Poland saw a massive demonstration of tens of thousands of nationalists taking to the streets of Warsaw over the weekend honoring “God, family and Fatherland” after recent election wins have sent the country on a more globalist path simultaneously as the war continues in nearby Ukraine.
In a march organized by nationalist groups as Poland celebrated its Independence Day holiday, 105 years after the nation regained its statehood at the end of World War I, Warsaw participants carried Poland’s white-and-red flag and some burned flares as they marched along a route leading from the city center to the National Stadium.
While many patriotic events take place across the nation of 38 million on Nov. 11, The Associated Press assessed that the yearly Independence March “has come to dominate news coverage because it has sometimes been marred by xenophobic slogans and violence.” About 40,000 attended this year and the event passed off peacefully, the Warsaw mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, said.
Jack Posobiec, senior editor for Human Events, shared aerial footage of the massive Warsaw crowds to his more than 2.3 million followers on X, formerly Twitter. “Patriots took [to] the streets of Poland today. Honoring God, Family, and Fatherland. This is what the globalists seek to destroy,” he wrote.
The account End Wokeness, which has 1.8 million followers, shared the same video, writing, “POLAND, TODAY: Hundreds of thousands take to the streets to celebrate their country. Is this what it’s like to live in a country that has borders and a national identity?”
The march this year also comes amid recent tensions with Ukraine and the European Union. Reacting to the march in Warsaw, Dr. Samuel Ramani, a tutor of international relations at Oxford University, wrote to his 213,500 followers on X, “Zelensky [emphasized] Poland and Ukraine’s friendship on November 11. Tensions still persist. Poland is pushing for Ukrainian truck volume restrictions at the border and the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry is trying to break the impasse.”
Football supporters were prominent among the Warsaw marchers, some holding banners with far-right slogans. One group brought EU and LGBTQ+ flags to stomp on and one rainbow flag was burned, the AP reported. However, many families also took part, and there were no arrests. Police removed climate protesters who placed themselves along the route of the march.
In a national election last month, Polish officials say voters turned out in huge numbers to embrace centrist, moderate conservative and left-wing parties after eight years of rule by a nationalist conservative party that was at odds with the European Union.
The far-right Confederation party, which is ideologically linked to the Independence March, won just 18 seats in the 460-seat Sejm, the Polish parliament. Meanwhile, Law and Justice, the ruling right-wing nationalist party whose leaders joined the march in the past, won the most votes but fell short of a parliamentary majority.
Donald Tusk, the winning coalition’s candidate to be the next prime minister, appealed for national unity in a message on X, stressing that the holiday is one that belongs to all Poles.
“If someone uses the word nation to divide and sow hatred, he is acting against the nation,” said Tusk, who did not join the march. “Today our nation is celebrating independence. The whole nation, all of Poland.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issues a statement wishing the Polish president and nation a Happy Independence Day, writing, “Ukraine and Poland are united in freedom and will always be together – in the EU, NATO and in all decisive moments of our common history.”
“Our nations are united by a common goal and the value of freedom. Whenever we were on the same side, we changed history for the better and won together. Together we are at least twice as strong!” Zelenskyy wrote. “Ukrainians will never lose their sense of gratitude towards Poland and will always appreciate the help of Poles in the most difficult moment of Russian aggression.”
“The Polish nation helped Ukraine survive. I am grateful for the respect shown to all Ukrainians to whom Poles gave shelter and opened their homes to them,” he said. “A strong partnership between our nations, forever free, makes us and all of our Europe stronger!”
The Independence Day holiday celebrates the restoration of Poland’s national sovereignty in 1918, at the end of World War I and after 123 years of rule by Prussia, Austria and Russia.
“For us, Poles, this day of Nov. 11 is a day of joy, a day of pride, a day of glory, a day when we remember with emotion that after 123 years of non-existence, our country, Poland, was reborn,” said President Andrzej Duda in a speech at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Duda warned that Russian imperialism once again threatens not just Ukraine but the wider region.
“Russian imperialism will go further: it will want to seize more nations, taking away their freedom and their states,” Duda said.
The AP also noted, “The march has in the past drawn far-right sympathizers from other European countries, including Hungary and Italy. Among those taking part this year was Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First, a small far-right party in the U.K.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.