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A Warsaw district court has effectively set a precedent by legalizing the desecration of old World War II monuments, dismissing a case concerning the vandalism of the Polish-Soviet Brotherhood in Arms monument, and arguing that the defacement was actually a "patriotic act" against a symbol which "glorifies communism."
The monument, which has since been taken down, originally stood in Warsaw's central Praga district. In September of 2011, two vandals drenched it in red paint and wrote the phrase "red plague" across its façade. The youths were quickly caught, and declared that they had committed the act on "ideological grounds." Later in 2011, the monument was taken down for renovation during the construction of a metro line in the area.
Now, nearly four years later, a Warsaw court has dismissed the case, saying Thursday that the act "did not bring great public harm," and adding that since the monument "glorifies communism," the vandals' actions were actually a "patriotic act."
Polish Radio explained that prior to the case's dismissal, the wording of the charges in the case changed repeatedly, from "damage to the monument," to "insult toward the monument," and finally concluding that the object did not qualify as a monument.
The monument to Polish-Soviet Brotherhood in Arms in Warsaw's Praga district. File photo.
The Polish-Soviet Brotherhood in Arms monument, designed by famous Polish sculptors including Stanislaw Sikora, was originally erected in November 1945 to commemorate the joint struggle of Polish and Soviet soldiers against Nazi Germany. Featuring Polish and Soviet 'brothers in arms' at its pedestal, advancing westward, the monument was known colloquially as the "four mourners" monument for featuring two Polish and two Soviet soldiers with bowed heads at each of its four corners.
Nearly 150,000 Polish servicemen lost their lives in the war against Nazi Germany, while an estimated 600,000 Soviets laid down their lives in the liberation of Poland between 1944 and 1945.
Warsaw authorities' struggle against the Brotherhood in Arms monument began in 1992, when local residents successfully stepped out to defend it. After it was taken down for renovation, polling conducted by Warsaw-based newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in 2013 found a majority of residents again favoring the monument's restoration to its original spot, or in the area. A group of active citizens, allied with the Institute of National Remembrance, stepped out against its restoration, and in February 2015, the city council made the removal permanent.
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