Several Thousand People March In Warsaw On Eve Of Uprising
WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ A crowd of 2,000 people chanting, ″There is no freedom without Solidarity″ marched in Warsaw late Wednesday after a Roman Catholic Mass on the eve of the anniversary of the Warsaw uprising against Nazi troops.
Police carrying riot sticks peacefully dispersed the march after it had proceeded about a mile. There were no signs of violence or arrests.
The march began after a Mass celebrated by Bishop Zdzislaw Krol, chancellor of the Warsaw Curia, at St. John’s Cathedral in the city’s old quarter.
″We are gathered here on this anniversary to pray that our homeland can be free and sovereign,″ Krol said in his sermon to an overflow crowd of about 6,000 worshipers. ″And, as we asked a year ago, we ask God that historic justice may be realized.″
The Mass has been held annually since 1981 as part of unofficial observances of the Aug. 1 anniversary of the 63-day uprising in 1944 by ill- equipped fighters of the nationalist Polish home army against crack Nazi German troops.
The marchers chanted slogans of the banned Solidarity free trade union movement and shouted ″Do not vote 3/8″ to support Solidarity underground appeals for a boycott of October parliamentary elections.
The marchers followed police instructions to remain on the sidewalk, carried no banners, and at times chanted ″Peaceful demonstration 3/8″ as they passed columns of police trucks and water cannon parked on streets along the route.
After years of failing to recognize the anniversary, the Communist government in recent years has held separate official commemorations. On Thursday, government officials scheduled a ceremony at the site of a planned monument to the uprising.
Many Poles maintain that the government has downplayed the significance of the uprising because of sensitivity over the role played by Soviet troops. Historians say the Soviet army, which was advancing on Warsaw from the east, deliberately did not aid the insurgents, who were largely supporters of the nationalist and anti-communist Polish government-in-exile in London.