In the morning of the 4th of December I left the hotel with the intention to go and see Museum Narodowe – however, I did not get very far. In plac Solny I already wondered about the presence of several army cars and buses. Turning round the corner into Rynek I saw the whole western side blocked off by barriers and a large number of soldiers marching in. TV was there, too. What was going on here?
It turned out to be the swearing-in ceremony of young recruits. Big ballyhoo. The troops had already marched in, but the organizers were still busy with preparations. It was quite entertaining to observe them. The sergeant in charge was a very short man, everyone else was notably taller, and he was running around instructing everyone.
The highest-ranking General took position in the middle of the square. They were obviously expecting a V.I.P. guest.
Antoni Macierewicz, Minister of Defence in the right-wing PiS government, arrived in person to attend the ceremony. An uncongenial guy. Right-wing – well, I prefer calling them what they are: fascist. Even the General did not look too pleased when he was waiting for his guest. Look into his face...
I had mixed feelings but decided to stay and watch, and when I saw others taking photos without anyone objecting, I took out my camera, too. This was the perfect occasion to try the 30x zoom on my shiny new camera, catch some funny portraits, and play with details and reflections on the musical instruments.
A flag pole had been erected in the square. Now the flag was brought in and raised, all very ceremonial.
The military band played.
Then the recruits had to swear their oath on the Polish flag. That was the most solemn part of the ceremony.
Pan Minister gave a speech, of which I understood very little apart from the repeated, „Poland needs you“ – the first time I was grateful for my bad Polish. I am sure that it was nationalist rubbish. Note the look on the face behind his shoulder…
There were more speeches and addresses. Little Sergeant had to hold the microphone for the officers who addressed the Guests of Honour.
After the some more speeches and music the recruits marched out. Now there was time for congratulations from parents and friends.
And for a photo of proud Mama with her son and his newest toy.
The show continued with the bands playing and some soldiers singing patriotic songs to entertain the spectators.
The highlight was the show exercise of a drill team, which included members of all three branches of service: army, air force, and navy. They marched in formations that almost resembled a dance.
I cannot help but wonder what the marines are carrying in those little white leather bags on their belts!
In the end the flag was taken down and everything disappeared like a spook, and people went on with their daily lives.
In my country, holding such a ceremony in the heart of a city, next to the Christmas market and in the middle of public life, has been impossible since the 1970s and would never be accepted by the vast majority of the population. Hence I stared at this in a mix of amazement and nausea. I admit that I am no believer in „military glory“ and „patriotism“ and "great nations". I’ll better not express my true opinion about all this here, in order not to make this entry too political. But I could have done with a wodka shot afterwards…
Hence I could not take this celebration too seriously. My photo gallery should thus not be taken too seriously either.