Poland broke my heart

I want to go back to feeling I can be both Polish and Jewish, but Poland is making that increasingly difficult. The main obstacle for me aren’t the fascists themselves. It’s Poles who watched the march and did nothing.

I wasn’t there, but I can still smell the smoke. The chants ring in my ears and when I picture the banners, my blood steams. 60,000 nationalists and fascists marched in central Warsaw and no one blinked. They were happy. It was a celebration of Polish history! It is not a crime to love your country.

I am tired. These events eat at me. I’m worried that I hate myself, that I too am guilty of anti-Semitism. See, I am Jewish and I am Polish. My Catholic father was born here, in Poland, and met my Sephardic Jewish mother while she was studying in New York. Regardless, I am just as Polish as any of those fascists, so why do I feel more unwelcome than they do?

My grandparents told me stories of Polish heroism. About efforts to save Jews and sabotage against fascists. They left out Kielce and Jedwabne and the fact that housing blocks in Krakow have Jewish stars crossed out on walls. To them none of this is proof of anti-Semitism, just miscommunication. Polish elders always made excuses and expected that I would defend them to other Jews. And I did, for years. I was taught to be adamant about Poland’s innocence. I failed to imagine Polish Jew hatred. Youthful naivety. That’s what bothered me most about the march. It was everything I had said could never happen in Poland.

This march showed a rift that I didn’t know was there. My mom emailed me expressing her fears. My dad defended it as a hijacked gathering of nationalists. They marched with signs calling for a white Europe. For a second holocaust. For the removal of ethnic minorities. This wasn’t hijacked, it was meant to be this way.

The day after, we Poles had to condemn the march. Anything less would be a tacit acceptance of its message. I was confident that Catholic cousins would stand up for me. None of them did.  I asked my grandmother about the march. She felt that it was overblown and it would be unfair to categorize everyone there as fascist. I was stunned. And now I’m angry.

Today, I stand between two identities, unsure how to move on. The march showed that Poland has never really dealt with systemic antisemitism and I feel like people are minimizing how far reaching it actually is. They call fascists ridiculous and of marginal importance. The problem is that they’re not silly; they’re deadly serious. I want to go back to feeling I can be both Polish and Jewish, but Poland is making that increasingly difficult.

The main obstacle for me aren’t the fascists themselves. It’s Poles who watched the march and did nothing. It’s my relatives who insist that those who march behind racist banners and shout anti-Semitic slogans are actually just guilty of being tricked. It’s the political cover granted to fascists marching with children. It’s people who don’t want to recognize that Poland has a problem with racism.

Roman Broszkowski is an undergraduate International Politics student from New Jersey. His area of study is Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Photo by Jakub Szafrański.

I can’t pretend that I saw the march like everyone else. Unlike foreign Jews, I didn’t think that this march represented Poles or even the vast majority of Poles. And unlike Catholic Poles, I couldn’t see this as a small, irrelevant nationalist demonstration. Both of my identities saw it as fascists staking their claim in the heart of Poland. They wanted to define what Polish patriotism looked like and both groups, Jews and Poles, let them. By reacting with fear and derision, Jews abroad are fuelling fascist ideas of an isolated Poland. Similarly by providing them with excuses and cover, Poles are letting fascists operate with impunity.

I refuse to be treated like a guest in my homeland and fascists do not get a monopoly on patriotism. More Poles need to call out racism when it appears in our society. I was raised believing that I would always have a place in Poland. The march questions that. Now it’s up to Poles to answer what they prefer.


Roman Broszkowski
Roman Broszkowski is an undergraduate International Politics student from New Jersey. His area of study is Eastern Europe and the Middle East.


  1. ///60,000 nationalists and fascists marched in central Warsaw and no one blinked. They were happy.

    And I am So Proud that I Was One Of them. Thanks for insulting me and at least 99.5% of all those who participated.

    ///Regardless, I am just as Polish as any of those fascists,

    Again thanks for insulting ten thousands of people as fascists. By the way this insulting was hurled at Polish Patriots and Democrats by the criminal communists.

