During the concert at the biggest charity event in Poland, the mayor of Gdańsk was attacked and injured. The action brings money to hospitals every year, but is criticized by the government.

On the second Sunday in January, the markets and streets of many Polish cities are transformed into gigantic stages for concerts and other performances. This was also the case in Gdansk, where Mayor Pawel Adamowicz took part in the grand finale of the fundraising campaign “Big Orchestra of Christmas Relief”. He was attacked by a man with a knife on the stage (item picture). Witnesses heard that the perpetrator had called him innocent in the days of the predecessor government of the Civic Platform (PO) in prison.

Adamowitz, who also belongs to the PO, had to be revived after agency reports at the scene. Then the 53-year-old came to the University Hospital, where he was notoperated. He remains in mortal danger, reported a surgeon of the hospital. The attacker could still be overwhelmed on the scene by security forces and then arrested by the police. According to the authorities, this is a Danziger convicted of several bank robberies.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote in the short message service Twitter that “the attack on life and health of Pawel Adamowicz deserves the highest condemnation”.

The spontaneous donation campaign

The charity campaign “Large Orchestra of Christmas Aid” (Polish WOSP) has been taking place for 27 years. It is considered, with the clear aim of helping children’s hospitals, to be the most popular fundraiser in Poland under its charismatic founder Jurek Owsiak. Every year, celebrities, school groups, associations and private individuals outdo ideas for auctions that bring money to the action. You can win a meal with EU Council President Donald Tusk, an armored car tour, a day with a TV star or bungee jumping. Every year, thousands of volunteers walk around with collecting boxes on the streets. Who donates something, gets a red heart as a sticker.

Donations save lives

The media gratefully receives the reports from patients and their families. “They saved my mother, I did not have a chance to survive, I weighed less than a kilo and just fit in Dad’s hand,” says Ada Zalewska on Facebook. Every year she runs with collection boxes for WOSP to help other premature children. “Supported, auctioned!”, Appeals the young woman.

Since 1992, the donations have been used to finance the equipment for the often under-funded Polish hospitals. The largest sums of money went to maternity wards and provided better medical care for premature babies and sick newborns. You can also see red heart stickers on the devices in other stations in many Polish hospitals. Hundreds of resuscitation units and cardiac monitors were purchased from the WOSP donations.

The action is out of favor

The man behind the action is rock musician and radio host Jurek Owsiak. When in 1992, for the first time in a radio program, he called for donations to a children’s hospital, the amount of money collected exceeded all expectations. Then he founded a foundation that organizes the fundraiser every year. He is a thorn in the side of the conservative PiS party because he advocates liberal views and gathers masses of supporters – which would be a dream for any politician.

Since 2015, the conflict between the WOSP-makers and the national-conservative PiS is smoldering. Poland’s messages abroad are no longer allowed to participate in the fundraiser. The military, which had previously auctioned courses in flight simulators, was also banned from participation. “Officials who join should quit their service the next day,” a PiS MP said.

The attacks in the media

The PiS-controlled public service television prefers to lose millions of viewers rather than live broadcasting the WOSP concerts, which has been the tradition for over 20 years. But Jurek Owsiak is in the station to the main character of a cartoon in which he brings the donation money to a politician instead of the hospitals. The message is clear and in line with the mounting accusations of pro-government media that accuse Owsiak of misappropriating donations. The clay figures have ugly distorted faces. It is an attempt to defame the PiS opponents.

The controversial music festival

The hate campaign against Owsiak also refers to his summer festival “Pol’And’Rock”. Europe’s largest open-air festival takes place in the small town of Küstrin on the German-Polish border, attracting hundreds of thousands of Polish and foreign visitors each year. It was created in 1995 to thank all volunteers of the fundraiser. However, this event has also been hanging by the thread since 2017, when Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak spoke of terrorism and justified this with refugees living in neighboring Brandenburg. As a result, Owsiak, in addition to representatives of all religions and several NGOs, also decidedly invited refugees from Germany to the festival, finally becoming the enemy of the governing party. Because: PiS is strictly against receiving refugees in Poland.

Support despite Hetzkampagne

The hate campaign does not seem to hurt him. From year to year, more and more people are getting involved in the fundraiser. More and more money comes together. All in all, it has been several hundred million euros over the years. According to a recent poll published by the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza, the WOSP is expected to enjoy the greatest trust of citizens from all Polish institutions and organizations.

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