’s decision on the mural. Writing on Facebook, an NSZ fanpage said that the mural had to be taken down due to “pressure from leftist circles” and asked the question “who are the Polish heroes disturbing?”.