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“For Adolf Hitler and our country – three times Sieg Heil!”. Those words came from prime time TV program in Poland recently. And it was not a historical movie. It was a recent documentary in which undercover reporters invigilated Polish neo-Nazi movement. They were invited to celebrate 128th birthday of the Fuhrer of the Third Reich by “Polish National Socialists from Wodzisław Śląski”, that is by the people connected to one of the numerous right wing organizations that recently pop up across Poland like daffodils in spring.
Honestly speaking, I felt a bit sorry for those morons, as their meeting of ten or so people, who gathered in secret somewhere in the forest to set a swastika made of old planks and rags on fire and eat a swastika cake could be at best a pathetic parody of their dream of joining the ranks of proud citizens of the glorious third Reich. But the real problem is, that those are the people who are setting narration in Poland. Just to mention that those fans of Adolf Hitler were amongst the same people, who recently hanged portraits of the polish MEP’s from the gallows. Member of the same organization is an aide to one of the right wing MP. He is aware that some of his colleagues had troubles with the law regarding their neo-Nazi activity, but he is not too concerned, especially that he is not aware about their activities at present. The organization they are members of has issued a statement in which it expresses its gratitude to the reporters for giving them some publicity and mock the public for “not being able to distinguish between what the organization does, and what it’s member do after hours”. As, apparently, if you are Nazi in your spare time, then it is OK, and you can still be an activist of a “public service organization” that aims to “spread national tradition, cultivate Polishness and develop national consciouness” during office hours. As, you know, being fan of Adolf Hitler and a Polish patriot is not contradictory, at all.
The problem here is, that those people are today dominating the narration in Poland. While their out-of-hours interest sometimes make it into the actions they organize – like those cries “Sieg Heil” made into the recent Independence March – but during daytime they put on the hat of the Polish nationalists and patriots, concerned with the future of their homeland. And, as we wrote in Britske Listy many times before, the current government if not openly supports them, then at least tolerates their actions. That allows them to reach the mainstream, and this rotten fruits spoils our everyday political discourse. Because some obscure neo-Nazis hanging portraits of Róża Thun from the gallow is one, but when one of deputy speakers of the European Parliament, Ryszard Czarnecki, call her a “szmalcownik”, then we have a problem. Because “szmalcownik” is a word used during the Nazi occupation to describe people, who were extorting money from Jews or people who were hiding Jews, or who were grassing up on them to Germans. The underground Polish state was taking very harsh stand on such people, many of them were sentenced in absence to death by the underground courts, and the executions were carried out by the special units of the Home Army.
Therefore calling an opposition MEP with this name for her part in an Arte TV documentary about Polish problems with rule of law is at least outrageous. But Ryszard Czarnecki can’t see anything wrong with his words. According to him, this is a right description of someone, who acts against his homeland. The problem is, that Czarnecki can’t understand that Poland and his current party is not the same thing yet. I say “current party”, as he is known for being ready to join any organization, that has chance to get to power, including Polish Olympic Commitee, and he has the most extensive CV of the all major politicians. Apart from that he managed to put both of his sons in cosy jobs, and nobody knows how he managed to carry his, allegedly very important work in Brussels, if his face can be seen in almost every political program in major Polish TV stations or at the press conferences in the building of the Polish parliament…
Anyway, the fact that Poland and PiS are, at least so far, not the same thing yet is obvious for the EU politicians, so they believe that Róza Thun had right to criticize PiS action, even in foreign TV channel. Therefore Czarnecki words were commonly considered to be way off the mark, and it has been rumoured that he might lost his job as one of the deputy speakers of the EU parliament. He called army of internet trolls to arms, and the mailboxes of MEP’s were flooded with e-mails defending Czarnecki, but this idea has backfired, as other MEP having to plod through approx 1300 spam e-mails each were not amused. Danish MEP Jens Rhode even demanded apologies from Czarnecki for distrupting work of the offices of the parliament members. We will see what Czarnecki’s fate will be in early February.
Meanwhile, one of recurring characters of this series, prof. Bogdan Chazan, a gynecologist and fierce opponent of abortion, shared his views on who should be responsible for killing unborn babies. According to him, the full force of law should be applied not only to the doctor performing the procedure and the midwife, but also to a taxi driver, who drove the mother to the clinic. I wonder how he imagine that: should every taxi driver ask the women entering his cab what is the purpose of the ride? And what about those, who decide to go to the clinic by bus? Should the driver interrogate every single female passenger?
Strangely enough, prof. Chazan does not postulate to prosecute historical cases of abortion. Could it be because, as he himself admits, he himself performed about 500 abortions back in 1980’s? Surely, if we believe his words that every fetus is a human, that would make him one of the biggest murderers in Polish history? Who know, perhaps some neo-nazi would even like to celebrate his birthday by burning crosses in the forest or something?
