Sun Oct 30th, 2005 at 01:26:33 AM EST
A Polish tabloid newspaper has obtained photos of the LPR's youth wing cadres, including an MP, posing with Nazi salutes while in a pub. After various laughable defenses - 'they were just ordering another pint' - the LPR's leader, Roman Giertych, actually spoke the truth when he defended them by pointing out that in 1930's Poland many 'national' (narodowe) groups used that salute. Indeed, Romek, indeed - and that's the problem.
Giertych was actually making the standard argument that the Polish interwar fasicsts weren't fascists because they were anti-Nazi and fought them in WWII. That is mostly correct but woefully simplistic. The Polish fascists hated Germans, thus they hated and feared the Nazis. Hated them because they were German, feared them because they believed that they were strengthening Germany. However, they also believed that the Nazis were a model to be followed, with some slight modifications for Polish conditions - in other words they wanted a Polish road to fascism. Anybody who's bothered to take even just a cursory look at the writings of 1930's Polish fascism, including those of Giertych's grandfather and political mentor Jedrzej, can have no doubt about that - they were loud and clear about their objectives.
As Giertych's words indicate, Poland has a party which proudly proclaims itself as the resurrected version of 1930's fascism. And our new president has recently said that while he does have certain significant policy differences with the LPR, he respects them as 'god-fearing Poles' who support 'Polish values' and indeed they might even be morally superior to himself.
The Pan-Polish Youth (Mlodziez Wszechpolska - think Allpolnische Jugend), named after an interwar Polish fascist youth group, was founded by Giertych around 1990. In a power move he made sure that about half of the LPR's current deputies are recent LPR activists in their twenties and early thirties. It has repeatedly been the source of scandals. Just this year a newspaper revealed that the MW's internet bookstore was basically a greatest hits list of interwar Polish fascism and radical anti-semitism. Like in this case the initial defense was that they are just seeking to allow their members to learn about their ideological history. Then they backed down and removed the books from the site under threat of a criminal investigation. Other journalists investigated them and found that Giertych presides over rallies with MW members in militaristic formation, swearing eternal loyalty and obedience to their leader. The MW has a policy of attacking any gay event or march, and when I say attack I mean that literally. Earlier this year they helped organize a little rally in honour of a leading interwar antisemite on the anniversary and site of one of the worst pogroms of the thirties.
This just to make people understand why I have the tedious habit of always complaining whenever there's a link to an article that describes the LPR as 'conservative nationalists' or 'Catholic nationalists.' I wish that were the case and that Poland had no significant neo-fascist movement, but unfortunately it does. And that is also a major reason why I can't stand the Kaczynski twins. Not that they themselves are in any way fascist - they really are just conservative nationalists. I haven't read any indications that they harbour sympathies for Poland's fascist tradition and people who know them that I've spoken with assure me that they don't even in private. But they have no problem with praising them and offering them power, whether in the form of coalitions or by coopting some of them into their own party. And that is unforgivable.
* The term 'narodowe' generally translated as 'national' has a dual meaning in Polish. On the one hand it really does mean 'national' but it also refers to a specific ideological tradition of the Polish right - National Democracy (Narodowa Demokracja, Endecja) - which started out at the very end of the nineteenth century as a proto-fascist movement. Most, though by no means all of its various strands became full blown fascists at some point in the twenties and thirties. When Giertych used the term he clearly meant the latter definition.