During the biggest open-air free music festival in Europe, Pol’and’Rock (4-6 August), also known as Polish Woodstock, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association organized a football tournament promoting the message of ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’, involving teenage players who are refugees from Ukraine. Together with the other participants, they manifested their protest against the war.

On another festival day a meeting was held with the rock band Strachy na Lachy (Empty Threats) at the information stand of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. For many years, this group has been involved in the activities of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign run by ‘NEVER AGAIN’. Krzysztof ‘Grabaz’ Grabowski, the leader of Strachy Na Lachy, explained his band’s involvement in support of the refugees from Ukraine after the outbreak of the war. Some of the musician’s family came from Volhynia (a previously Polish territory, now a region in Ukraine). In press interviews, ‘Grabaz’ emphasised the importance of having neighbours of different nationalities and how it can lead to outbursts of creativity: ‘If in some place different cultures coexist peacefully with each other, then they will undoubtedly develop that place and its culture’.

– ‘During our meeting with Strachy Na Lachy, we talked primarily about war and peace, about respect and prejudice in everyday life, about hate speech and how it can lead to violence. We asked the band to explain how music can create a better world,’ said Joanna Naranowicz, a representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and the lead singer of the punk band Qulturka.

Strachy na Lachy was established in 2001 by Krzysztof ‘Grabaż’ Grabowski and Andrzej ‘Kozak’ Kozakiewicz who also play in a punk-rock group Pidzama Porno. It is one of the most famous rock bands in Poland. In 2014 the band’s leader, ‘Grabaz’, was awarded with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta – one of the highest honours in Poland, for his ‘outstanding merits in creative work and artistic activity’.

During the Pol’and’Rock Festival, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association had the honour of hosting many other bands of different music styles involved in the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign.

The ‘Lets’ Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’ tournament has been organised for over twenty years by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association at the Polish Woodstock/Pol’and’Rock Festival. In 2022 it was co-organized with the grass-roots football team FC GAN Pila and supported by FARE network and the Adidas Football Collective through its grassroots support programme. Tournament’s male and female participants jointly express their support for the ideas that guide the entire festival: peace, friendship and respect for diversity. This year, the message resonated particularly strongly with young players from Ukraine who had had to flee the cruelty of war.

During the Pol’and’Rock Festival, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also organised educational workshops on volunteering and supporting refugees. At NEVER AGAIN’s information stand, there were also practical worskhops on designing anti-racist DIY sew-on patches and t-shirts with the use of stencils and paints. The resulting items of clothing with the message ‘Music Against Racism’ were presented to the participants!

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, and for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the FARE network.

The campaign ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ was a brainchild of the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), who chaired ‘NEVER AGAIN’ for many years. ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ has run since the mid-1990s with the aim to combat racism and discrimination at stadiums. One of its main components is monitoring and reporting of hate crimes and hate speech cases.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also encourages musicians, record labels and promoters who are interested in releasing music tracks or videos as well as organising concerts (including online) with the promotional support of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign to get in touch via email: info@neveragainassociation.org .

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This summer, the biggest open-air free festival in Europe hosted a unique edition of the ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Stadiums’ tournament, organized by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. At the Pol’and’Rock Festival (also known as Polish Woodstock), the players symbolically represented countries from all over the world. In the final play-off, Poland played against Iran, while the fair play award went to Croatia. A match was also played between the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association’s team together with artists involved in the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign on one side and the team of the Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman) on the other. The Commissioner, Dr Adam Bodnar officially inaugurated the whole tournament and even personally refereed during the opening game.

The festival was held in Kostrzyn on the Polish-German border from 2nd to 4th August 2018 and it drew between 500 and 700 hundred thousand people, as estimated by the organizers.

– ‘The World Cup in Russia didn’t go down without racist incidents. Also in Antwerp, Polish fans insulted and assaulted Senegali fans. After the match Poland-Senegal (which the former lost), numerous racist insults were published on the Internet,’ said Piotr Ciolkowski, who co-leads the ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Stadiums’ campaign by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. – ‘Through the anti-racist tournament at Pol’and’Rock Festival, we wanted to remind everyone about the importance of respect and diversity in sports’.

