The anchor emblem seen on walls throughout the city, indicate significant locations for the Uprising of 1944. More information below the next photo.
So what does an anchor have to do with fighting Nazis? The Kotwica is actually more than an anchor, as the figure is an amalgam of the letters P and W, which take on a number of meanings when associated with the Polish Home Army’s (AK) fight to retake Warsaw. Starting in 1942, members of the Polish underground “Wawer Minor” sabotage unit started using “PW” to signify “Pomścimy Wawer” (“We Shall Avenge Wawer”). The Wawer Massacre of December 26-27, 1939 was one of the first massacres of Poles in occupied Poland, and its memory fueled the opposition in Warsaw. The meaning of “PW” was soon expanded to include “Polska Walcząca” (“Fighting Poland”).
“PW” increasingly appeared in the city as a “signature” on acts of resistance and sabotage; and in 1942 the AK put out a call to design an emblem that could be easily printed. A design that combined the P and W into an anchor – the Kotwica – was submitted by Anna Smoleńska (code name “Hania”) and was chosen as the symbol of the underground. Smoleńska, an art history student at the underground University of Warsaw, was arrested in November of 1942 and died in Auschwitz in March 1943 at the age of 23. Thought she did not live to see an independent Warsaw, the symbol she created endured though the war and beyond. https://culture.pl/en/article/decoding-warsaw-a-guide-to-the-citys-sights-and-symbols
Why the “Mermaid of Warsaw?”
One legend claims “long, long ago” two sirens swam from the Atlantic Ocean to the Baltic Sea. One sister stopped in the Danish straits and can to this day be seen by those visiting the port of Copenhagen. The other sister (clearly the one with more discerning taste) kept swimming until she reached Gdansk, where she then turned to follow the Wisla into the heart of Poland. Reaching what is today Warsaw, she decided she had found a home and stopped at the shore to rest. It wasn’t long after her arrival that local fishermen began noticing someone was tangling their nets and releasing the fish. Though it meant a loss of livelihood, the fishermen were so enchanted by the siren’s song that they never caught her. That is, until a wealthy merchant realized he could make a profit showing off the siren at fairs. He captured the Wisla siren and locked her away in a shed. The siren’s plaintive cries were heard by a young farmhand, who with the help of his friends, returned her to the river. Grateful to her rescuers, the siren vowed to help them in times of need. The siren of Warsaw is thus armed, waiting with sword and shield to make good on her promise and defend the city.
A second tale again highlights the mermaid as the armed defender of the city, though with a different origin story. This one claims that “in ancient times” a griffin defended the city. The griffin would often accompany local fishermen to the Baltic, and on one such journey he spotted a mermaid. It was love at first sight, and the mythical pair returned to live happily in Warsaw – until the griffin was mortally wounded during the Swedish invasion. As the siege of Warsaw raged around her, the mermaid picked up the arms of her dying lover and joined the defense of the city. In gratitude of her service and sacrifice, the people of Warsaw honored her by placing her image on the city’s coat of arms. https://culture.pl/en/article/decoding-warsaw-a-guide-to-the-citys-sights-and-symbols
Sigismund’s Column (Polish: Kolumna Zygmunta), originally erected in 1644, is located in Castle Square, Warsaw, Poland and is one of Warsaw‘s most famous landmarks. The column and statue commemorate King Sigismund III Vasa, who in 1596 had moved Poland‘s capital from Kraków to Warsaw.(Wiki)
The Royal Castle in Warsaw (Polish: Zamek Królewski w Warszawie) is a castle residency that formerly served throughout the centuries as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. It is located in the Castle Square, at the entrance to the Warsaw Old Town. The personal offices of the king and the administrative offices of the Royal Court of Poland were located there from the sixteenth century until the Partitions of Poland.(Wiki)
13-15sep18. Warsaw Poland 🇵🇱