The Polish Witold Dobrowolski was formerly the editor of the neo-Nazi magazine SZTURM1, before working full-time as a "photojournalist," traveling the world to "report" on violent uprisings.
SZTURM, which also publishes a nationalist book series, is affiliated with various neo-Nazi groups in Europe, and delegates of the magazine have attended relevant events in the scene. Below a picture of such a reunion in Sofia, Bulgaria, in April 2019, where the "Fortress Europe" alliance was established, whose goal is a white-only Europe. The German neo-Nazi party Die Rechte published a news item on its website that the following groups had taken part in the meeting2:
1. Бытарски Национален Съюз (БНС) / Bulgarian National Union (BNS) - Bulgaria
2. Die Rechte - Germany
3. Les Nationalistes / The Nationalists - France
4. Légio Hupgária / Legion Hungary (NSF) - Hungary
5. Národní a sociální fronta (NSF) / National and Social Front (NSF) - Czech Republic
6. Szturm I Assault - Poland
The "Fortress Europe" alliance with Matthias Deyda in Sofia, Bulgaria on April 20, 2019.
An article by the Polish Krytyka provides some details in regards to Dobrowolski's neo-Nazi past3:
East[ern Europe] is the second most important direction for Szturm. Unlike most Polish nationalists, they sympathize with the Banderites and the neo-Nazi Azov battalion. You can see here the aftermath of the thoughts of their mentor, Tomasz Szczepański from Niklot, who has been promoting the concept of an alliance in the Intermarium region since the 1980s, as well as numerous relations with the Ukrainians of the NOP leader Adam Gmurczyk. They have clearly managed to pass on their contacts to the younger generation: in Ukraine, Szturm cooperates mainly with the Azov National Corps and the Karpatska Sich. They have looser contacts with the Right Sector and Swoboda.
Witold Dobrowolski is particularly active in this field. Originally from Zakopane, former member of ONR Podhale, later in the All-Polish Youth (Młodzieży Wszechpolskiej), in 2014 he ran for the European Parliament from the Krakow National Movement (Ruchu Narodowego) lists. Today he is finishing his studies at the East European Studies at the University of Warsaw. He has visited the battle zone in Donbas many times and is working as a liaison with the Azovians. His counterpart on the Ukrainian side is Azov's spokesman, Vladyslav Kovalchuk, who has been studying in Poland for several years.
Witold Dobrowolski at the 1st Intermarium Support Group conference on July 2, 2016.
Dobrowolski appeared as speaker on the 1st Paneuropa Conference on April 28, 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The next two speeches confirmed that for Eastern Europe the political struggle was mostly about the economic development and autarky in the name of the nations’ well-being. Witold Dobrowolski, editor of the Polish “SZTURM” magazine and, c was one of the first to launch the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation and cooperation along with Vladyslav Kovalchuk, on the Ukrainian part.
Apart from contributing thematic materials to “SZTURM” and other editions, Witold arrived as a photo correspondent at the revolutionary Maidan in its bloodiest period to highlight these events in Poland. Right afterwards, he went on the expedition to the war-torn Donbas, having visited Donetsk and besieged Slovyansk, where he was almost captured by the militants of “DNR,” as well as Pisky, Debaltsevo and Mariupol (as a guest of the AZOV battalion). Along with the Donbas battalion he witnessed the deadliest Ilovaysk battle in which participated the regular army of the Russian Federation. The results of these risky trips Witold Dobrowolski presented in the series of photo exhibitions “From Maidan to Donbas. Ukraine 2014-2015,” which took place in Warsaw and Zakopane. Besides, Witold academically studies the history of Ukrainian nationalism and the AZOV movement in particular.
Soon after the solidarity action with Ukrainian nationalists of National Corps at the March of the Nation on the 20th of May, 2016, Witold Dobrowolski, on behalf of the “SZTURM” magazine, presented the programme of the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation at the 1st conference of the Intermarium Development Assistance Group held July 2-3, 2016. Among other issues, on the conference’s sidelines was planned a joint commemoration action of Ukrainian and Polish civil victims of the ethnic clashes in the 40-s of the 20th century, the Wolyn massacre in particular. This idea was successfully implemented in August when Polish and Ukrainian nationalists put flowers at the memorials to the victims on both sides as their common stance against chauvinism and in favor of the “futurology” of international relations instead of the focus on the past. Actually, the step that was made in the Ukrainian-Polish relations was so big that the region’s enemies, the current Russian regime in particular, made everything possible to stage chauvinistic provocations against the new East Slavic reconciliation that is taking shape.
In his speech at the 1st Paneuropa conference, Witold Dobrowolski mentioned such instances: in October of 2016, was destroyed the grave of the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) soldiers in the Polish village of Werchrata; in January of 2017, was desecrated the monument in Huta Pieniacka and in the Bykownia Cemetery; in March of 2017, a sign of the Idea of Nation used by the AZOV movement and an anti-Polish slogan were painted on the commemorative crucifix in Gdansk by the unknown perpetrators, and this list is not exhaustive. Recently, the provocations reached a whole new level: overnight into March 29, 2017, Poland’s Consulate in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk was shelled with a grenade launcher. However, the provocateurs who dared to commit similar actions openly did not remain unpunished: for instance, Polish nationalists seized banners and “conducted a preventive talk” with Damian Bienko, leader of Narodowa Wolna Polska who burned a Ukrainian flag at the Polish Independence March in 2016, which has become a powerful message to the intrudes opposing the Intermarium and Polish-Ukrainian friendship.