The activity received support from Dariusz Dziekanowski, a legend of Celtic Glasgow and Legia Warsaw and a former star of the Polish national team. The tournament partners included the Fare network, the local authorities of Kostrzyn, and the Polish fan club of FC St. Pauli, the Silesian Pirates.

The Polish Woodstock Festival is not just about sporting activities, after all it is also a music event. – ‘We’ve held meetings with bands who support our campaign Music Against Racism. For example, NEVER AGAIN invited members of the amazing group called Na Gorze (Upstairs), which includes musicians who are disabled, to share their story with the audience. They had overcome all the obstacles and became fully-fledged artists,’ said Joanna Naranowicz, an activist of NEVER AGAIN and herself vocalist of the Qulturka band. The musicians of Na Gorze were joined during the festival by the Polish-Danish star singer-songwriter Czeslaw Mozil, known for his support for diversity and equality. Together, they had recorded a song with an anti-hate, pro-peace message.

The other educational activities organized by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ team during the festival included DIY art workshops promoting diversity and respect as well as discussions on topics such as refugee rights.

In 2018, the festival line-up included, among others, the Israeli-based Balkan Beat Box – a creative mix of Middle Eastern and klezmer traditions, electronic music and punk rock – as well as heavy-metal stars Judas Priest and Soulfly, the US rockers Goo Goo Dolls and a plethora of other acts of various styles, from death metal to jazz and folk.

The festival audience paid homage to the people of Warsaw who fought for freedom in 1944, during the anti-Nazi Warsaw Uprising (that broke out on 1st August). A minute of silence was held to honor their sacrifice.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association was founded in 1996 by Marcin Kornak, a Polish poet and activist (who passed away in 2014). In spite of his disability, he laid the foundations of the Polish anti-racism and anti-discrimination movement. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.

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Twenty years ago the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association issued its first compilation album under the heading ‘Music Against Racism’. To mark the anniversary, the full contents of the historic release has been uploaded on YouTube .

The ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign was a brainchild of the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), ‘NEVER AGAIN’s founder, a poet and an activist. Inspired by the British ‘Rock Against Racism’ initiative, Marcin managed to encourage numerous Polish bands and singers to join the movement against racist violence.

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The first album in the Music Against Racism series has become a rare collectible by now. It featured tracks by top-notch Polish rock bands who donated songs dealing with the issues of hatred and intolerance. The first stellar review was published on the pages of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s main quality daily newspaper. The campaign was subsequently ranked one of four most important musical events of the year in a poll by readers of Brum, a popular music monthly. More albums in the series followed over the years, bringing together artists of various genres, from the rapper Liroy to the folk band Trebunie-Tutki, which in itself was a statement of diversity and tolerance. Furthermore, the action was supported by UK-based Chumbawamba and Zion Train, bands known for their activism. As Marcin Kornak commented later on: ‘Many people took Music Against Racism and its message as something personal and important in their lives.’


Jerzy Owsiak, a longtime ally of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and organizer of the annual Polish Woodstock Festival, said: ‘I think this action, Music Against Racism, is great. The role of music is so huge. There is no better way to reach people than through music. This is the best kind of education, the best kind of awareness.’

‘We could see what was going on in Poland back then, we saw the violence at gigs and thus we fully committed ourselves to Music Against Racism. It was the only music-based action which tried to raise awareness and talked about things which others failed to mention, like fascism,’ says Robert Matera of the seminal Polish band Dezerter.

Krzysztof ‘Grabaz’ Grabowski, Poland’s leading singer-songwriter declares: ‘I have always supported and I will always support NEVER AGAIN in their fight against racism and bigotry.’

Joanna Naranowicz of the punk-rock band Qulturka, closely associated with ‘NEVER AGAIN’, says: ‘It’s a great honour to play for Music Against Racism and represent its message, even more valid now than back in the day.’ The campaign’s motto is still used for concerts and festivals, while many musicians put its logo (an open white-and-black hand) on their releases. Artists and promoters who wish to join the initiative can contact the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association at redakcja@nigdywiecej.org .

