Poland’s Independence Day this Saturday will be marked by one of the biggest demonstrations led by fascists in Europe. The “Independence March”, held annually in the capital Warsaw, has attracted tens of thousands in recent years.
The march is a showpiece event for fascists in Poland. And fascists from neighbouring Slovakia and Hungary and elsewhere plan to join it in a sign of growing confidence on the far right in eastern Europe.
A much smaller march, organised by rival Nazis in the south western city of Wroclaw, will be attended by Jayda Fransen of Britain First.
Organisers of the Warsaw march include the National Radical Camp, National Movement and All Polish Youth, groups with deeply antisemitic roots. They are able to mobilise such numbers because of the super-patriotic atmosphere surrounding the day.
This means that many who will be marching are not fascists and don’t get involved in other far right protests. Anti-fascists outnumbered a Nazi march of fewer than 200 in Warsaw in April and blocked their route several times.
US Nazi Richard Spencer pulled out of speaking at the Warsaw march following opposition from the Polish foreign ministry.
This does not mean that Poland's right wing racist government, led by the Law and Justice party, is opposed to the fascists.
Ruling party politicians have financed coaches to transport Nazis to demonstrations. And the government line, transmitted through the state broadcaster, is that fascists are merely “young patriots”.
This week the state broadcaster encouraged people to attend the Warsaw march even though it’s not part of the official independence celebrations.
And the government’s policies have fed the fascists. It attacks women’s and LGBT+ people’s rights in the name of defending the “family” and has been scapegoating refugees and Muslims in the wake of the refugee crisis.
Donald Trump has praised the Polish government’s “defence of Western civilisation”.
The Independence March on 11 November will be a great encouragement for the Nazis, but a coalition of organisations is planning a counter demonstration.
Those involved include some of the women who organised the massive pro-choice demonstrations last year, left wing organisations, anarchists and a small number of trade unionists.
The anti-fascist counter demonstration will be smaller. But it is vital to build the left and opposition to the fascists until such time when we can outnumber and defeat them—even on Independence Day.