14 Nov 2017

The 12 women who stood up to thousands of nationalists

When 60,000 marched to celebrate Polish independence on 11 November, 12 women rose to face them with a sign that read "Stop Fascism".

Joanna Wrózynska
Joanna Wrózynska Wysokie Obcasy, Global
Source: Wysokie Obcasy
The 12 women who stood up to thousands of nationalists - NewsMavens
Independence Day March in Warsaw. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

On 11 November, marches marking the anniversary of Poland regaining its independence were held across the country. The biggest of them was in Warsaw, where, according to official figures, some 60,000 people marched. Most of them were associated with Poland's nationalist organizations, the All-Poland Youth and the National Radical Camp. Across from them stood 12 brave women with a sign which read: "Stop Fascism". They were beaten, spat on and abused.

The women were led by Ewa Błaszczyk of the anti-government Citizens of the Polish Republic group which has long opposed illegal and unconstitutional activities in Poland. 11 other women followed her lead. Among them were: an anesthesiologist, a psychologist, an English language translator, a lawyer -- who had had enough of nationalist marches through Polish cities. They decided to act alone, without the help of any men, because they feared the aggressive crowd would see the men defending themselves and their peaceful protest would turn into a brutal battle. So they met in secret, made their "Stop Fascism" banner and blended into the crowd. And when they rolled out their banner during the march, the physical and verbal assaults began. 1 of the 12 had to be driven to the hospital.

The women say it was not their intention to single-handedly stop the "All Poland" march. Rather, they wanted to reveal the true nature of the so-called patriots, people who claim to love the fatherland but also fuel radical hatred toward anyone who is in any way different from them.

"Defending your country is beautiful, but being loving for the good of your country is even more beautiful."

They also point to the role of women in raising the next generation, because, as they say, "nationalism and fascist tendencies are not something that pops up suddenly". 

Learn more about the twelve women who challenged nationalism in Poland from Wysokie Obcasy's profile below.

Details from the story:

  • Independence Day marches were held throughout Poland on 11 November
  • The largest saw some 60,000 people march in Warsaw.
  • They lit flares and chanted slogans such as "Not Islamic, not secular, only Catholic Poland", "Death to enemies of the fatherland", "Take hammer and sickle to the red rabble", "Boy, girl, normal family", "Pedophiles, lesbos, gays, all of Poland laughs at you". They carried banners which read: "Europe will be white or uninhabited".
  • 45 people were detained during the march in Warsaw -- all of them members of an anti-fascist Citizens of the Polish Republic counter-rally

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