    ///They wanted to define what Polish patriotism looked like and both groups, Jews and Poles, let them

    Yeah right you’re just angry that it’s not you and your ilk that can define what Polish patriotism/identity means.

    ///I was raised believing that I would always have a place in Poland. The march questions that. Now it’s up to Poles to answer what they prefer.

    I prefer hardcore leftists not to live in Poland. I don’t care of they are Jewish or whatever.

    By the way if you come back to your senses and want to be a productive member of the Polish national community and work for its benefit- you’re welcome to do so. According to the mainstream ideology of Polish nationalism. See:https://ruchnarodowy.net/declaration-national-community-and-national-identity/

  2. I feel bad for you, that you’re one of the few Poles who became brainwashed by the leftist media. You decided to believe what fake news liberal media. They labeled all 60,000 who marched as nazis and fascists because of the actions and banners of a select few. The only reason they’re going after Poland now labeling them as racists is because our government refuses to accept forced migrant quotas, because they actually CARE ABOUT IT’S PEOPLE!!! It’s your own fault for feeling the way you do because you chose to be tricked into believing bs liberal news. If you don’t like it there then leave, but if you choose to stay (as is your right since it is your home), try not to label a whole country for the actions of a few. Should listen more to your father and grandparents and stop acting like a complete clueless moron.

  3. Exactly. Polish goverment should ban that march as they ban ALL of the Refugees for being Islamic terrorist(!). Or they have to agree with refugees living in Poland and do nothing with a march. Otherwise it’s a hypocrisy and double standards. Because not everyone of the refugees are islamic terrorist and not everyone from the march are neonazis.

    1. yea or maybe it’s just not the same situation?? While there were def some bad/racist people in the crowd, they’re all Polish citizens and have a right to free speech. You’re correct in saying that not all the refugees are terrorists, but until there’es a proven way to distinguish which ones are and which ones aren’t there’s no reason to let them in. Polish governments duty is to protect it’s citizens and that’s what it’s doing.

      1. Ok. Imagine a hipothetical sytuation. The War with Islamic Terrorism is over and the world is finally free of Islamism. Forty years later new people started propaganda similar to ISIS and organize themselves. Would you let them do it, because of their right to free speech and the fact that it’s 2057, not 2017? And if goverment can distinguish which one from the crowd of marches of independence is bad/racist (as you said), they can do it with refugees too. EOT

    1. Not exactly. The author is distressed about the sight of Polish patriots, who don’t want to see their country end up like the “multicultural paradise” that is France, Germany or heaven forbid Sweden. The Polish nation knows well the value of Freedom, having fought centuries to obtain and preserve it. Every country on this planet is entitled to it’s own soverignty. The Polish nation doesn’t need to answer to globalists, especially undergrad students. The author should understand that “Poland is for Poles”. If he wants to identify as a jew first, then that’s his problem.

      1. He doesn’t write about any other country or any political viewpoint.

        He just writes that he is Polish and that his heart is broken when he feels rejected in his own country. Not for what he has done but for what he is.

        And as written before: Your comments illustrate his point very strongly. You write “Poland is for Poles” and with that you try to take away is right to be/feel as an equal Polish citizen.

        And on a personal note: Even if you have the belief that only “true” Poles can voice their opinion about Poland, you should have the decency to understand why he feels heartbroken about this.

        1. Yea sorry bud but Mr. Banka is correct here. The march was about love for our country, that’s it. Just because the author decided to believe the bs liberal media is his own dumbass fault. Only liberal snowflakes would believe articles labeling all 60,000 as fascist nazis because of the actions of a select few.

        2. He just writes that he is Polish and that his heart is broken when he feels rejected in his own country.

          That’s actually how I felt during the staunchly anti patriotic and criminally incompetent former governments.

          1. That is only fair – and we are living in a democracy where you can vote for change.

            And if you have been publicly attacked because of your religion or family-background (like in this example by banners during a demonstration) then this was equally despicable! (especially if other people reinforced these attacks with their comments).

  4. There were 60 thousand people marching and several thousand of those were neonazis. The majority was just normal people, families. It was an Independence Day celebration.

