08 October 2017

Poles in Spanish Civil War commemorated in Warsaw

Category: Exhibitions, Editorial notes, XXw, Polish historiography, News, Military history, Cultural history, Memory studies


An engraved plaque dedicated the Jarosław Dąbrowski XIII International Brigade, which fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, was unveiled today in Warsaw.


The plaque was designed by Zuzanna Ziółkowska/Hercberg, in the framework of the ninth edition of the festival Warsaw Under Construction, which seeks to recall the long-erased memory and the disappearing history of leftist movements and activists in the city.

An earlier plaque, originally mounted on the large boulder in parks around the capital's iconic postwar skyscraper, the Palace of Culture and Science, had disappeared silently one day after 1989. It had commemorated the site of the creation in 1918 of the KPP – the Communist Party of Poland – at the intersection of streets that were eliminated after the war for construction of the Palace tower and what is now Defilad Square in central Warsaaw.

The freshly minted plaque commemorates the Dąbrowski Brigade, largely composed of Polish Communists called "volunteers for freedom," which served as part of the international antifascist surge in the defense of the democratic Second Spanish Republic. By means of her new artistic action, Ziółkowska/Hercberg emphasizes the Polish tradition of struggle for a better Poland and world, by opposing the effacement of the memory of those who fought and died for "our freedom and yours" – the Polish slogan used in domestic and international freedom struggles of the 18th and 19th centuries, which include the endeavors of Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Kazimierz Pulaski, who both fought in the American Revolutiion.

Fixed in the inset left by the original plaque, the new one pays tribute to the Polish brigade that battled fascism in Spain. At its center, etched in red, are the three-point star and the inscription !No pasarán!.  For the unveiling , under heavy afternoon weather on 8 October, Ziółkowska/Hercberg read dedicatory commentary and the Warszawski Chór Rewolucyjny "Warszawianska" (Warsaw Revolutionary Chorus) performed songs associated with the brigade. To guitar accompaniment, the 13 choristers song bold renditions of "Si me quieres escribar" in the Spanish original then in Polish. They followed the dedication statement with a cappella versions of "Marsz brygada Dąbrowksi" – the brigade's renowned march – and "Cześć i dynamit" ("Honor and Dynamite").



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