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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-poland

Newsgroups: alt.skinheads,alt.politics.white-power,alt.politics.nationalism.white,soc.culture.polish
Subject: ADL: Skinhead International; Poland
Summary: The ADL's "Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey
         of Neo-Nazi Skinheads"
Followup-To: alt.skinheads

Archive/File: pub/orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-poland
Last-Modified: 1995/09/04


The Skinhead movement has found adherents in Poland where
their violence has become deadly and their political extremism
has escalated since the fall of Communism. The Polish
Skinheads' anger and energy have been given direction by
far-right nationalist forces.

Violent behavior is a hallmark of the Polish Skinheads. They
seek out victims at mass gatherings, such as soccer matches
and rock concerts. Smaller groups also single out individuals
for assault. The Skinheads tend to avoid provoking the police,
but have fought them on occasion when the police have tried to
quell their disturbances. After an initial perception of
spotty law enforcement, the police response to the Skinhead
problem is regarded as having improved, particularly since the
killing of a German truck driver in October 1992.

Hard-core racist Skinheads in Poland total approximately
2,000, along with twice that number of supporters and
hangers-on. Skinhead activity has been observed in Warsaw,
Krakow (especially the steel-producing suburb of Nowa Huta),
Lodz, Katowice, Wroclaw (Breslau), Gdansk, Gdynia, Poznan,
Sopot, Szczecin, Pulawy, Czestochowa and Legnica.

                   First Appearance

Skinheads first appeared on the Polish scene in the
mid-1980's. In the period just before the collapse of the
Communist regime, they engaged government forces in street
battles. But soon afterward, a sizable number took a turn to
the far right. In May 1990, Skins served as bodyguards at the
First Congress of the Polish Right, where they beat up
left-wing demonstrators protesting in front of the hall. The
Skins were members of a nationalist group called Polish
National Renewal (Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski). Skinheads again
provided security at a convention of several nationalist
parties in December 1992.

In 1993, National Radical Offensive (Ofensywa Narodowo
Radykalna) was formed in Krakow by approximately 50 Skinheads,
intending to harass leftists and to coordinate Skinhead
groups. It has participated in a number of right-wing

Anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric in the bitter and
divisive presidential election of 1990 and the subsequent
parliamentary elections further fueled the politicization of
Polish Skinheads. Far-right political groups (most of them
marginal) that have influenced them include the National Front
of Poland (Narodowy Front Polski), the recently formed and
similarly named Polish National Front (Polski Front Narodowy),
several separate outfits that use the name National Party
(Stronnictwo Narodowe), and, most natably, the Polish National
Community/Polish National Party (Polska Wspolnota
Narodowa/Polskie Stronnictwo Narodowe), led by Boleslaw
Tejkowski. The PWN/PSN, which has enrolled Skinheads as party
members, preaches that the Poles "are being ruled by Jewish
nationalists" who it maligns as former "Communist torturers"
turned "capitalist exploiters." The "USA, Germany and Israel
are taking over our national riches," says the party.

While older party members print and peddle leaflets and
publications, it is the Skinheads who have heeded Tejkowski's
appeals to demonstrate in the streets. The PWN/PSN maintains
contacts with extremists in other countries, including
Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National in France, the Russian
group Pamyat, and the Ukrainian Pan-Slavic Movement. Tejkowski
also boasts of contacts with the North Korean dnad Iraqi
embassies in Warsaw. Buring court proceedings against
Tejkowski in February 1992, Skinheads demonstrated inside and
outside the courthouse in Warsaw, and beat two journalists.
Tejkowski was being tried for inciting Skinheads to attack
Jews and others, but he went into hiding to avoid court-ordred
psychiatric tests. In October 1994, Tejkowski was given a
one-year suspended sentence, but was told that he would spend
that time in jail if he resumed his activities within two
years of the ruling. He declared that he would carry on in the
same fashion despite the court's decision, reportedly vowing
to "continue criticizing the authorities until they are

                  "Poland for the Poles"

The targets of Skinhead propaganda and violence are so-called
aliens, be they foreigners, Jews or punk rockers. Anti-Semitic
slogans are routinely shouted at their demonstrations. In
April 1995, for example, some 80 young men, most of them
Skinheads, chanted "Down with the Jews" and "Poland for the
Poles" during a demonstration in a Warsaw square. Skins yelled
anti-Jewish slogans during an April 1992 ceremony to observe
the 51st anniversary of the formation of the Nazis of the
Jewish ghetto in Czestochowa. The Skinheads, who came from
Krakow, Lodz, Poznan and Wroclaw, erupted in a vocal barrage
as the Israeli Ambassador to Poland unveiled a commemorative
plaque to the victims. Police quickly quelled the disturbance
without any arrests. Skinheads and their allies have attempted
to disrupt other Holocaust commemorations since then. Skins
have also demonstrated in front of the Israeli embassy in
Warsaw, and have burned an Israeli flag in Szczecin.

Violence aimed at Jews has been physical as well as
rhetorical. In July 1991, Skinheads attacked a female student
at Warsaw University who "looked Jewish," cutting her face
with a razor. She lost an eye. The Jewish Historical Institute
in Warsaw was attacked by a gang of Skinheads in November
1990. When they were unable to force the doors, they stoned
the building, breaking windows. A police spokesman in Wroclaw
said Skinheads were beleived responsible for the destruction
of 40 tombstones in that city's Jewish cemetary in April 1992.
On Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) in 1991, the Warsaw
synagogue was attacked by a group of young thugs, including
Skinheads, resulting in injuries to two elderly worshippers.
Since that incident, the police have maintained a permanent
presence near the synagogue.

