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Martial Law in Poland - 38th Anniversary

December 12, 2019

Martial Law in Poland - 38th Anniversary

The Institute of National Remembrance encourages everybody to place candles in their windows on 13 December at 19:30 in order to commemorate the tragic events from 38 years ago. In Warsaw we will arrange candles in the form of a cross as a way of commemorating the victims of martial law.

If you are unable to attend the ceremony personally, please place a candle in your own window in solidarity, or go online to light a virtual candle at http://swiatlowolnosci.ipn.gov.pl. The Institute has moreover prepared numerous commemorative and educational activities throughout the country.

This year’s edition of the educational campaign "Victims of Martial Law. Light the Candle of Freedom" will be launched, as in previous years, under the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda. The campaign carried out by the Institute of National Remembrance aims to commemorate all those who lost their lives or otherwise suffered as a result of Martial Law introduced on 13 December 1981. IPN’s branch offices throughout the country have prepared commemorative and educational activities.

The "Victims of Martial Law. Light the Candle of Freedom "campaign initiated by the Institute of National Remembrance a few years ago, refers to the gesture of placing candles on the windows, through which, in the early eighties, Poles, but also other inhabitants of the Free World, expressed opposition to the brutal policy of the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic and solidarity with thousands of internees and their families. The then US President Ronald Reagan called upon the Americans for a similar gesture of unity with the victims of Martial Law.

- This year's Christmas brings little joy to the brave Polish nation. The Poles were betrayed by their own government. Those who rule them and their totalitarian allies are afraid of freedom, which Poles love so much. At the first signs of freedom, the rulers responded with brutal force, murders, mass arrests and the formation of internment camps - he said during his Christmas message. (…) Let the light of millions of candles in American homes be of  notice that the light of freedom is not going to be extinguished. - said the President.

In the act of solidarity with the suffering compatriots, John Paul II decided that a symbolic light should appear in the window of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. During the Martial Law period, the Holy Father observed the situation in Poland closely, supporting the underground opposition and appealed for avoiding conflict and victims.

On 13 December 2019 at 7:30 p.m. , we would like to invite everybody to Piłsudski Square in Warsaw for a joint prayer for the victims of martial law conducted by Fr. Jan Sikorski. After the prayer, a cross made up of candles will be formed as a way of commemorating the victims of martial law.

At the end of 1981, Fr. Sikorski was delegated to pastoral care among internees in the prison in Warsaw's Białołęka. After the death of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko he conducted Masses for his homeland at the church of St. Stanisław Kostka in Żoliborz. He also became the honorary chaplain of "Solidarity" in the region of Mazowsze.