Members of the right-wing Confederation held a protest against mandatory vaccinations and pandemic restrictions. Several of the party’s leaders took part in the event, including Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Artur Dziambor and Grzegorz Braun. The protest was organized under the “stop medical segregation” slogan.
In recordings from the protest, one can see how Confederation MPs are standing under a banner which resembles the infamous sign above the entrance to the German death camp Auschwitz. The words “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work sets you free) were replaced with “Vaccination Sets You Free” in Polish.
The scandalous banner sparked outrage across Polish media and on the internet. Many politicians and commentators from both sides of the political spectrum, asked by “Gazeta Polska” daily condemned the Confederation’s protest.
Law and Justice (PiS) MP Bartosz Kownacki heavily criticized the protest and compared to the Women’s Strike pro-abortion protests which also used symbols referring to Nazi Germany (a lightning bolt).
“I believe that such thing should have no place in Poland. People promoting patriotic values and right-wing movements in particular should not be provoking them. In my opinion, this was a grave mistake and some Confederation voters will look at this critically,” he said.
Also, Michał Moskal, the head of PiS’ Youth Forum, condemned the politicians of the Confederation party:
Marek Sawicki of the Polish People’s Party (PSL) declared that “all boundaries of stupidity had been broken” referring to the banner.
Civic Platform (PO) MP Robert Kropiwnicki underlined that using slogans in Poland which referred to the fascist occupation was very unbecoming. He noted that the promotion of fascism in Poland was forbidden by the constitution itself.
Confederation politician Dobromir Sośnierz defended the protest by claiming that the banner had been brought in by a supporter and not by the MPs themselves. He added that he saw nothing insulting about the comparison made by the banner for anyone other than the people who have been accused of repeating blueprints from the past.
“Of course, one can say that this comparison is a bit over the top, because the situation is not so bad, but we are heading in a similar direction and I’m not surprised that people make such connections,” he said.
Political scientist Andrzej Anusz explained that using such comparisons in public debates amounted to a form of abuse.
“I think that Polish society will very critically evaluate this. The Confederation will suffer heavy consequences for this, both politically and image-wise. Another issue is that this group has taken the issue of vaccinations onto their banners. They most likely see that this matter has caused debate within PiS itself and the party is not unanimous. Hence, the Confederation is trying to benefit politically from the situation,” he said.