Luckily, nowadays such terrible homicides does not take places in Polish health service any more. Today the worst crime is slavery. See, after underpaid and overworked young doctors cancelled their opt-out agreements, in which they agreed to exceed the regular number of working hours, some hospitals, like in this one in Wrocław, go to the extreme in order to ensure, that their patients will be cared for. Here, after most of the staff resigned from those opt-out claims and now can work no more than 48 hours per week, the management cancelled all holidays, training, participation in conferences and work placements. They also grant themselves right to keep doctors on duty for as much as 24 hours a time. This is just a short step to the postulate expressed during previous government of PiS, where doctors also were on strike. Back then one of the closest people to Kaczyński brothers said, that if they don’t get back to work on their own good will, they will be conscripted to army and forced to work. Another minister added, that they might be hold responsible for putting patients’ lives in danger. As we can see, over a decade went back, and PiS still can’t think about any other way to solve the crisis in the Polish health service.
The world of art is faced with different problems. In the interview in TVP, Zbigniew M. Dowgiałło, a painter and an expert in the Ministry of Culture, complained that after 25 years of freedom, Polish art is still not visible in the world as much as it deserves. He proposed a far fetched reform of the Polish art. According to him, the problem with the Polish art is that the cultural circles are dominated by leftists. So it’s enough to change the cadres (ok, we can leave them one small museum, why not?), and the Polish art will conquer the world. Poland deserves to have 10% share in world’s art market! So brace yourselves, Polish not-leftist art is coming, and if you want to have a taste of what to expect, the photos of the famous Dowgiałło’s painting symbolically depicting plane crash in Smoleńsk can be seen here.
But for now Polish government has more important issues to deal with. Finally, we are going to help the refugees. Not that we are going to take any, of course, but Beata Kempa, our Minister for Humanitarian Aid and Refugee Crisis (yes, we are yet again having record number of ministers) went for a reconnaissance expedition. She and her entourage (including right wing journalists) flew government plane and stayed in luxury hotels in Jordan for several days. They met some Jordanian officials and visited refugee camps. The costs of the plane flight itself is estimated at more than 100 000 zł while minister delivered a humanitarian help worth 130 000 zł, so the whole matter is ridiculed by the media. But I still give her a benefit of the doubt. After all, this is only a first step, they needed to see what help can be delivered on the ground. “Perhaps indeed Poland’s actions in this field so far were not so great as those of some other European countries, but it is our ambition to expand our humanitarian aid, especially in those regions that are flooded with refugees, that is in Jordan and Liban” – she said. Minister Kempa, I hope for once if you talk the talk, you are gonna to walk the walk.
And who knows, it might be a good deal for Poland as well. See, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk is often accused of his fondness to drive luxury cars while being very reluctant to disclose any of his finances, so we don’t really know (apart from all of those hefty government grants) where all of his wealth comes from. He addressed this matter once during the interview in his TV station and he said, that two luxury cars were given to him by a homeless man, a certain Stanisław, who unfortunately died shortly after making this generous donation. I have to say, that even Al Capone was not so creative, but it is also possible that Father Rydzyk was simply joking. We will probably never know, Poe’s law applies here. But if that is true, and one homeless man can generously give two luxury cars, then just imagine how much wealth can Poland gather from those millions of homeless refugees in Jordan!
But it is also possible, that Polish sudden will to help the refugees is the attempt of prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to change perception of Poland amongst his European partners. They are trying to fix what they damaged in other fields as well – in Białowieża forest for example, they are repairing a deep tracks left by heavy harvesting machinery. Sadly, they do it by filling them with rubble and garbage, but at least they try. Perhaps one day they will also do something to curtail recklessness of the hunters, but so far nothing has changed in that field yet. In yet another dangerous case, a ricochet bullet from the hunters rifle penetrated a house, missing it’s inhabitants by just a few inches. As usual, the case was swiftly closed after it was established, that nobody was hurt, and the hunter didn’t wanted to kill anyone. In other words, if you go for the walk to the forest during the hunt, you can be fined. But if you are hunter, and due to your carelessness someone was two inches from death, you won’t even get a slap in the wrist.
So this is reality of life in Poland nowadays. You can’t feel safe from the hunters even in hour own home. You can always try to run to the woods, but there you can be met not only by hunters but also by neo-Nazis celebrating their love for Adolf Hitler. And if you go to the town, you might meet there not only both hunters trying to shot wild boars in the housing estates and Nazis marching the streets, but what might be even worse, bump onto exhibition of mr Dowgiałło paintings. There is no escape!
This piece was written for Britske Listy
Picture: Public Domain via Pixabay
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