    1. I can’t understant how it is possible to be ‘normal’ and to march together with neonazis. Those things do not go together.

      1. Pretty simple actually. You go to a rally that thousands of others are attending. While you’re their a couple hundred far right protesters show up with banners you know nothing about and boom you get called a Nazi.

      2. Freedom of speech? Not that current Polish government is a champion of it. Promoting Nazi and communist ideologies is illegal there. The Neonazis know it and trade lightly not to fall under that classifucation. Again not that the current government is eager to prove cute those who brak the law. There were several cases of violations of laws against hate speech that the government are not interested in prosecuting. On the positive side there are people in the streets in large numbers protesting the far right wing government.

  5. “They left out Kielce and Jedwabne and the fact that housing blocks in Krakow have Jewish stars crossed out on walls.”

    Kielce was a disgrace with no justification. With WW2 memories still running high people were out to get whatever they could. Truly disgusting invent.

    You left out the part where the Jews in Jedwabne welcomed the Soviets with open arms. You left out that while Jews in the west and central part of Poland were dying with their fellow countrymen against the Germans, the Jews in the east (Jedwabne) were helping the Soviets in their invasion. When the Soviets got to Jedwabne one of the first things they did besides throw flowers at invading communists was rip up Polish flags and then fly the red portion to show their solidarity with the USSR. You know what they did next? You left this convenient part out as do most Jews or Polish leftists who like to play the “Poles of the WW2 era were anti-semetic and just as bad as everyone else” card. The Jews in Jedwabne joined the Soviet NKVD. With the Soviet NKVD they helped the communists deport 25,000 ethnic Poles out of the region in cattle cars to Siberia or Central Asia. Most of them died. Many the Soviets just executed in the woods somewhere in a mass grave. People in Jedwabne lost entire families because of the actions of the NKVD with plenty of help from local Jedwabne Jews who were more then willing and eager to rat out any Polish neighbor they possibly could who they suspect may be an enemy to their new found homeland. So, imagine this. You’re a Polish man who has watched his entire family get raped, executed, and deported out of the region he calls home. You know who did it, who the collaborators are, and what community they mostly belong to. This bothers you and eats at you everyday for roughly two years. You think all the time of how you watched your wife get raped, your mother shot, your daughter raped, your father shot, and your son deported to Siberia never to see him again. Then all of a sudden, one day, the Nazis take over the territory and now you have your moment for revenge. Ya, sure, you hate the Nazis too but right now you are focused on revenge. As were 100s of others.

    See, when it comes to Jedwabne, Jews (you) weren’t innocent targets or victims who had done nothing wrong. Jews were perpetrators and collaborators who thought they would have the protection of the USSR for the rest of their time. They got caught with their pants down and got the retaliation they deserved from pissed off Poles who had lost everything once the Nazis took over the area. You dont want to get massacred, don’t collaborate with an enemy power that was raping and killing your neighbors friends and families.

    Regarding Krakow, any idiot would know that crossed out stars of David on walls is about Cracovia and Wisla Krakow football firms fighting each other. Cracovia was founded by Jews, Wisla by police. Hence why during matches Cracovia fans will call Wisla dogs (purgatory term for police in Poland) and Wisla will cal Cracovia Jews or something else anti-semetic.

    1. smart man. this was an interesting read and something i had no idea about. I love ww2 history and polish history. Gonna have to read up a bit more on this. Jestes Polakiem??

      1. A lot of people don’t know about Jewish collaboration with the Soviets in ww2. It was extremely rare, especially in Poland, but it did happen.

        And yes I am.

        1. Would you recommend any books/websites on this topic or polish history overall? Preferably in English as I came to the U.S. when I was 6 years old and my Polish is getting a bit rusty.

          1. Oh man, I have a bunch. First, stay away from anything written by Tomasz Gross. He’s a sensationalist and his work has been rebuked numerous times. He’s only admired now in heavily left leaning circles.

            But I’ll look through my bookshelf and give you some titles when I have time later. I have alot lol.

