The Function of Independence Day in the Third Republic: Since 1989

M. B. B. Biskupski

in Independence Day

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199658817
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744235 | DOI:
The Function of Independence Day in the Third Republic: Since 1989

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In 1989, with the collapse of Communism, Independence Day was celebrated for the first time since 1938. There were open air masses for Piłsudski, visits from members of the Polish government in exile, as well as Piłsudski's two ancient daughters; statues were restored, streets and squares renamed. No one spoke critically of Piłsudski: neither the reborn endecja nor the post-Communists: Piłsudski and the 11th had transcended factionalism and become all-national symbols without partisan attachments. Quickly an elaborate structure for ceremonies on the 11th developed: parades, speeches, military reviews, promotion of officers, re-enactments of key episodes on the 11th, impersonators of Piłsudski, etc. Government officials made reference to the army, and state patriotism as the foundation of Polish society, themes basic to Piłsudski's regime after 1926. The state versus national understanding of Poland again re-emerged. Press coverage of the 11th mentioned only Piłsudski; Paderewski and Dmowski were virtually eliminated. Polls conducted showed that the 11th had rapidly risen in Polish consciousness as the premier holiday. This trend was especially evident among the young and educated. Prominent politicians noted that they were Piłsudskiites, though no definition of Piłsudskiism was essayed. This feature had always characterized loyalty to him: a disposition rather than an ideology; the passionate embracing of certain eloquent symbols rather than a coherent ideology. The notion that November 11th was important to modern Poles because it was their only symbol of victory in modern history: World War II was a defeat, the victory of communism a sad occasion, and the Solidarity Round Table process too attenuated in time to focus attention on a single date. It was November 11th or nothing.

Keywords: Piłsudski; 3rd Republic; Kwasniewski; Kaczynński; Walesa; Zakrzeński; Piłsudski square; Dmowski

Chapter.  10699 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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