Tag Archives: Poles

How others challenged powerful foreign occupiers?

3 Mar

gameBelow are only few examples of much richer repertoire of nonviolent actions undertaken by nations that fought formidable foreign occupiers. Even though some of the actions were undertaken centuries or few decades ago many of them are easily transferable to the contemporary situations in which a nation faces a powerful foreign invader:

Americans under the British colonial control:
– refused to buy and consume the British goods
– refused to import the British goods to the American colonies

Hungarians under the Austrian imperial rule: 
– wore symbolic clothing, hairstyles and jewelery in national colors
– showed performances in theaters that carried coded anti-imperial messages
– set up plays for the public that affirmed the Hungarian culture and identity
– treated Austrian troops as persona non grata and refused to communicate with them on all levels
– refused to speak German socially
– boycotted Austrian goods

Poles under the partitions:
– developed Polish social, economic, and cultural organizations
– celebrated national poets, writers and musicians
– organized public commemoration and anniversaries of historical events significant for the nation
– developed and strengthened patriotic education of all Polish-speaking classes: peasants, workers, aristocrats
– kept sober and disciplined in villages and towns
– pushed for the rapid development of the Polish economy to stall the German ‘land-grab’ and slow down the expansion of the German settlements

Burmese under the British colonial rule:
– wore the native homespun cloth
– displaying signboards in support of homemade goods
– song patriotic songs at the opening of any social event
– boycotted colonial social titles

Algerians under the French colonial system:
– set up and printed various periodicals and newspapers that demanded full citizenship rights
– opened cultural and fraternal clubs, and literature, music, geography, and sports associations
– led general strike and stay-ins at home

Egyptians under the British colonial system:
– protested on the streets with women leading the protests
– launched a signature collection campaign in support of full independence for Egypt through peaceful means
– used plays, music, and literature to advocate resistance for national liberation

Danes under the Nazi occupation:
– boycotted German cultural events
– joined Danish cultural organizations
– used ‘V’ (Victory) sign instead of handshake and painted it on walls
– wore coins bearing the Queen’s portrait
– workers worked slowly and badly in factories controlled by the Germans
– wore a paperclip “we stick together”
– wore a red carnation on King’s birthday

Kosovars under the Serbian rule:
– sounded factory hooters and car-horns at set times
– lighted candles and made noise at the time of curfew

Palestinians against the Israeli occupation: 
– printed black mourning bands on the front pages of the Palestinian newspapers
– women organized a silent procession, and submitted statements to diplomatic consulates
– produced and translated writings on nonviolent resistance
– led public prayers
– rang church bells
– went on fasting
– went on hunger strikes
– organized protests together with the Israeli groups that opposed the occupation


Information about nonviolent actions from some national liberation struggles listed above comes from Recovering Nonviolent History. Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles edited by Maciej Bartkowski and published in 2013 by Lynne Rienner Publsihers.

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