Services for Polish Crash Victims

What a week!

As we sat on the terrace today enjoying a morning coffee we heard the sirens from town at 08:56 reminding us that this is exactly one week since the crash. This weekend, with a service for all victims in Warsaw today and the funeral of the President and first lady tomorrow in Krakow will see the end of Poland’s period of mourning and for all us ‘spectators’ pretty much the end of the ‘show’. Websites will get their colour back, as will TV programmes. The radio stations will revert back to Lady Gaga and other inappropriate music. Of course, as we all go about our normal lives we should still remember firstly those whose loved ones are still in Moscow and secondly all those for whom this tragedy is far more than a one week affair. Those whose families have been torn apart, those fatherless and motherless children, those who face the task of rebuilding the broken national administration, filling the gaps as best they can.

I think Tusk in particular has performed particularly well although I’m certain there are hundreds of others that have been doing exceptional work to struggle through this week. They look exhausted and who can blame them.

Watching the service now in Plac Piłsudksi really brings home the enormous scale of what has happened. In the past week we have seen various smaller acts being played out – the President, his wife, 30 coffins, another 34 coffins, a further 8 coffins – all deserving ceremonies at both ends of the flight, the drive through town, the non-stop candles and flowers at the palace (3,300 tons of them I heard so far). But today everything comes together. Once more Pl. Piłsudski sets itself up for a momentous and historic occasion.

Poland President Plane Crash

It is truly heart-wrenching to see the photos of 96 victims, the row upon row of grieving families, the tens of thousands of others gathered around for this service of remembrance. The service started at 12:00 with more sirens and then a two minute silence and then the part where I find it the hardest not to cry, the reading out of the names and details of all the dead. They have been blessed with superb weather with skies so clear it is hard to believe there’s volcanic ash at 20,000ft. From what I’ve seen so far the service is as good as anyone could wish for.

But life does go on for those of us not directly affected and this means that, unfortunately, we have a family wedding today and so are not able to get out and join the crowds (unless we meet them on the roads). Tomorrow, M has her further education training, surprisingly still on despite tomorrow’s Wawel service. So, we shall have to make do with TV coverage but the images of all those families today will help us remember what this is all about.

That’s about it from the Warsaw end of Polandian. Our much stronger Krakow team are already on the case to bring you news of tomorrow’s activities so I expect this post to be a short-lived tribute to all the victims before the focus moves to the President, his wife and all those visiting superstars.

A whole week of mourning might seem like an awful long time but to put it in perspective, if you mourned night and day for the whole week it still amounts to less than two hours per victim!

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14 thoughts on “Services for Polish Crash Victims

  1. […] [Polandian] Services for Polish Crash Victims […]

  2. mark says:

    Hi guys. I can see you’re doing a reasonable job but what you do nowhere near matches the quality of writing and humour of In Your Pocket editor and New Poland Express columnist Alex Webber. Scatts – if you really used to write for Warsaw Insider then shame on you as all they do is nick In your Pocket content.

  3. Scatts says:

    Mark, always nice to welcome professional critics to the site!

    Firstly, yes I did really used to write for WI. I’m not in the habit of lying and if I were then I’d probably come up with something more impressive! Where they nick their stuff from, or did all those years ago, I have no idea as I was never part of their organisation just a ‘freelance’ contributor. My stuff was original but like I said, the editing was poor and was peeing me off so best out of it.

    I’ve tried ‘In Your Pocket’ a few times and it didn’t particularly impress me but it’s fair to say I read such things about once a year when I find a used one left behind on a coffee bar table so I’m no connoisseur.

    I’d never heard of the NPE but it looks okay and I’ve now linked to it from my personal blog. It is a very different thing to Polandian though, so I’m not sure any comparisons are justified. Actually, just the fact that you are comparing them and think we’re doing a reasonable job is more flattering than annoying.

    From what I can see, Ed, Graham, Alex and Matt are all proper journalists/writers with a list of former employees that anyone would recognise as being high quality. So you’ve got a bunch of pro’s producing what I suppose is a professionally put together online newspaper. How the hell can you compare us to that? But like I say, flattering that you do.