          2. One of my favorites in Unvanquisjed which is a biography of Jozef Pilsudski. Another is Eagle Unbowed which is about the Polish struggle during ww2. Then there’s Rising 44, Poland, Poland:A history, With Fire and Sword (fiction but important historical context), No Greater Ally, and lastly Color of Courage which is the Auto biography of a a young soldier in the home army of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

            If you can still read enough in Polish I really liked My 13 years in GROM, which is about a soldier’s modern experience in Polish spec ops.

  6. Polish Consul to “NYT” [unpublished = censored!]:
    “Dear Editor,

    I am writing to add some context and to clarify certain statements that appeared in the New York Times’ otherwise balanced report titled “Nationalist March Dominates Poland’s Independence Day” by Megan Specia on 11 November 2017.

    In the past eight years, a Polish not-for-profit association “Independence March,” has organized a popular Poland’s Independence Day march in Warsaw.

    It traditionally draws a large and diverse crowd of around fifty thousand participants, mainly non-organized young people and families with children. It owes its success to a non-partisan nature of the march, which is guaranteed by the association’s by-laws. The officially declared goal of this annual event is “to pay homage to all who contributed to the rebirth of the Polish state after 123 years of captivity, to manifest pride in belonging to the Polish nation, and to promote modern forms of patriotism.” Contrary to the statement in the article, the rally has not been growing. In fact, according to police reports, this year’s march attracted sixty thousand participants, which is fifteen thousand fewer than last year.

    Organized groups and associations that take part in the march form a minority of participants, but a fact that the association’s board consists of activists of “National Movement” party, the march is often labeled by its political competitors on the radical left as a “fascist” march. It is important to note that the “National Movement” party and its candidates poll between 0.5-1.5% in national elections. Given such marginal support, the party has withdrawn from political competition with some of its members seeking electoral fortunes on electoral lists of other parties on the broadly conceived political right. The party sees itself as a socially conservative, Christian nationalist party, which in its official mission statement sees the nation “as a cultural community of generations – past, present and future”. Its members have consistently and publicly disavowed racially based political doctrines as contrary to the Catholic Christian doctrine, which they see as the moral basis for its political activity. It is telling that even such relatively mild formulation of “nationalism” garners so little political support in Poland.
    Given the aforementioned context, it would be difficult to justify a general thesis of the article that the march consisted of “thousands of far-right nationalists” although it is understandable that for some “far-right” may coincide with espousing policies based on socially conservative Catholic social doctrine. If that indeed is so, then it would be accurate to say that the majority of the participants in the march most likely were Sunday church goers with conservative social positions on cultural issues of life and family.

    It is incorrect to state that the theme of this year’s march “We want God” derives from “an old Polish nationalist song.” In fact, the Polish religious song (belonging to a religious, not a nationalist repertoire) of the same title derives from a French original “Nous voulons Dieu” written and composed by a French priest François-Xavier Moreau in 1882 to protest forced atheization policies of the French government at the time.

    Returning to the issue of apparent displays of racist banners at the march, both the government of Poland and the organizers have unequivocally condemned what seems to have been actions by a fringe minority of protesters. The presence of supporters of the National Radical Camp, mentioned in the article, would fit that definition.

    The official position expressed by the Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski very clearly states that the Polish government does not in any way support any expressions of racial or ethnic conceptions of a nation. Additionally, as you may recall, Poland’s Foreign Ministry condemned the proposed participation of a controversial US white supremacist Richard Spencer in the march. The organizers said that such “scandalous” behavior would not be tolerated and more attention will be paid next year to eliminate such displays and groups. The Warsaw police chief during the press conference after the march also stipulated that the footage of the march will be studied carefully and the suspect cases of spreading racial or fascist speech will be duly investigated.

    I hope that this rather lengthy explanation of context as well as a clear statement of unequivocally critical attitude of the current government towards displays of racist or ethnic nationalism by fringe groups in Poland will allow you to getter a fuller picture of political sentiments of patriotic Poles that displayed their Independence Day spirit at yesterday’s march in Warsaw.”