Yet lately emerged another challenge to the Ukrainian-Polish friendship caused by the economic destabilization in Ukraine as a result of a hybrid war in the East: economic migration of Ukrainians to Poland. In the light of the previous speech, it is clear that both countries suffer from this growing tendency. At present, there are over 1 million economic immigrants in Poland; by the end of this year, their number will have doubled.
The problem has many facets: ethical, economic, and social. Polish nationalists, undoubtedly, are willing to preserve Poland as an exemplary monoethnic state. They anxiously observe the ghettoization process among Ukrainian students who resist assimilation and in the future might play a subversive role in a Polish society. In the economic respect, Poles are afraid of the job deprivation due to the cheaper Ukrainian labour force, which feeds chauvinistic sentiments. In the social field, Ukrainians are being exploited by the capitalists who underpay the wages, provide low work conditions, give no medical insurance, etc. Polish nationalists, stressed Witold Dobrowolski, are well aware of the fact that Poles abroad, especially in London, face exactly the same problem.
Given that the Ukrainian immigration to Poland is favored both by the conservative government formed by the Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (Law and Justice) ruling party and entrepreneurs who plan to bring 4 million immigrants more in the future, Witold Dobrowolski suggests the following measures: attacking international corporations, stigmatizing entrepreneurs exploiting and bringing Ukrainians, starting work with trade unions to combat exploitation (both of Ukrainians and Poles abroad), carrying out information campaigns and initiating the legislative changes on both sides.
It should be noted that negotiations with various Polish anti-immigrant forces and Ukrainian patriots has already successfully begun. During the discussions, was also raised the importance of highlighting in a common information space the historical figures like Marshal Josef Pilsudski under whose command, along with the Army of the Ukrainian People’s Republic headed by Symon Petliura, took place the famous anti-Bolshevik campaign under the slogan “For Our Freedom and Yours!” The request was eagerly fulfilled. May 12, 2017, Polish nationalists commemorated Josef Pilsudski in Warsaw, which is the anniversary of not only the May Coup in Poland carried out by Marshal, but also the day he died, and drew public attention to his Intermarium project and the agreement on the creation of the Polish-Ukrainian federation as our guideline today.5
In December 2017, Witold Dobrowolski appeared as a speaker at a neo-Nazi conference in Zagreb, entitled "One century after the October Revolution. What can the Right learn frrom the Left?"6 Also present was a National Corps delegation, headed by Ukrainian neo-Nazi figurehead Olena Semenyaka. Semenyaka wrote in an article summarizing the event6:
The interventions and presentations covered a wide range of topics from the lessons of Leninism in the organization of the revolutionary process (Kresimir Dzoic) and late post-ideological Soviet futurology (Sviatoslav Vychynskyi) to the strategy of achieving political hegemony through the cultural and intellectual/institutional activities developed by the neo-Marxists Antonio Gramsci and Rudi Dutschke (Leo Maric) and to the phenomenon of right-wing squats (discussed by Witold Dobrowolski using related examples from CasaPound Italia, the Cossack House, the Youth Centre of the National Corps, the activities of the Hogar Social Madrid in Spain and the Bastion Social in France).
Delegation of the National Corps at a neo-Nazi conference in Croatia in December 2017.
In the autumn of 2019, Dobrowolski seems to have spent an extended period of time in Hong Kong (September-December 2019).7
Witold Dobrowolski's check-ins Facebook
In mid-November, he appeared right amidst the black block of the Hong Kong protestors close to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.8 It was there, where a showdown between the police and students had taken place, during which more than 1,000 students were detained and thousands of weapons were seized.9 According to the South China Morning Post “a total of 3,989 petrol bombs, 1,339 pieces of explosives and 601 bottles of corrosive liquid were found at PolyU.”10 Whether Dobrowolski has any connection to the group of Azov-affiliated neo-Nazis that had visited Hong Kong in early December 2019, remains open.
Picture by Witold Dobrowolski showing black block protestors in Hong Kong.
In early February 2020, Dobrowolski traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, reporting on protests there, and clashes with the police.
Witold Dobrowolski reporting on clashes with the police in Beirut, Lebanon.
In mid-May 2020, Dobrowolski "documented" nationalist demonstrations in Warsaw, Poland, where he appeared again right in the middle of the black block.
Picture by Witold Dobrowolski of a nationalist demonstration in Warsaw Poland, posted May 16, 2020.
Witold Dobrowolski amidst the black block of a nationalist demonstration. Picture from May 23, 2020.
