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Conference: Syndicalists in the Warsaw Uprising

On August 9, a conference was held in the Warsaw Uprising Museum on the role of syndicalists in the in the armed struggle against the Nazis during the Uprising and other related history. The main topic of the conference revolved around the ZSP, in particular the 104th Company of Syndicalists, which played an important role in the Uprising, but there were also explorations of the genesis of the ZSP, of the currents of Polish syndicalism at the time and of the ZSP and Polish syndicalism in comparison with other revolutionary syndicalist and anarchosyndicalist organizations.

Starting the conference was Szymon Niedziela, historian from the Warsaw Uprising Museum. He gave a very interesting and detailed account of the actions of the ZSP during the Uprising. These included not only armed action against the Nazis, but also significant actions such as operating kitchens to feed the civilian population and extensive publishing, including important news from the Uprising. He also told very interesting (and sad) stories about the relation of the Home Army towards the ZSP, including not informing them about plans to start the Uprising and about deciding that they should remain the last ones on the barricades defending the Old Town while others were evacuated, preventing the evacuation of the syndicalists.

Jakub Woroncow spoke about leading figures in the ZSP like Kazimierz Zakrzewski, Stefan Szwedowski and Jerzy Szurig. He also examined the history of the ZSP and spoke about some of its activities and positions. He examined the ZZZ and its development. ZSP was formed by people who had been active in that syndicalist federation. Rafal Chwedoruk also spoke about the ZZZ and ZSP, examining their ideas, influences and development. He gave a presentation on what syndicalism is and the main influences on Polish syndicalism of that time. Besides looking at ZZZ and ZSP, he also spoke about Syndicalist Organization „Freedom” (SOW), which existed during the Uprising and made a comparison between the influences on ZZZ and ZSP (ie. French Revolutionary Syndicalism) and on SOW (anarchosyndicalism, FAUD, IWA...).

Michal Przyborowski made a presentation on some of the people and places associated with the ZSP. He showed various photographs of activists, places related to the organization and the Uprising, copies of publications, etc.

Laure Akai spoke about the reaction of anarchosyndicalist and syndicalist organizations in Europe to fascism and to the war, comparing the positions of these organizations and the ZSP to issues such as national liberation vs. internationalist positions, fighting a third front against both sides of the war, against fascism and capitalism, vs. types of support for one side of the conflict and fighting against fascism as a predominant issue vs. promoting a deeper fight against all forms of domination. Finally, Maciej Drabinski examined anti-nationalist ideas, outlining the thought of Rudolf Rocker on the idea of the nation and the specifics of Nazi ideology. This last lecture drew the most questions from the audience and stimulated much discussion.

Overall we consider the conference to have been quite interesting and we were pleased to have been able to give the audience a better idea about the ideas and the context of Polish syndicalism, in addition to telling the history of their actions in the Uprising. Dr. Niedziela said that it was a pleasure to host this conference at the Museum and that in the future they will try to do more to educate people on the important role the syndicalists played during the Uprising.