Poland

Chopin Piano Concert Scheduled for Thursday (11/14) Originally Canceled Over Polish Far-Right Sponsor

Paul Bisaccia

A Chopin and Gershwin concert with pianist Paul Bisaccia happening this Thursday in Greenpoint was originally scheduled at Carnegie Hall, but the event was canceled following controversy over the main sponsor’s anti-gay background.

The rescheduled event, From Chopin to Gershwin: For Our Freedom and Yours, Za Wolnosc Nasza i Wasza, is this Thursday (11/14) at 7 p.m., at St. John’s Lutheran Church (155 Milton St.); tickets range from $15 – $30 and are available here. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Bistro Owner Says Far-Right Polish Pol Duped Her

More than 100 people packed into Greenpoint restaurant to hear a Polish nationalist politician speak on June 5th. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 6/6/19 by THE CITY. (By: Claudia Irizarry Aponte)

A Brooklyn restaurant owner said her staff was blindsided when a Polish nationalist politician showed up with 100 followers Wednesday — spurring a backlash that may force her to permanently close.

“There was someone there who shouldn’t be and no one was expecting,” the woman, who asked not to be identified by name, told THE CITY through tears. “I don’t have nothing [to do] with this, I didn’t do anything… I don’t even agree with this.”

“We are not evil,” she added. “We didn’t do anything to bring this guy.”

Robert Winnicki, leader of the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party, spoke at French Epi in Greenpoint after being barred from nearby St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

The restaurant’s manager, Jolanta Filip, said she received a reservation for 15 Wednesday night. Filip and her mother were the only two people working when a huge crowd rolled in to the small restaurant.

“In a matter of 15 minutes, we had a full house,” she said. “We weren’t prepared for this mass of people.”

More than 100 people packed into French Epi, overwhelming the staff.
More than 100 people packed into French Epi, overwhelming the staff. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Filip said she called the owner, who told her to eject Winnicki and his supporters. But the crowd — which threw out two journalists from THE CITY — wouldn’t leave.

“We are not a platform for anything,” added Filip, a single mother of three who was hoping to buy the restaurant from the recently widowed owner. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Churches Cancel Speeches by Right-Wing Polish Figures

Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Greenpoint canceled an appearance by a controversial Polish author. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 6/3/19 by THE CITY. (By: Claudia Irizarry Aponte)

Catholic officials on Monday abruptly canceled speeches by two right-wing Polish figures at Brooklyn churches after local leaders’s protest letter to Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and inquiries by THE CITY.

Historian Ewa Kurek, who has claimed some Jews collaborated with Nazis and enjoyed the German-occupied Polish ghettos of World War II, was supposed to speak this week at three churches: St. Stanislaus Kostka in Greenpoint, St. Frances de Chantal in Borough Park and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem.

Meanwhile, Polish far-right politician Robert Winnicki was also set to appear at St. Stanislaus Kostka. He’s the leader of the “National Movement” (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party.

But as anger over the events spread over the weekend, local activists drafted a letter to DiMarzio, urging the Church to “stand up for the common good, working towards a more loving and cohesive society while remaining neutral within such mired politics.” Continue reading

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Polish Nationalists Protest U.S. Law Calling for WWII Reparations

A poster on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint promoting the 3/31 protest at Foley Square.

Over the past couple of weeks, you might have spotted a poster around Greenpoint promoting a Polish protest.

The protest at Foley Square in Manhattan on 3/31/

Last Sunday, Polish nationalist demonstrators gathered in Manhattan’s Foley Square to protest the U.S.’s passage of the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, which became law last year and calls for Holocaust survivors and their families to receive compensation for their seized and stolen property during World War II. Continue reading

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Polish Kotwica Symbol Sparks Debate on Usage

Kotwica flag flies high in Greenpoint (via Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union)

When Greenpointers received a tip last week that someone was allegedly passing out flyers identifying hate symbols following the discovery of hate stickers on McGuiness Blvd, we posted an image of the flyer to Instagram and began to receive many messages from local Polish residents that the Kotwica symbol should not be placed in the same category as the Swastika and other hate symbols. We also received messages insisting that the far right in Poland has recently used patriotic symbology during rallies, including the Kotwica. The local debate even received the attention of staff at the Polish Consulate in New York and the Greenpoint-based Polish and English radio station and news site, Radio Rampa, posted on the matter.

 

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With the rise in hate crimes in NYC in 2018, along with the spread of hate symbol graffiti in Brooklyn, someone is passing out flyers in Greenpoint to educate on how to identify hate symbols. We reported on an incident from last Sunday in which a Greenpointer discovered a series of hate graffiti stickers along Mcguinness Blvd. Read more at greenpointers.com ——————————— Many Polish businesses display the Kotwika symbol. It was the symbol of resistance to the fascist forces attacking Poland, then became the symbol of independence against the Soviets. It’s a symbol of great pride amongst the Polish culture that has been co-opted by a small number of fascists today.

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It’s a fact that the Kotwica is a symbol of the underground Polish resistance fighters who fought against Nazi occupation in the 1940s. The symbol to commemorate the resistance fighters is also found in Greenpoint on a flag during summer months at the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union on McGuiness Boulevard and on a mural on Eckford Street around the corner from the Warsaw music venue.

