Row as far-right group attends Polish war memorial service

The memorial to the Polsih families which was unveiled. Picture: Victor Lukaniuk

The memorial to the Polsih families which was unveiled. Picture: Victor Lukaniuk - Credit: Archant

Supporters from a Polish far-right nationalist group with links to the BNP have been criticised for attending the unveiling of a Polish memorial for Second World War refugees.

Members of the National Rebirth of Poland group (NOP) turned up at the ceremony at Brandon cemetery, which was attended by over 400 people on Sunday, September 24.

They were dressed in black and carried flags bearing the insignia of their group, which has been criticised for its anti-Semitic and homophobic views.

They stood silently in a prominent position during the service, which was being led jointly by the Rev Sharron Coburn of St Peter’s Church, Brandon and Polish priest Marek Zajac.

Suffolk county councillor and Brandon town councillor, Victor Lukanuik worked tirelessly to get the memorial erected in the cemetery that remembers all those Polish families who suffered greatly during and after the Second World War.

He is dismayed that anything should mar what was a day of celebration for Polish families.

He said: “I had no idea who these people were – I categorically state that.

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“They came along, they said nothing, they distributed nothing and they left saying nothing.

“There was an open invitation to everyone to attend and I am not in a position to stop people coming into a public burial ground.

“This was a day of flags and celebration – over 400 people attended.

“It was a combination of an Anglican service and a Polish service.

“I cannot vet everyone.”

A National Rebirth of Poland spokesman claimed the group had been invited to the service and added that a flower delivery to the monument had been reported to the organisers.

Andrzej Kaznowski became shocked at the presence of a far-right group at the memorial service when his family showed him photos and video they had taken of the event.

He said: “It was incredibly disrespectful that at a memorial celebrating people who fought against fascism, there was the unchallenged presence of a group that represented the very ideology the Poles fought against.

“I live in Poland and unfortunately this creeping far-right ideology has become more apparent and more tolerated in the public space.

“This is not a personal attack against Victor or the memorial itself. It is really important that the Poles and the sacrifice they made and the welcome they received in England after the war is remembered.”