    The only ‘professional’ we’ve got is Jamie, and having read a number of Alex Webber’s columns now I think Jamie’s posts are every bit as good in terms of quality of writing and humour.

    Anyway, food for thought is always welcome and I hope you pop back more regularly for a dose of reasonableness!

  4. former dweller says:

    The Funeral.

    Wow. ? Not sure I quite understand all the pomp and ceremony. He was rather an unpopular president. But after watching the procession, you would think he was a beloved king.
    Yes I do understand the scope of this tragedy. B.T.W., ( Over 1000 people died in an earthquake in China last week) I just cant help but think politics and religion have jumped into the process. (maybe its the devil in me). The family said it was the cardinals idea, and the cardinal says it was the familys idea.? So whos was it? The whole event did look like the ” The Cardinal Dziwisz Show”.

    Also… , Bizarre how all the West leaders could not come because of ashes but all the former eastern bloc leaders had no problem with flying thru ashes. Coincidence?, or is it?

    Not deaf ,dumb or blind.

  5. guest says:

    for our non Polish readers…

    “Funeral ceremonies in Sarmatian Poland were highly unusual, and unknown in other parts of Europe. They were carefully planned shows, full of ceremony and splendour. Elaborate preparations were made in the period between a nobleman’s death and his funeral, which employed a large number of craftsmen, architects, decorators, servants and cooks. Sometimes many months passed before all the preparations were completed. Before the burial, the coffin with the corpse was laid in a church amid the elaborate architecture of the castrum doloris (“castle of mourning”). Heraldic shields, which were placed on the sides of the coffin, and a tin sheet with an epitaph served a supplementary role and provided information about the deceased person. Religious celebrations were usually preceded by a procession which ended in the church. It was headed by a horseman who acted the role of the deceased nobleman and was covered in his armour. A horseman would enter the church and fall off his horse with a tremendous bang and clank, showing in this way the triumph of death over the earthly might and knightly valour. Some funeral ceremonies lasted for as long as four days, ending with a wake which had little to do with the seriousness of the situation, and could easily turn into sheer revelry. Occasionally an army of clergy took part in the burial (in the 18th century 10 bishops, 60 canons and 1705 priests took part in the funeral of one of Polish noblemen).”

  6. Paulina says:

    Very good point! Thank you for the reminder.

  7. tee says:

    Former eastern block leaders had a smaller distance to fly through – not to mention that the cloud is moving from west to east.

    Polish airspace has been opened up to 6000 meters, allowing those who had shorter distances or smaller planes to fly through.

    Not to mention that many dignitaries have traveled with means other than planes.

    I wouldn’t look for conspiracy there.

    And pomp and ceremony is pretty much an ancient Polish tradition. Poland has done things like this centuries before partitions – ceremonies like funerals, weddings and other have often been overwhelming.

    One of the most memorable of such ludicrously pompous ceremonies has been a mission of Ossolinski to Rome (1633) and this:

    You may not understand this, but it’s part of who we are.

  8. former dweller says:

    RE. “Funeral ceremonies in Sarmatian Poland were highly unusual”

    So were funerals in the rest of europe 300 years ago. But thats the point. 300 years ago.

  9. guest says:

    …and unknown in other parts of Europe.

    Poland is different.

    “Poland’s nobility were also more numerous than those of all other European countries, constituting some 10% – 12% of the total population of historic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth also some 10% – 12% among ethnic Poles on ethnic Polish lands (part of Commonwealth), but up to 25% of all Poles worldwide….By contrast, the nobilities of other European countries, except for Spain, amounted to a mere 1-3%”

  10. Steven says:

    looking for a bigger under graduate text book to copy and paste from………………….

    to best Guest….LMAO

  11. Kuba says:

    Lots of the pomp and ceremony is for the office of the president if not for the man himself. Not all presidents are liked by all but the office should be honored. I think it was the right thing to do in this case.

  12. former dweller says:

    So frickin what. Stop living in the past.
    Evolve a little.

  13. island1 says:

    I like Alex Webber’s stuff. I’ve followed his column for some time.

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