On this day, Ryszard Siwiec a Polish accountant and former Home Army resistant committed suicide by self-immolation against communism.

Photo: AIPN

On September 8th, 1968. Ryszard Siwiec a Polish accountant and former Home Army resistant committed suicide by self-immolation in the former PGE National Stadium, the Stadion Dziesięciolecia during an harvest festival. His act was a reaction against the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was the first one to protest against this invasion. This act was omitted by the media but 100 000 people witnessed his suicide including many journalists and the national leadership of the Polish United Workers’ Party. The authorities suppressed any mention of this tragedy but 30 years later a 7-second film was found capturing by a motion camera.

Ryszard Siwiec was a very smart person and was disillusioned with the reality of communist Poland. During his act he refused any help shouting “I Protest”, he had a banner with the words “For our freedom and yours” and “Honor, Fatherland”. He died 4 days later at the hospital. He was posthumously awarded a number of Czech, Slovak, and Polish honors and decorations.

His story was told in a documentary film by Polish director Maciej Drygas.

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