The coffin with the remains of Maurycy Mochnacki, an émigré activist, writer, participant and chronicler of the November Uprising was brought to Poland on Saturday. The plane from the Le Bourget airport in France landed in the morning at Okęcie, where a ceremony with the participation of state authorities took place. Mochnacki will be buried in Powązki in Warsaw.
The ceremony of bringing the remains of Maurycy Mochnacki from France to Poland began on Friday in the French Auxerre. On his last journey to his homeland, he is accompanied by soldiers and a delegation from Poland, headed by the government plenipotentiary for the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad, Jan Dziedziczak, as well as representatives of the mayor of Auxerre, the city where Mochnacki died and was buried. The Friday celebrations included a visit to the Saint-Amâtre cemetery in Auxerre and a holy mass in the Church of St. Genowephi in Auxerre.
On Saturday morning, the coffin with Mochnacki’s remains set off for his homeland. In the morning, the military CASA plane landed at the Military Airport in Warsaw, where the ceremony was held with the participation of the military honorary assistance.
During the transfer of the remains from the plane to the catafalque, the Representative Orchestra of the Polish Army played a funeral march. Then the anthem was played. The chaplain performed funeral executions at the coffin. The schedule also included speeches and a final farewell. The celebrations at the Military Airport ended with the performance of the song “Sleep, Buddy”.
Then the coffin was transported to the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army, where a funeral mass will be held at 1 p.m. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will have a speech during the mass. After the mass, the remains of the participant and chronicler of the November Uprising will be transported to the Powązki Military Cemetery, where the funeral ceremony will take place. After Mochnacki’s coffin is placed in the grave, the soldiers of the Polish Representative Company will fire a volley of honor. Wreaths will be placed on the tomb. The celebrations will end with the performance of Fryderyk Chopin’s “Funeral March”.
Chronicler of the November Uprising, journalist, emigrant
Maurycy Mochnacki was born in 1803 in Bojaniec, a village in today’s Ukraine. He is considered to be one of the most prolific political journalists of the partition period. He was known for his radicalism and his uncompromising diagnosis of the causes of Poland’s political defeats. He studied at the University of Warsaw, from where he was dismissed in 1823 by order of Prince Konstanty for belonging to the Union of Free Poles.
He was a participant in the conspiracy of Piotr Wysocki. He took part in the November Uprising. He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari. After the collapse of the uprising, he emigrated to France, where he wrote “The Uprising of the Polish Nation in 1830 and 1831”. He fell into conflicts with older and more experienced politicians of the Great Emigration operating in France. “In emigration, the civil war is still going on. Lots of parties, more and more exasperations” – he wrote in a letter to his parents on November 6, 1834.
For many decades, it was believed that Mochnacki died of the incurable and then fatal tuberculosis, common among Polish emigrants living in terrible conditions. The likely cause of death, however, was a stroke. Mochnacki was not allowed to return to Poland. He died on December 20, 1834 in Auxerre and was buried in the local cemetery.
Efforts to bring Mochnacki’s remains to Poland
In December 2020, on the occasion of the 186th anniversary of Mochnacki’s death, the prime minister announced efforts to identify the ashes of a Pole buried in exile.
“As a representative of Poland, finally fully independent and realizing its aspirations to be a strong and significant country in Europe, I felt obliged to start work aimed at bringing one of our great countrymen to the country. After archival searches and arrangements with the prefecture, the Polish embassy in Paris is working with the authorities of the city of Auxerre to enable the identification of Maurycy Mochnacki’s ashes deposited in the local cemetery, “the head of the government wrote on Facebook.
In May this year, a Polish delegation with consul Andrzej Szydło and an anthropologist and a doctor specializing in criminal genetics from the Medical University of Szczecin took bone samples from Mochnacki’s grave in Auxerre in central France in order to authenticate them for the possible repatriation of remains to Poland.
Mochnacki’s coffin was moved several times, so there were doubts as to whether his remains were buried in the grave known as Mochnacki’s grave. The bones found, including a broken femur, are the remains of a man in his thirties whose profile matches that of Mochnacki.
Main photo source: Wojciech Olkuśnik / PAP