Symbols of Warsaw: the Fighting Poland Sign (Kotwica)

The Kotwica (Polish for “Anchor”) was a World War II emblem of the Polish Secret State and Armia Krajowa (Home Army, or AK). It was created in 1942 by members of the AK Wawer “Small Sabotage” unit as an easily-usable emblem for the Polish struggle to regain independence. The “Anchor” is a combination of the letters PW, standing for Polska Walcząca (“Fighting Poland”).

The Kotwica was first painted on walls in Warsaw, as a psychological-warfare tactic against the occupying Germans, by Polish boy scouts on March 20, 1942. On June 27, 1942, a new tradition was born: to commemorate the patron saint’s day of Polish President Władysław Raczkiewicz and Commander-in-Chief Władysław Sikorski, members of the Armia Krajowa stamped several hundred copies of the German-backed propaganda newspaper “The New Warsaw Courier”, with the Kotwica. Initially, only 500 copies were so stamped; the following year, the number reached 7,000.

On February 18, 1943, the AK commander, General Stefan Rowecki, issued an order specifying that all sabotage, partisan and terrorist actions be signed with the Kotwica. On February 25, the official organ of the Armia Krajowa, Biuletyn Informacyjny, called the Kotwica “the sign of the underground Polish Army”. Soon the symbol gained enormous popularity and became recognized by most Poles. It was painted on the walls of Polish cities, stamped on German banknotes and post stamps, printed in the headers of the underground newspapers and books, and it became one of the symbols of the Warsaw Uprising.

Nowadays Kotwica marks WWII memorial plaques and monuments in Warsaw and other Polish cities, as well as the Monument to Warsaw Uprising and the Museum to Warsaw Uprising in Warsaw.

While walking in the city – look around carefully. You will be surprised how many of them you may notice….

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