What is “kotwica?” It is the Polish word for “anchor,” but it has a lot more meaning in Polish history–the kotwica was a World War II emblem of the Polish Underground State and the Armia Krajowa (the Home Army, or AK). The kotwica as an emblem was created in 1942 as an easily identifiable emblem for the Polish struggle to regain independence after Poland’s conquest and division by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939. The initial meaning of the initials PW was Pomścimy Wawer (“We shall avenge Wawer”). This was a reference to the Wawer massacre (26–27 December 1939), which was considered to be one of the first large scale massacres of Polish civilians by German troops in occupied Poland.
So why am I writing about this today? There is a specific reason. The Warsaw Uprising began on 01 August 1944 at precisely 5 PM. What? You don’t know about the Warsaw Uprising? If that’s the case you either (1) went to school in the US where the history of Poland is, at best lightly glossed over and/or (2) you don’t read or follow my blog, as I’ve written about it a number of times:
- August 2012
- August 2013
- August 2014 (7oth anniversary)
- August 2015
- August 2015 (the Wola Massacre)
- July 2016
And I’ve written about the kotwica before as well: http://poland.leonkonieczny.com/blog/?p=1048. This post was written in October, to commemorate the end of the Warsaw uprising, on 02 October 1944, over 2 months after it began. It was a defeat for the Poles, but in the retrospect of history, it was a victory for mankind, as Poland has emerged as a free and proud nation today.
But why remember today? Something very, VERY special happens every August 1st, all over Poland, at precisely 5 PM. All of Poland comes to a stop. All transportation, public and private. All pedestrians. All businesses. And for one minute, sirens sound as Poland remembers. It’s said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Poland does not forget.
And, if you have but one extra minute in your day today, check out this You Tube video: http://youtu.be/Ejd2rsXoQSI. This is what will happen later today, for one minute all over Poland. Never forget!