WARSAW, POLAND. More than fifty people arrested, four injured policemen, a couple of cars up in flames, a guard’s post at the Russian Embassy and a squat under attack…This is how around 55,000 followers of radical, right-wing organizations celebrated this year’s November 11th, Poland’s Independence Day.

For the past four years, as a Warsaw citizen, I had to watch radical nationalists grow in power and take over a national holiday. Forcing normal, peaceful people to flee from sight, they have been marching every year “for an independent Poland,” “to get rid of red disease,” “for God, honour, and the fatherland,” “to eliminate homosexual terrorists,” “for nationalism.” Two of the most active and influential organizations, Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny (ONR; The Radical Nationalist Camp) and Młodzież Wszechpolska (MW; All-Polish Youth) both declared a war against anything and anyone they consider anti-patriotic, – they their very own, distinctive definition of patriotism,- and for the social values they think crucial: religion, an indefinable sense of honor, and their so-called love for the mother-land, whose history most of their members do not even know.

On November 11th, 2010, many citizens decided to protest against far-right beliefs that were to march through their city, their capital. Shouting “No pasaran!” they formed a blockade, standing arm in arm, forcing ONR and MW to change their planned route.

On November 11th, 2011, the same radicals marched again. And again citizens stood their ground. But on that day, members of the “Independence March” did not back down so easily. A regular battle formed in the very heart of the city, a huge town-square ironically named the Constitution Square. There were bricks ripped from the sidewalks, words of hate thrown at people who stood behind a police cordon. On that day fear was struck into the hearts of not only left-wing activists or anti-fascists, but also into the souls of potentially indifferent and peace-loving citizens.

On November 11th, 2012, ONR and MW marched together with the legally registered Independence March Organization. “11 thousand patriots for the 11th of November!” I still remember those posters. And I still remember how they marched, this time there was no blockade. This time they had a free hand to do whatever they wanted. To chant whatever they felt like. That was the day that many tolerant, normal citizens and I along with them, became “red, leftist, gay-loving terrorists” that had to be eliminated.

On November 11th, 2013, Warsaw’s city hall gave consent to the organizers of the “Independence March” for the third time. This year, they demanded to have their own guards and no police around. Their wish was granted. First aggressive incidents started not more than an hour after the march began.

500 members of the march attacked a squat, with many left-wing activists inside. Throwing lighted bangers and bricks at the building, they forced some of the inhabitants to act as well. A regular battle broke out, because of which not only people, but also trees planted not long ago alongside the road, were gravely injured.

The march’s route passed by one of Warsaw’s prettiest town squares, Savior Square, where an artificial rainbow was created three years ago, as a symbol of tolerance. Ever since then, conservatives have condemned the symbol of the rainbow, thinking of it as homosexual propaganda. The statue was burned down thrice and rebuilt every time. Now, on November 11th, 2013, someone set fire to it once again. “Good thing they burned down that piece of homosexual shit,” is one of the many nationalist comments posted to a Facebook page, which was created an hour after the incident to encourage Warsaw citizens to help reconstruct the rainbow.

When the nationalists marched passed by the Russian Embassy, they threw bricks and bangers once again. This time they hit the guard’s post. It burned down. It burned down like the president’s vain hope of a united national holiday. There was no holiday today – thanks to a manifestation ironically called the “Independence March.” Only Celtic black crosses on formerly national flags. A huge sign that read, “Here comes the new generation.” And thousands of young, savage people, angry at everything and everyone.

On November 9th, 2013, an anti-fascist demonstration marched through Warsaw not only to commemorate Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night, but also to protest against the re-affirming neo-Nazi and neo-fascist movements that seem to grow in power as economic and political crises roam throughout Europe. The demonstrators walked a path of pain, the path that led to the former Umschlagplatz, where Germans had transported Warsovian Jews to concentration camps. Standing in the rain, the protesters listened to a poem by one of the greatest Polish pre-war poets, Julian Tuwim, who spoke of a world, where all would understand, that under God’s sun, there are no Jews, Greeks, Poles, Germans… but people. There were people leaning out of their windows, looking at a silent gathering of sad activists. It was depressing, upsetting. When I was walking towards the subway, I overheard a conversation, in which one person spoke of his hatred towards the nationalists. But there cannot be more hate here. Hate is someone else’s weapon.