Krakow's WWII 70th anniversary ceremony: A spectator's-eye view

I attended the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II yesterday in Krakow. It was an understated but moving event.  Attendance was low and seemed to consist mainly of people who happened to be walking past at the time plus a gang of frenetic photographers. As we know, Poles have something of an aversion to parades and marching bands for entirely understandable reasons. This is a little movie I put together of a spectator’s-eye view of the event and the lead up to it. Apologies for the occasional wobbles, it was all hand-held.

I wanted to capture the reality of the day rather than try to recreate a TV-news style glossy representation. I sought out and left in details such as the ragged heel-clicking discipline, the giant confused orange woman, and the creaking flag pole not because I wanted to make fun of the event but because I felt it made the whole thing more real and human. By the way, there’s a very interesting article about events in Krakow during the first six days of the war by William Brand on the Krakow Post website.

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18 thoughts on “Krakow's WWII 70th anniversary ceremony: A spectator's-eye view

  1. Scatts says:

    Large orange lady reminded me very much of the Tango ads of the early 90’s:

    Any sign of Napoleon & Brown at the Krakow ceremony then? They might have just got their Polish towns mixed up, given how poor Western European maps seem to be!

  2. Pawel says:

    I’m sure they are wondering in Elbląd somewhere… tryong to work out where Tusk is.

  3. Steven says:

    All kidding aside, and in spite of how I feel about Poles under 40 feeling sorry for themselves. I was really moved to see the elderly men in uniform. It makes me wonder what kind of hell they lived through and what courage it must have taken to put that uniform on and go to work sept 1 , 1939.

  4. kuba says:

    I had a cousin in Stutthof and his memoirs are very descriptive of how he and other were treated. He was not in the Polish military.

  5. kuba says:


    Thanks for taking the movie. Nice to see something without any spin on it.

  6. kuba says:

    Island where is that eternal flame located in Krakow? It is in you video.

  7. guest says:

    BTW, Poles under 40 have parents and grandparents.

  8. island1 says:

    It’s on pl. Matejki, just north of the Barbican and Florian Gate.

    Not sure it qualifies as an eternal flame since it’s only lit on special occasions.

  9. island1 says:

    I had a very similar thought. I was almost expecting her to creep up behind the policeman and give him a massive bear hug.

  10. kuba says:

    Thanks Island

  11. Kiki says:

    Steven, I think you’re still missing the point. People under 40 are not feeling sorry for themselves, but they feel for their parents and grandparents (still alive), who went through hell . And they want US to remember, and this is our duty to remember….for future generations.

    No one wants this to happen again, and that’s why we are trying to get the message across. So are the veterans in other countries doing as long as they are still here.

    Your attitude is – oh, forget about the war, we are living in the XXI century , stop moaning, nobody cares , take it easy …
    It’s a big mistake because history can repeat itself easily –
    if we are not careful.
    I may sound very pompous but in fact I am not at all.
    I think it’s just simple common sense.

  12. MaterialGirl says:

    Holidays off! :-(
    I came back to hit island1, scatts and the rest of the team?!!!? :D

  13. Steven says:

    Every living veteran of that war is a national treasure to that country. I swear every time I get to speak to one, or see one in uniform my eyes tear up, even on u tube.

  14. kika says:

    Is it true or is it irony ?
    By the way – my granddad was in Stutthof,
    near Gdansk, go and visit it by yourself, not much of a difference compared to Auschwitz…
    And he will always be a treasure to me, not because he survived Stutthof, but because he was my beloved granddad.
    The veterans are just like living museum pieces, hence their value….

  15. kuba says:

    I’m sure your granddad knew my cousin Stas. Stas was in Stutthof from 1943 until it was liberated. He passed in 2004.

  16. Scatts says:

    Oh gawd, MG is back! ;)

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