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Poland bans neo-Nazi group over leaked video of Hitler anniversary celebration

Warsaw, Poland – On Wednesday, a Polish court in the southern city of Gliwice officially banned and disbanded the “Pride and Modernity” (DiN) neo-Nazi movement.

In a leaked video from 2017, the fascist group had been seen celebrating the would-be 128th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth. The event was secretly filmed by an undercover reporter and broadcast on local news channels.

According to the Wednesday ruling, the footage “leaves no doubt” that the “Pride and Modernity” movement had been aware that the celebration of Hitler’s birthday was a way to promote and propagate Nazism, which is illegal under Polish law.

In her ruling, judge Bozena Klimaszewska said that “there was no doubt about the nature of the event”, as quoted by the PAP state news agency.

“Allowing the use of Nazi symbols, Third Reich flags, swastikas, images of Hitler or Nazi saluting were all an expression of acceptance or even affirmation of Adolf Hitler, who implemented the Nazi ideology which cost the lives of tens of millions of people worldwide”, she added.

World War II and Nazi occupation cost the lives of six million people in Poland alone, roughly half of which were Jewish.

Screenshot of the leaked video footage. Credit: TVN24

During the trial, however, the leader of the neo-Nazi group didn’t express any guilt or remorse, on the contrary: “I am fascinated by the environment of the Third Reich. I have the right to be. I hid it from people, but TVN has revealed my secret without my consent”, he told the court.

The video showed a number of men celebrating the Führer’s birthday, dressed up in Nazi uniforms while performing Nazi salutes in front of a portrait of Hitler and several swastikas on trees.

During the celebration, a giant wooden Nazi swastika, soaked in flammable liquid, was set on fire (see picture above) while fixed to a tree as the participants played soundtracks of Nazi military marches.

“Hitler was a true gentleman, women were fascinated by him and children loved him”, the leader of DiN, nicknamed “Sitas”, said during the ceremony. “The NSDAP [party] under Hitler’s guidance promoted family values, motherhood, fatherhood, respect and honour”.

Several of the men on the video were eventually identified and arrested by Polish security agencies.

Dating back to 2017, the leaked footage was aired in January 2018 on news channel TVN24, sparking outrage in a country still struggling to come to terms with the memory of Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland during World War II.

On the same day of the court ruling, the conservative government’s decision to honour the Swietokrzyska Brigade, a group of ultra-nationalist underground fighters that has been accused of collaborating with the Nazis during the war, prompted public outcry: “The organisation of these ceremonies insults the memory of all Polish citizens killed in the fight against Germany”, Poland’s chief rabbi Michael Schudrich said, adding that he regarded being invited to the event as “a personal insult”.

Only a few days ago, Polish historians also expressed concerns over the planned makeover of Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair war-time headquarters, located in modern-day Poland, fearing the historical site could be turned into a “Nazi theme park” and attract neo-Nazi groups and pilgrimages.