 

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The Polish Kotwica symbol of the resistance against Nazi Germany and Russian Soviets has been misidentified as a hate symbol with the recent wave of hate crimes in Brooklyn. Earlier in the week we posted a picture of a flyer that someone was handing out in Greenpoint. The creator of the flyer placed the Kotwica symbol next to other well-known symbols of fascist groups, and we would like to clarify that the Kotwica is not a hate symbol. In fact, it can be found around Greenpoint in honor of the Polish resistance fighters who served. Every year it’s displayed on a flag at the Polish Slavic credit union on Mcguinnes Boulevard and is painted on a mural at Warsaw on Eckford Street. Scroll through and checkout the clip from @radiorampa, the Greenpoint-based Polish/English radio station.

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White Supremacist Tag Appears at Transmitter Park

“Wielka Polska” tagged at the end of Kent St. near the North entrance of Transmitter Park.

Graffiti with the words “Wielka Polska” (Great Poland in English) and the Celtic cross, which according to the Anti-Defamation League is one of the most common white supremacist symbols, appeared at the Kent St. entrance to Transmitter Park next to East River Studios, where the Showtime production “Billions” is currently filming.

The hate symbol appeared on Monday morning following the Nov. 11, Polish Independence centennial celebration of “Sto Lat,” which also marks the end of World War I in 1918.

The graffiti features the Celtic cross, a common white supremacist symbol.

Much like in the United States, Poland is seeing a rise in hate speech this year and recently the Polish Senate passed a law making it illegal to blame the country for alleged complicity in Nazi war crimes, according to the U.N. 

Last week, a man was arrested for defacing Union Temple in Prospect Heights and setting fires at six other locations including at a Yeshiva in Williamsburg; the man was found to have a history of mental illness. Continue reading

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Sto Lat Celebrations Mark 100 Years of Polish Independence

Paderewski Days in New York.

This Sunday Nov. 11, marks the centennial of Polish independence, and a series of cultural events in NYC will mark the occasion over the next two weeks. “Sto lat” translates to “100 years” in Polish and is the common phrase to wish someone happy birthday.

The U.S. helped secure Poland’s independence at the end of World War I when President Woodrow Wilson expressed America’s support for a Polish state in his Fourteen Points peace plan. Today, Polish and American relations are generally considered strong: President Andrzej Duda recently offered $2 billion toward constructing an American military base to be named “Fort Trump” in Poland.

The NYC Council voted earlier this month unanimously to recognize important Polish cultural figures and dates. Resolution 420 establishes Nov. 11 as Polish Independence day in NYC; Resolution 421 establishes Oct. 11 as Casimir Pulaski Day, and Resolution 422 establishes Tradeusz Kosciuszko Day as well in NYC.

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Vanishing Polish Greenpoint

Green Farms Super Market at 918 Manhattan Ave. (via Google)

Green Farms Supermarket (918 Manhattan Ave.) was one of the local stores my Polish-born wife and I regularly shopped to get authentic Polish food, but the store’s last evening of business was just two weeks ago. Though it had an American name, we never called it Green Farms. For us the market was “U Chlopakow” and it was a vibrant piece of Polish Greenpoint.

The shelves were almost empty because the prices had been slashed and sadly only a few cans of Polish food, some mineral water and Polish beer remained. The owners, though, had not liquidated the store for lack of business, but because as owners of the building, the temptation to sell out and retire comfortably proved too great to resist. Continue reading

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Enjoy a Beautiful Polish Tradition Easter Saturday

A traditional Polish Easter basket (via Wikipedia)
A traditional Polish Święconka basket (via Wikipedia)

I was raised Catholic, so before I lived in Greenpoint I knew nothing about the beautiful Polish Easter custom of Święconka (pronunciation: shi’ven-tson-kah), meaning “the blessing of the Easter baskets.” On Saturday thousands of well-dressed Polish families will walk to either St. Stanislaw Kostka church on Driggs Avenue or Sts. Cyril and Methodius on Dupont Street with baskets in hand for one of the most colorful Polish traditions.

The holiday probably predates Christianity in Poland. Its original form began in the seventh century and today’s form dates from the twelfth. The food in each family’s basket is full of symbolic meaning. Poles carry eggs, which symbolize both Jesus and life. They also carry horseradish, which reminds them of the bitter suffering of Jesus on the cross. In addition, they carry bread, which is also a symbol of Jesus. The basket also contains salt, representing purity, as well as ham or kielbasa, which is symbolic of bounty and good times.

Poles will arrive at the church and say prayers of thanksgiving. The highlight of the prayer service is when the priest sprinkles holy water on the baskets. There’s a festive and joyful attitude amongst Poles on Saturday and Święconka remains one of the most colorful and authentic celebrations that defines the Polish community in Greenpoint.

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Bigos: A Traditional Polish Dish Perfect For Colder Weather

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-9-03-31-am One of the most delicious dishes in Polish cuisine is Bigos, or as it is sometimes called in English, Hunter’s Stew. For many Polish Greenpointers it’s a staple, but many locals still do not know about this fantastic cold weather dish. Extremely hearty and filling, it’s a stew that is perfect for a cold day. No one is entirely sure how the word bigos entered the Polish language, but some say that it comes from German begossen, meaning “doused” or “basted.” Another explanation is that it comes from Italian bigutta, or “pot for cooking soup.” But wherever it comes from, bigos is a delicious stew that is worth the wait in cooking it.
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