Saturday, 26 April 2008


Last weekend, I found myself out with a large group of francophone foreigners, very obviously not of white Polish origin. It wasn't long before we were engaged in the nigh-impossible task of trying to find somewhere where ten people can sit down around a table on a Saturday night in Kazimierz.

We approached a likely looking place on ul. Wąska. There were posters in the window advertising a band playing live that night. One or two of us took a closer look, read the details and gave a wry smile:
- You know what, this might not work out so well.

The bouncer, seeing a large group of foreigners and clocking Indian and black faces among them folded his arms and shook his head:
- Not tonight guys. You don't want to go in there.
One of the group, a tall black guy from Martinique, hadn't seen the poster:
- Why not? Why can't we go in?
Bouncer: - What are you nuts? You want to go in there? Hit the road, go on.

We made tracks.

Lined up for that night was Skrewdriver: one of the first Nazi punk groups...

Can somebody explain to me - perhaps because I'm foreign and I don't understand these things - why precisely in this city we invite neo-Nazi musicians to play just metres away from empty synagogues, faded Hebrew inscriptions and other signs of vanished Jewish life?


Anonymous said...

Maybe the nazi groups will learn something about tolerance if they visit Kazimierz or perhaps Auschwitz...

Shaunj said...

Sorry anonymous I completely disagree with you. it's not education these people need. Most of them are super educated.
Pino-I don't know. Some people never let an idea drop. It's depressing when history shows the dire consequences of such mentality. I was in Odessa last May in time for quirky communist marches. Pictures of Joseph Stalin. Classic.

Anonymous said...

Pinolona ,I hope you will also make a "Polish party" at home

like this ;)

It would be sad if you forget the last 12 months...

peixote said...

In answer to your question - because we live in a free society where if you have not broken the law you are free to associate with who they please and play the music you like. Do you disagree?

As far as I can make out neither the musicians nor anyone from the audience could be accused (much less convicted) of crimes related to the Holocaust.

Pursuing your train of thought, would you find it acceptable for Screwdriver to play in, say, Blackpool of Kinshasa, where there are no empty Jewish temples, but not in Kraków where there are?

pinolona said...

OK peixote good point. I got carried away with the anecdote. Voltaire or whatever about defending to the death your right to say things that I disagree with (badly paraphrased).

But at the same time, while I agree with freedom of speech, I think, in my awkward British way, that one should be discreet and avoid doing things which are in appallingly bad taste - and in that I would include playing Nazi music on the site of the former Jewish neighbourhood in Krakow.

Anonymous said...

The peripatetic Australian from last month back again - must work out how to construct a handle sometime - just to say ...

Miss Lopinina, as you were! You were right on the money and don't you be taking a backward step in the face of pixie's passive aggressiveness. Recourse has been had to "we've broken no laws" and "it's a free world" by extremists all through last century to excuse bad behaviours as if they are sufficient arguments. We live together, we live in a community, and we have responsibilities of humanity to each other.

Look, Voltaire, good bloke I'm sure, but not absolutely necessarily right on every occasion. In the face of intimidation, in the face of threat, in the face of suffering, in the face of cruelty, take a frigging stand. Grrr! (Sorry. I'll have a lie down now.)

peixote said...

anonymous: yes, you do just that lest your own passive agressiveness overcome you. And it`s peixote to you. Not pixie.

pinolona: I concede on the 'bad taste and absolutely inappropriate' point. Certainly. At the same time I object to history being used as an excuse to limit my right to listen to music, up to and including Nazi music (should I feel so inclined). By the same token one should ban all English bands from playing in Ireland, seeing as how Cromwell & Co. did their bit to wipe out the local population there at some point in the past.

pinolona said...

That's totally different and you know it. A British band playing in Ireland is not going to be propagating eviction of the local population or singing racially-offensive lyrics.
Nobody is saying you don't have the right to listen to Nazi anthems if that's what floats your boat, but I think it's something that you should do in the privacy of your own home, rather than in public... if things like this become commonplace, we become desensitized to them and that's always dangerous.
Come on now be sensible about this one.

peixote said...

Perhaps this is a good place to state that Screwdriver (Skrewdriver???) or the like-themed bands certainly do not float my boat.

This is about the principle of the thing - just as people in Blackpool or Kinshasa have the right to listen to Nazi music, or any other kind of music (if they want to), so do the people of Kraków (again, if they want to). And if you have objections as regards inviting these kind of bands to Kraków, you should have the very same objections as regards inviting them to any other city. Whatever ideology the band is promoting should be just as harmful in Kraków as in said Kinshasa, without any regard to the history of the place.

That is all that I am trying to say.