Over the last ten days, Poland was again the scene of a fierce struggle of the left for the historical memory of our society. Extreme right-wing wants to erase memory of social struggles which are inherently connected with our history.
March 1 has been the Day of „Cursed Soldiers” for several years. Under this catchy name we get an attempt by the right to appropriate a large fragment of modern Polish history. The name 'cursed soldiers' refers to partisans who, after the end of World War II, after the signing of capitulation by Nazi Germany and after the cessation of hostilities throughout Europe, did not agree with how post-war Europe was divided into spheres of influence. While the historians may discuss personal tragedies of some of those soldiers and partisans who set out to fight for their dream of free Poland, or who did not get out of forest fighting due to fear of being arrested by new authorities, there is no doubt that the vast majority of the inhabitants of postwar Poland just wanted to live in peace. And the 'Cursed Soldiers' did not let them do that. The anticommunist partisan troops largely became bandit groups that committed many war crimes. The current right-wing government is trying to make them flawless heroes, against historical evidence. The Polish left is opposed to the heroization of these people.
It is worth remembering that an important element supporting the right-wing historical narrative is the The Polish Institute of National Remembrance, an institution that combines elements of the Orwellian Ministry of Thought, falsifying recent history and building a completely untrue assessment of the last 50 years of Polish history. It has nothing to do with the objective study of history. Recently, only after many days of brawls and objections, not only Polish but also international, the outright fascist and extreme nationalist was dismissed from the post of director of one of the IPN’s field divisions. It was a big success, but a dismissal of one man does not change the general perspective: there are still dozens of politicians ready to praise the right-wing partisans and forget or smear the memory of the others.
It is the Polish right’s specialty to remain silent about inconvenient facts from the recent history of Poland and the struggle of the left for human rights. On 1 March, 10 years passed since the murder of the tenant’s activist, Jolanta Brzeska, burned alive. The perpetrators of this cruel murder have never been found, the law enforcement agencies of the right-wing Polish state did not make any effort. The picket with demands to find the perpetrators and speed up the investigation, gathered many supporters who remember Jolanta Brzeska. The police identified the participants of the picket and threatened to bring the case to court, under guise of strict pandemic restrictions.
However, the left wing in Poland achieved a spectacular success last week. The Supreme Court decided that, however, of the most dangerous and radical right-wing groups of the extreme right, The National Radical Camp, is a fascist organization. This is a very important sentence that allows them to position their racist and hateful slogans and the ideology they refer to unambiguously – as fascist. MEPs from the parliamentary left are preparing a motion to ban this dangerous organisation.
The right wing, however, does not lay down its arms. Now on private initiative, a foundation praising the 'cursed soldiers' announced a fundraising campaign to search for the remains of members of these clandestine groups. When asked whom exactly they intended to find and rebury… they could not really explain.
Last week we celebrated the important 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the most important Polish revolutionaries – Rosa Luxemburg. Strajk reminded this outstanding figure and the important role she played in the history of the progressive world.
The left-wing party Razem proposed that a square in Wrocław be named after her.
Translated into English by Wojciech Łobodziński.
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