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. Its mission is to promote multicultural understanding and to contribute to the development of a democratic civil society.

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‘Music Against Racism’ – the first compilation record released by the NEVER AGAIN Association (1997):


A member of the anti-racist ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, Anna Tatar will have to defend herself in court because of critical statements she made about an extreme-right music festival.

The organizers of the Eagle’s Nest festival allege a criminal offence of defamation. The proceedings were commenced in the Kielce District Court and in October 2017 they were transferred to the Regional Court for Warsaw. The maximum possible punishment for the offence is a one-year prison sentence.

The case arose out of an interview which Ms Tatar gave in the mainstream internet news portal Onet.pl in 2016. She stated that ‘during The Eagle’s Nest festival fascist ideas are promoted and such events must not take place in Poland.’

Extreme-right music festival in Poland, 07.2015

The Eagle’s Nest festival has taken place in Poland annually since 2013. The participants include both Polish and foreign bands but the common thread between their repertoires is racial hatred. Some of the groups have been affiliated to the international neo-nazi network Blood and Honour. They have included All Bandits, Nordica, Stalag and Obled (previously known as Konkwista 88). The last band has a song about fighting ‘for blood and honour, for white pride and the Celtic cross.’ Similar sentiments appear in their song ‘The White Violets’ where the lyrics are: ‘We shall not allow the spoiling of our pure blood, we are the Slavic power.’ The documented responses to such songs from the festival audience include frequent Sieg Heil salutes.

Dr Anna Tatar has been a long-term co-editor of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ magazine. She authored a PhD thesis at Warsaw University in the field of Holocaust literature on the subject of ‘The Polish-Jewish relations in the works of Hanna Krall.’

The court action against Anna Tatar is not the only one. Leszek Scioch, an active member of ‘NEVER AGAIN’, also protested against the public expressions of neo-fascist ideology and has been accused of breaking the law recently. On 15 August 2017 in Warsaw he took part in a peaceful protest against the march organized by the extremist groups, All-Polish Youth (Mlodziez Wszechpolska, MW) and the National-Radical Camp (Oboz Narodowo-Radykalny, ONR). Mr Scioch was in a group of people who sat in the middle of Nowy Swiat Street in Warsaw along which the march was proceeding. The police forcibly removed them and a few weeks later he was called to the police station and charged with the offence of ‘preventing a lawful demonstration celebrating the victory of the Polish soldiers over the Red Army.’ In his opinion this description of the events is a gross misrepresentation of what happened. He pleaded ‘not-guilty’ and is now awaiting trial.

Another ‘NEVER AGAIN’ activist, Rafal Maszkowski, participated on 29 April 2017 in a protest against the demonstration commemorating the anniversary of the establishment of the fascist National-Radical Camp in 1934. The ONR members were marching on the streets of the Polish capital shouting slogans such as ‘Death to the enemies of the Fatherland’, ‘No Islam, terrorists, Muslims in our country’ and ‘The white warriors are coming.’ Mr Maszkowski joined a group of people sitting in the street and holding hands in front of the march. As he recalls: ‘the police forcibly removed us one by one and carried us to a fenced off area. However, the officers took no action against the marching fascists.’

– ‘The activities of the extreme right in Poland are getting more and more bold and ostentatious. The musical festivals and marches which they organize allegedly to celebrate various national holidays are but an umbrella for the rallies of neo-nazis from all over Europe. It is depressing to see that the anti-racist activists are facing consequences in the courts’ – said Anna Tatar.

Despite the pressure, the activities of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association do not cease or diminish. In the autumn of 2017, ‘NEVER AGAIN’ protested against the planned visit of Richard Spencer, a US ‘alt-right’ leader who had been expecting to take part in the 11 November Independence Day celebrations in Warsaw.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. The mission of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is to promote multicultural understanding and to contribute to the development of a democratic civil society in Poland and in the broader region of Central and Eastern Europe. It received personal endorsements from figures such as Jan Karski, Simon Wiesenthal and US President Barack Obama, among others.

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