Polish Independence Day in Poznań

more than a year ago
While other parts of the world celebrate November 11th as 'Remembrance Day' (UK, Canada), 'Armistice Day' (France, NZ), and 'Veterans Day' (USA), for Poles the ending of the Great War was even more significant as it saw Poland finally regaining its independence and returning to the map of Europe after 123 years of being partitioned by Austria, Germany and Russia. With the signing of the Armistice between the Allies and Germany, famed military hero Józef Piłsudski was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Second Republic of Poland on November 11th, 1918. Piłsudski formed a new centralised government and went on to command Polish forces against Russia in the victorious 1920 Battle of Warsaw, a key turning point in the rebirth of the country. In true facepalm fashion, however, Independence Day was constituted in 1937 and celebrated exactly twice before World War II began and Poland found itself occupied again. In the communist era, the date of Independence Day was dubiously moved to July 22nd to honour the day the PKWN Manifesto - a document which basically asserted communist authority over Poland - was issued in 1944. After communism fell in 1989, the holiday was restored to its original November 11th date.

To mark the occasion every year in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Pl. Piłsudskiego in Warsaw there’s the official Changing of the Guard with all the big wigs, president, prime minister and top brass in attendance. Outside of the capital cities all over the country hold their own parades with Poznań no exception. Traditionally flowers are first left at memorials to Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Ignacy Paderewski, Franciszek Ratajczak and to the Wielkopolska Uprising before 09:00 at the Lesser Basilica of St. Stanislaus. A 10:00 the Poznań Orchestra holds a short concert on Plac Wolność before a parade sets off at 10:30 for the Main Square where there are speeches and presentations.

Ironically, Poznań's Independence Day observations are completely overshadowed by a different celebration each year on November 11th: The feast day of St.Martin. For more on those festivities, read our full-length feature on St. Martin's Day.


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