                       Jewish Pope

Skinheads and other extremists frequently use the term "Jew"
as a label for any of their targets regardless of whether they
are actually Jewish. Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, numerous
government officials and large numbers of priests and bishops
are "Jews," according to the publication of the PWN/PSN.

Germans are also a target of the Polish Skinheads, who hold
that a reunified Germany, along with increased German
investment, poses a threat to Poland. Polish Skins are active
in Silesia, an area with a German minority that Poland
acquired from Germany after World War II, and that German
revanchists yearn to recover.

                     Mutual Hatred

Hatred of foreigners has propelled both German and Polish
Skinheads to commit violence against citizens of each other's
countries. German Skinheads attacked a busload of Polish
tourists on October 3, 1992, following an open-air concert in
Massen that attracted more than 1,500 Skinheads. Two days
earlier, three German truck drivers were attacked by a gang of
Polish Skinheads in Nowa Huta. One of the victims was killed.
The police quickly identified and arrested several suspects,
and there was vigorous local condemnation of the killing. In
Opole, in February 1992, Polish Skins attacked a group of
Germans and Poles in a cafe, and beat other Poles who tried to

Others who have been assaulted are Arabs, Gypsies, and black
students at universities in Krakow and Wroclaw. One of the
Skinheads arrested for the killing of the German truck driver
was already under investigation for the beating of two Arab
students. A week after the assaults on the German truck
drivers, another gang of Skinheads attacked a shelter in Bytom
that housed Romanian Gypsies. In a separate incident, an
elderly Gypsy woman was beaten by Skinheads in a December 1992
attack on Gypsy houses in Chorzow. In addition, while no
violence broke out, a rally by 100 Skinheads in Krakow during
March 1992 featured demands to "stop the inflow of
foreigners." They were prevented by the police from marching
to the former Soviet consulate to stage an anti-Ukrainian
demonstraton. Recently, cases of Skinheads beating up blind
youth have also been reported.

In February 1995, a black American basketball player, Thomas
Eggleton, who plays for the local team in the town of
Stargard, was attacked by a group of Skinheads who shouted
insults and beat him.

                     Skinhead Style

The Skinheads in Poland have adopted the accoutrements of
their counterparts in the West: Doc Martens boots, narrow
heans and thin suspenders. They frequently wear T-shirts
inscribed "Skinhead Oi."

Polish Skinhead bands (some of which may no longer be active)
have included BTH, Grunwald, Ramses and the Hooligans,
Szczerbiec (Sword), White Power, Slav Power, Zyklon B,
Fatherland, Poland, Sex Bomba, Zadruga, Honor, Sztorm 68 and
Legion. The bands Konkwista 88 and Falanga 88, both from
Wroclaw, describe themselves as National Socialist ("88" is
neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler," H being the eighth letter of
the alphabet). Followers of Konkwista 88 and Falanga 88
attacked a gathering organized by black students to celebrate
the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa.

News about the music scene fills the pages of Skinhead
publications. Some Polish skinzines are _Szxzerbiec_,
_Kolomir_, _Skinhead Polski_, _Czas Mlodych_ and _Krzyzowiec_.
A piece written for a British skinzine by Polish Skinheads
indicated that they have been in contact with their
counterparts elsewhere in Europe, especially the former

There are other international connections. The Swedish
neo-Nazi Skinhead gang Vitt Ariskt Motstand (White Aryan
Resistance), for instance, has established contacts in
Szczecin in the region of Pomerania. Some German neo-Nazi
Skinheads had hoped to form an alliance with their Polish
counterparts against "aliens" from further to the south and
the east, but they have been stymied by Polish extremists'
antagonism toward Germany. Ironically, Polish Skins -
particularly those from Krakow and Nowa Huta - reportedly
purchase thier Skinhead gear from West Berlin suppliers.

                   "Too Much Dancing"

Some Skins in Poland apparently see an overemphasis on music
as a detrement to their cause. "Man does not dance, but acts.
There is too much dancing, too little work and struggle," one
activist is quoted as saying. His choice of words suggests a
certain debt owed by the Skinheads and their ultra-nationalist
confederates to the rules of the old Communist regime. A
Skinhead leader in Katowice has been exposed as a former agent
of the disbanded Communist secret police, fueling suspicions
by some in Poland that there may be others like him.

The attitude of Polish Skinheads toward the Catholic Church
appears ambivalent. Skins staged an anti-abortion protest in
Warsaw shouting "Catholic Polant - Sieg Heil!" But in
Przemysl, in southeastern Poland, Skinheads threatened to beat
up "any Polish priest who will dare say Mass" at a
controversial proposed memorial for German soldiers in World
War II. The threats in this case probably owe more to
anti-German hostility than antipath toward the Church. The
Pope has denounced the "incredible ferocity" of neo-Nazi
Skinheads and other hate groups as "cruel and dangerous," and
has urged poeple to reject them. (Anti-Defamation League,

                        Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY

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