Shouting slogans that included “Death to the Jews” and “LGBT, pedophiles, Zionists — enemies of Poland”, hundreds of ultra-nationalists took over the center of a provincial Polish town on Thursday to mark their country’s independence day with a brazenly antisemitic demonstration.
The scenes at Thursday’s demonstration in Kalisz, a city of 100,000 in central Poland, shocked even veteran observers of the Polish far-right. “They were chanting ‘Death, Death, Death’ and ‘Death to the Jews’,” Rafal Pankowski — executive director of the “Never Again” Association, a Polish anti-racist NGO — told The Algemeiner on Friday.
“In more than 25 years of monitoring antisemitism in Poland, I have never seen anything like this,” Pankowski added.
The centerpiece of the demonstration was the ceremonial burning of the medieval statute for which Kalisz is famed that granted legal protections to the Jews in the historic Duchy of Greater Poland.
One speaker at the rally, far-right activist Piotr Rybak, attacked what he called a “Polish-speaking rabble” who were plotting against “Poles in their own homeland.” His voice reaching fever pitch, Rybak pledged to “chase this Polish-speaking mob to Israel, just like we did in 1968” — a reference to the antisemitic campaign of that year launched by the former Communist Party regime under the guise of rooting out “Zionists.”
Another speaker, Wojciech Olszanski, bellowed that “LGBTers, pedophiles, Zionists are the enemies of Poland!” Throughout the event, the crowd chanted slogans including “Death to the Jews,” “Death to the Enemies of the Motherland,” and “Once with a sickle, sometimes a hammer, the Red Rabble” — a reference to the widely-believed myth among Polish nationalists that Jews were responsible for the installation of Communist Party rule following World War II.