11th of November
National Independence Day – Polish national holiday
celebrated on the 11th of November to commemorate the
restoration of Polish independence in 1918, after 123 years
of partitions (1795–1918); the holiday was established on
the 23rd April in 1937. It is a non-working day.
Meaning of the date
Polish restoration of independence was a gradual process. The day before, Józef Piłsudzki – a
soldier and politician – arrived in Warsaw, which is the capital of Poland. In these two days,
10th and 11th of November 1918 Polish nation regained independence. The whole country felt
overwhelmed with enthusiasm and hope.
In general the 11th of
November 1918 is mainly
remembered as the end of
the First World War.
For Poles this day is particularly a day of independence after the times of the
partitions of Poland.
At the end of the 18th
century, Russia, Prussia and
Austria divided up Poland
among themselves. In 1795 it
ceased to exist on the map,
but never-even in those tough
times it disappeared from
Polish people’s hearts.
For 123 years Poland was occupied by Russia, Prussia and Austria. They wanted to completely
destroy any Polishness in the area: Polish traditions, customs and the Polish language.
However, the Poles were strong and throughout the period of the partitions they were doing
everything they could to regain independence and national identity. Through armed activities
and daily proceedings they sought to show its independence to the invaders.
The Kościuszko uprising
The Kościuszko uprising was the first bold move to save Poland and defend its
independence. It took place in 1794.
Suppression of the Kościuszko
uprising by the Russians and the third
partition of Poland stopped
courageous Poles only for a really short
In addition to those Poles who fought for freedom in Poland, there were many
who fought for the independence of Poland in exile. They organized branches,
who had to fight with the invaders alongside other armies . Out of these
legions, there was one of the greatest fame created by General Jan Henryk
Dąbrowski in 1797 in Italy.
On the night of 29 to 30 November 1830 the Association of Cadets led by
second lieutenant Peter Wysocki started another uprising in Warsaw.
Unfortunately, the power of the Russian army by far outweighed the strength
of the Polish Army. The uprising was brutally suppressed.
On the 22nd of January 1863 the January uprising broke out.
It was the longest and the bloodiest rise of national liberation
suppressed by the Tsarist government.
Soon, the hope of regaining independence by Poles became the outbreak of
the First World War in 1914.
Lots of people, both soldiers and civilians – fought for their homeland or even gave their lives
On the 11th of November 1918 (after 4 years of fighting) the German army and their allies
capitulated and had to resign of their high ambitions of being a world power..
On the 11th of November, Józef Piłsudski arrived in Warsaw, greeted as a
national hero of reborn Poland.
Independence day is a very important date for Polish people.
They can remember their ancestors fighting for the
independence of the country in its difficult moments. Then we
place flowers at the graves and monuments of those who
sacrificed their lives for us. By participating in the celebration of
this day we commemorate those thanks to whom we live today
in free Poland and who saved our language, culture and
Acts of celebration
In years 1919–1936 the anniversary of restoration of independence was celebrated in Warsaw as a festival
with military character. It was usually organised on the first Sunday after the 11th of November.
In 1926 on the 8th of November Józef Piłsudski changed that day into a non-working day and later one
minister made that day free from school. During the German occupation in years 1939-1945 open
celebrations were impossible. However, people tried to remain memory about Independence Day anyway.
In the eighties the authorithies organised celebrating the Independence Day again. Delegations of central
authorithies consigned wreaths on the Grave of Unknown Soldier. The day was celebrated in a similar
way in other places in Poland. Nowadays, the main celebrations take place in Warsaw on Józef Piłsudski’s
square, in front of the Grave of Unknown Soldier. Other ways of celebrating the holiday are:
Independence Run organised from 1989 in Warsaw, Independence Concert organised from 2009 in
Warsaw as well and parades on the streets of other cities.
On Independence Day radio plays Polish music and television is full of films
connected with the history of Poland.
All patriotic monuments are decorated with flowers.
On this day everyone has to hang Polish flags.