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Independence DayMyth, Symbol, and the Creation of Modern Poland$
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M. B. B. Biskupski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658817.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.157) 9 The Function of Independence Day in the Third Republic: Since 1989
Source:
Independence Day
Author(s):

M. B. B. Biskupski

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658817.003.0009

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

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