Thousands of Poles gathered for the mayor of the funeral in Gdańsk –

Rally in honor of the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, on 18 January.
Rally in honor of the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, on 18 January. AGENCJA GAZETA / REUTERS

Officially, these are not national funerals, but in reality they are real. In Poland, less than a week after the knife attack that cost him his life on Monday, January 14, the Mayor of Gdansk Pawel Adamowicz was greeted a 'last time by over 50,000 people – the equivalent of 10% of the population of this city – before being transported in the middle of a large escort to its last home.

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A salvo of official tributes has yet to be paid on Saturday 19 January in the monumental Church of Santa Maria with the participation of President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and three retired heads of state, including German Joachim Gauck and Polish Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa.

Although the high level of representation of this ceremony is due to both the circumstances of death and the biography of the victim, the inhabitants of Gdansk seem to have wanted above all to express their gratitude for "their" mayor, a child of the country elected six times at the town hall. In November 2018, with the slogan "Tutti per Danzica", he received almost 65% of the votes in the second round. "Gdansk was her third son for him"said in a moving speech Antonina Adamowicz, 15 years old and the eldest of the two daughters of the deceased.

"Open, smiling"

The city does it well. After having offered their blood for the transfusion the night after the attack, when Pawel Adamowicz was still between life and death, the locals had organized spontaneous demonstrations throughout the week as a "largest heart in the world" composed from more than 30,000 candles. Thursday night, the municipality took over the exhibition of the body at the European Solidarity Center to allow everyone to greet the mayor in one of his most important achievements. At the same time a place of debate and museum dedicated to the famous social movement, the Center borders with the cranes of shipyards where, in 1980, Lech Walesa and his companions had forced the communist regime to authorize the creation of independent unions.

Read also Poland in a state of shock after the knife stabbing of the mayor of Gdansk

Throughout the night, several tens of thousands of people stopped patiently in the freezing for a last brief contact with their mayor. For Kazimierz, 72 years "Pawel Adamowicz was open, smiling and talking to everyone", qualities repeated almost systematically. During the day, they were younger, but Gawel, 25, was there to regret the loss of"Very good man" who gave him a medal after a race.

In the queue, only those who came in groups argue. The tribute is a solitary exercise, even when practiced in the crowd. The looks are no longer wet or tense faces like the day after the tragedy: the citizens of Gdańsk are calm and simply want to greet their mayor. No one spontaneously addresses the issue of the killer or the climate of "hatred" implied by many media and public figures. "They say the boy could be irresponsible, but for now we can not draw conclusions, we have to wait for the results of the investigation"says Kazimierz. Of course, retired Wislawa also motivates his coming "Desire to protest against violence"but I will not say more about his sources. A day of mourning is not the point.

Risk of instrumentalization

A photo of the Mayor of Gdansk Pawel Adamowicz at his funeral on January 18th.
A photo of the Mayor of Gdansk Pawel Adamowicz at his funeral on January 18th. WOJTEK RADWANSKI / AFP

Far from the tail, a man has an idea. "My name is Janusz Maliczenko, I am 63 years old, half of whom went to the shipyards. [Droit et justice, le parti ultra-conservateur au pouvoir depuis 2015 et dont le libéral Pawel Adamowicz était un opposant]. I came to greet the mayor of Danzig, killed by a bandit. It was not on my political side, but when I heard of his death on TV on Monday, I cried like he was my brother. He was elected democratically and, even if I did not have the same ideas as him, I would never have wanted him dead. "

In his black anorak, he pulls back, letting his wife wait in line, because his back problems, he says, keep him from staying still for a long time. This is not the only reason. "Maybe PiS is not written on my forehead, but I do not want to hear that it's the PiS that killed Adamowicz." Although no one today publicly affirms such a thing, both parties fear that the other party will exploit crime for political ends.

Can the murder of Pawel Adamowicz, on the other hand, help to renew the dialogue and rebuild trust? This is what Janusz wants, even if he is a pessimist. "Christian logic leads us from love to hope for the living"Mgr. Zbigniew Zielinski was recalled at the Friday funeral mass. Monsignor Slawoj Leszek Glodz will take the floor today for political leaders.

provisional (Gdańsk (Poland), special correspondent)

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