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The important date of November 11th in Poland Posted by on Nov 11, 2017 in Culture, History, Holidays, Museums

99 years ago, in 1918 Poland, after 123 years of occupation (1795-1918), regained independence and to commemorate this date has adopted public holiday on November 11.

November 11 is a statutory day off from work. The main celebration of the holiday take place in Warsaw at the Piłsudski Square at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But this is not the only way how people celebrate this holiday.

Another form is, for example, the Independence Run organized every year since 1989 in Warsaw. It is the second largest race in Warsaw, and it is not only for runners but also skaters, disabled people and nordic walkers.

Since 2009 at the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising is held the Independence Concert. It is a verbal-musical spectacle featuring the canons of Polish patriotic song, in modern arrangements with respect to the cultural heritage maintaining Polish harmony.

But not always this day was a happy one…

On November 11, 1941 the first execution by a shot in the back of the head at a close range using a small-calibre silent gun took place in the German Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp. It was done in the courtyard of Block 11, at the execution wall, also called “the Death Wall”. The condemned prisoners were led to the wall one by one, naked, with their hands tied behind. Before the execution each of the had his camp number written on the chest. The camp commandant, the camp manager and the camp doctor were present. The execution was performed by Rapportführer Gerhard Palitzsch.

“The death wall” in Auschwitz, Image by Kasia Scontsas

On that day Germans shot 151 prisoners: 80 Poles brought from Mysłowice and until the moment of execution held in bunkers of Block 11 (this group is mentioned in some testimonies, yet no documents about them survived); 27 prisoners who were kept in the cells of Block 11 for different reasons and arrested there between October 10 and November 2 as well as 44 prisoners called from the camp by the Political Department – camp Gestapo. In their death certificates it said: ‘Erschiessung wegen Widerstand gegen die Staatsgewalt’ (shot because of resistance activity against the state authority).

One of the executed was a sculptor and reserve lieutenant Tadeusz Lech, who a couple of hours before his death said to one of the prisoners: “At least I am glad that I will die on November 11”.

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About the Author:Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.