Poland begins the official week-long mourning period after a plane crash killed the Polish President and 95 other officials yesterday in Russia's Smolensk region. All major online news portals, social media services, governmental websites as well as portals of Polish organizations around the world have changed their color palettes to gray, black and white to express unity with the nation's grief.
Google.pl has added a black ribbon to its main site, along with these words:
In memory of the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, and all the victims.
Gazeta.pl portal of a Polish daily is black and white now, features images of the deceased presidential couple, and has added a black ribbon to its logo:
Blogging engine Blox.pl also features a black logo now:
Governmental websites have also stripped their portals of all colors except black and white. Prezydent.pl – a portal specifically dedicated to the President himself, has posted a photograph of the presidential couple – and a quote from a poem by Zbigniew Herbert:
…and the forest of Katyń evaporates fog…
Polish Embassies and Consulates have joined in the expression of grief. The Polish Consulate in New York changed the design of their site's header:
Polish institutes around the world are also expressing their sorrow. The Polish Cultural Institute in London changed the design of their website and posted this note:
It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our nation's President, Mr. Lech Kaczynski, in the company of his gracious wife and the many statespersons who have perished along with him.
According to the appropriate protocol of State, all government institutions will commence a week long period of mourning through which we pay tribute to the exceptional individuals that we have lost. As such, all previously scheduled activities of the Polish Cultural Institute have been suspended or cancelled where delay is not possible. While this inconvenience is most regrettable we are confident that you will join with us in solidarity as we remember those lives that have passed before us.
While in Poland people are buying and displaying the Polish flag and black ribbons, all across social media users express their solidarity by adding the ‘Poland’ Twibbon to their avatars, as well as changing their avatar photos; below are examples from Nasza-Klasa [PL] social network:
A Polish blog from London, the Polski blog, posts an explanation of the extent of the current crisis [PL]:
The fact that this tragedy mirrors [the events of March 1940] is a very cruel twist of history and a massive blow to a country which in recent years has been emerging from decades of humiliation and suffering. And that’s regardless of what whoever thinks about the President, whose conservative policies and controversial comments often polarised the society.
Poland will need to brace itself for a very difficult period of rebuilding its power structures. Questions will be asked about the incident, about security policies, about the next steps. But I just hope this time Poland will take a more mature, less divisive approach to these issues.
For now, however, Poland is in the state of mourning – offline and virtually. Until Friday, we Poles will read the news, browse for information and official announcements as well as talk to each other in the palette of gray, black and red colors dominating the Polish Internet.