Sunday, November 5, 2023

Russia celebrated the Unity Day (and a slaughter of Warsaw's Praga)

Unity Day, also called the Day of People's Unity or National Unity Day, is a national holiday in Russia held on 4 November. It commemorates the popular uprising that expelled Polish–Lithuanian occupation forces from Moscow in November 1612, and, more generally, the end of the 'Time of Troubles' and the turning point of the Polish-Russian War (1605–1618).

But there is also another anniversary, the one that Russians don't celebrate officially, but unofficially, they do remind Poles of it whenever they can. (We will get back to that.)

On November 4, 1794, the Russian army led by General Suvorov massacred innocent civilians in Warsaw's district of Praga. According to estimates, from 13 to 20 thousand people have died.

During the Kościuszko Uprising (General Kościuszko returned from America in 1784), after the defeat in the Battle of Maciejowice and the taking of the commander Tadeusz Kościuszko prisoner, the situation in Warsaw became critical. 

General Suworow took advantage of the slow collapse of the uprising and ordered a rapid march to approach the capital from the direction of Praga. The Russians reached there on November 2, 1794, having previously defeated a unit of insurgents near Kobyłka. The shelling of Praga began. 

The assault was launched in the early morning of November 4. In a short time, the Polish defense was broken. General Jakub Jasiński, who defended the "Zwierzyniec" fortification, died heroically. By 9 p.m., all of Prague was in Suvorov's hands. Then, a massacre of the local civilian population began.

The massacre was intended to cause panic on the left bank of Warsaw and force the Poles to unconditionally surrender the city to Suvorov. The main perpetrators of these crimes were Cossacks, who treated men, women, and children ruthlessly. The Russian leader did nothing to prevent this, yet Russian historians still try to justify his actions.

The massacre of the civilian population of Prague was motivated by Russian hatred of the rebellious city. In one of the letters, Suvorov wrote: "To crush them [Poles] completely, and to plant the banners of the most powerful monarch there for the terrifying sight of the perfidious capital - this is the great goal."

Suvorov also added a robbery motive for his troops. He himself told his soldiers that: “When the walls are captured, take loot... Loot is sacred. You will capture the camp - it's all yours; you will conquer the fortress – everything is yours.” (Are you still surprised by the looting of Ukraine in 2022?)

Unofficially, Russians celebrate the 'slaughter of Praga' and remind Poles of it whenever they can. The latest example is the Russian Orthodox Church, which wants the canonization of Alexander Vasilievich Suvorov.

Also, yesterday, a popular (in Russia) popstar, Shaman, during his performance in Moscow, pressed a symbolic red button in a metallic suitcase.

- Based on texts in Wikipedia, 'Historia Dorzeczy' (History by Dorzeczy) magazine, and Interia(.)pl.