In late May 2020, Dobrowolski traveled to Hong Kong to "document" the protests there. He won a renowned Polish award for the pictures taken there (Grand Press Photo),11 with a big feature in the Polish magazine Press.12 Apparently the curators have not looked into his background (or even worse, endorsed it).
Witold Dobrowolski in front of an exhibition of his Hong Kong protest photos in the context of the Grand Press Photo price in July 2020.
In August 2020, Dobrowolski appeared in the context of the Belarus color uprisings. He was traveling to Minks on August 6, 2020, according to his Facebook page.13 Also in Belarus, Dobrowolski seems to have been just a step away from violent black block agitators, as photos on Facebook suggest.
Witold Dobrowolski with an armed demonstrator in Minsk, Belarus, in August 2020.
Apparently he was among the many protesters who had been detained and mistreated during the protests in mid-August. Upon his release, Dobrowolski was interviewed by the BBC about his detention, where he was simply introduced as "photojournalist," not in the least mentioning his neo-Nazi connections.14 On Twitter he wrote: "Kidnapped, tortured and sent to gulag but now free and safe with members of polish diplomacy."15
Witold Dobrowolski interviewed by the BBC about the August 2020 Belarusian protests, where he is simply introduced as "photojournalist."
Tommy Walker, a UK photo correspondent in Hong Kong, says he was invited by Witold Dobrowolski to go to Belarus in June, before the elections started:16
Witold called me a couple months ago and asked me to go with him to Belarus. And I would have been there if it wasn’t for COVID19 and all that is happening in Hong Kong.
- Facebook page of Witold Dobrowolski
- Twitter profile of Witold Dobrowolski
- Website of Szturm magazine
- Twitter account of Szturm magazine
- 1. Website of Szturm, http://www.szturm.com.pl/. As of August 2020 the editorial team is composed of: Publisher: Grzegorz Ćwik Editor-in-chief: Grzegorz Ćwik Editors: Bogusław Wagner, Adam Busse, Daniel Kitaszewski, Gregory Tchwik, Patrick Plunger, Tomasz Dryjański, Paweł Bielawski, Jan Sobanski, Patrick Paterek, Yaroslavl Ostrogniew, Michał Walkowski Miłosz Jezierski Graphics: NN
- 2. "Internationales Bündnis „Festung Europa“ unter Beteiligung der Partei DIE RECHTE gegründet!," Die Rechte, April 20, 2019, https://die-rechte.net/lv-nordrhein-westfalen/kv-dortmund-dortmundecho/internationales-buendnis-festung-europa-unter-beteiligung-der-partei-die-rechte-gegruendet/.
- 3. Przemysław Witkowski, "'Europa będzie biała albo bezludna,' czyli szturmowcy," Krytyka, April 30, 2019, https://krytykapolityczna.pl/kraj/szturmowcy-przemyslaw-witkowski/.
- 4. "The Azov Movement held the Inaugural Conference of the Intermarium Support Group," Intermarium, July 5, 2016, https://intermarium.org.ua/en/the-azov-movement-held-the-inaugural-conference-of-the-intermarium-support-group-2/.
- 5. "1st Paneuropa Conference Report," Reconquista Europe, June 15, 2017. Archived version from June 13, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20180613133924/http://reconquista-europe.tumblr.com/post/161847863121/1st-paneuropa-conference-report-the-1st-paneuropa.
- 6. a. b. Facebook post by Pascal Lassalle, January 12, 2018, https://www.facebook.com/pascal.lassalle.96/posts/766669533528791.
- 7. Witold Dobrowolski's Facebook check-ins, https://www.facebook.com/jozef.diehl/map.
- 8. Facebook post by Witold Dobrowolski, November 12, 2019, https://www.facebook.com/jozef.diehl/posts/2405834289636726.
- 9. Ben Westcott, Jessie Yeung and Steve George, “Hong Kong police surround university as violent standoff with students continues,” CNN, November 19, 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/asia/live-news/hong-kong-protests-live-nov-18-intl-hnk/h_7806c2a38f45d96f5f2b6eb1236e7ead.
- 10. Danny Mok, “Hong Kong protests: more petrol bombs and offensive weapons found at Polytechnic University on SundayHong Kong protests: more petrol bombs and offensive weapons found at Polytechnic University on Sunday,” South China Morning Post, December 2, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3040136/hong-kong-protests-more-petrol-bombs-and-offensive-weapons.
- 11. Facebook post by Witold Dobrowolski, July 17, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/jozef.diehl/posts/2608331186053701.
- 12. Facebook post by Witold Dobrowolski, July 15, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/jozef.diehl/posts/2606837469536406.
- 13. Facebook post by Witold Dobrowolski, August 6, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/jozef.diehl/posts/2623976631155823.
- 14. "BBC grilled for interviewing ‘Polish neo-Nazi’ about Belarus protests," RT, August 18, 2020, https://www.rt.com/news/498334-belarus-reporter-bbc-neo-nazi/.
- 15. Witold Dobrowolski on Twitter, August 14, 2020, https://twitter.com/WitDobro/status/1294037376977768448.
- 16. Facebook post by Tommy Walker, August 13, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/TommyWalker.Co/posts/582736142414776?.