In 1683, it was the people of Vienna who found themselves, for the second time in the city’s history, on the front line of the latest Muslim incursion into Europe. For two months, the city was besieged by a numerically far superior Ottoman army, and with supply lines cut off and the crumbling city walls coming under sustained attack, disease, starvation and desperation were beginning to set in.

It was a pan-European force led by the Polish king Jan Sobieski which came to the relief of the stricken city, and the Battle of Kahlenberg on the hill of the same name just outside Vienna, won by the alliance between the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, marked the end of the Islamic threat in central Europe up until our own era.

Since 2017, a memorial march has been held in September every year to commemorate this major turning point in European history and to honour the fortitude shown by a previous generation of Viennese in defence of their city, and this year a delegation from the Identitarian Foundation was in attendance to show our support.

After taking a train, bus and then a taxi from the centre of Vienna, we found the route to Kahlenberg blocked by Antifa, who had also occupied the site where the rally was due to take place, and after a while we discovered the event had had to be moved at very short notice to the city centre. Getting back into town and finding the starting point with literally seconds to spare before the march set off, we joined about 400 other people, mostly locals but including many from across Europe, for a torchlit rally through the majestic streets of Vienna.

Despite the sudden change of venue and the impact this must have had on the attendance, the event was very well organised and the stewards clearly well trained, and the large police presence defending the march professional and unintrusive. Those taking part in the march were without exception well-behaved and respectable-looking, mostly young men and women but also including people from all age groups.

There were the occasional shrill cries of “Faschisten!” from the few left-wing demonstrators who had made it back from the forest in time to cause more trouble, and at least two photographers had got themselves a good vantage point to take photos of people taking part in the march in the hope of being able to dox them. The fact that the event was so good-natured and the reason for it so worthy made it almost surreal to even consider the idea that anybody could possibly have any reason to oppose those wanting to be a part of it.

After passing by St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the most important landmark in Vienna, the march came to an end with speeches, including one by a former Austrian MEP and current member of the Vienna city council, who stressed how important it was for young people to be aware of their history and how important it was to commemorate the sacrifices made at the Battle of Kahlenberg in an era when political Islam was starting to establish itself in Europe and when Turkish president Erdogan was becoming ever more assertive.

In recent years, large torchlit rallies have become a firm fixture of the independence day celebrations in cities such as Warsaw and the Baltic capitals in particular. And each year, the crowds get bigger and bigger and include more and more patriots from other countries, who recognise how the struggle to defend our identities transcends national borders and former rivalries. Ruuben Kaalep, one of the main organisers of the independence day rally in Tallinn and now a member of the Estonian parliament despite only being in his mid-twenties, has said that “The flames of their torches are the hope of Europe, a Europe of homelands, in which the roots of each people will sink deep and nourish rich and everlasting identities”.

It is our job as Identitarians to lay the cultural groundwork to ensure that one day, London too can play host to joyful, peaceful, affirmative and attractive torchlit rallies full of thousands of regular decent men and women, happily celebrating the ethno-cultural identity that makes them who they are.

 

Ben Harrison is an Identitarian author and commentator, and a coordinator of the Identitiarian Foundation.