01 August – Warsaw Uprising Anniversary and Street Art

As much as Warsaw has become a modern, fast and exciting cultural hotspot, it is this time of year when Varsovians remember and reflect upon their shared history. No more so is this evident than on 01 August at 17.00 when the city comes to a standstill for one minute as sirens wail and cars blow their horns to remember the sacrifices made during the Warsaw Uprising (Powstanie Warszawskie), which began at the same time in 1944, known as ‘Godzina W’ (W-Hour, the W standing for ‘wybuch, or ‘explosion’ in English). The wartime Home Army resistance fought the Nazis for 63 days with 200,000 people perishing and the city becoming a ruin.

Like a phoenix from the ashes Warsaw arose once more and is now the vibrant city you see today. But remember, this is a city littered with the shadows of the past, and in August especially, there will be various commemorations taking place around Warsaw to remember wartime sacrifices. Don’t be surpised if you’re relaxing in an outdoor cafe and see reenactors dressed as Home Army resistance soldiers run past holding mock WWII era weaponry.

Aside from the usual acts of memorial, you may see a curious symbol on walls – that of the ‘kotwica’ (anchor) symbol linking the letters P and W, an abbreviation of ‘Polska Walcząca’ (Fighting Poland). The symbol originated with Polish scouts in 1942 who would paint the symbol on walls as a form of defiance and psychological warfare against the occupying Germans.

Today, street art is as popular in Warsaw as any other city in the world and there are modern equivalents of the Kotwica and even a new mural in Wola to commemorate those who suffered during the Uprising:

PW symbol on Śląsko-Dąbrowski bridge, on the ‘wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie’ side.

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PW symbol just across the street from the above PW on Śląsko-Dąbrowski bridge, found on the building of the Mazovian Centre for Dentistry.


Ul. Płocka 41 (Wola district), “Pamięć o Cywilnej Ludności Powstańczej Warszawy” (In memory of civilians of the Warsaw Uprising). It took 3 people 6 days to paint this street art over a space of 180m2, at a cost of 15,000zł.

If you look carefully, there are also various examples of original wartime graffiti dotted around the city:

Ul. Filtrowa 57 (Śródmieście district) – originally painted in 1944 and painted over in 1945, these symbols were uncovered again in 2014 during renovation works.

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Ul. Filtrowa 57 (Śródmieście district) – originally  painted in 1944 and painted over in 1945, this symbols was uncovered again in 2014 during renovation works


Ul. Ligocka on the corner of Ul. Króżańska (Mokotów district) – a swastika hanging from the gallows, painted in the spring of 1942 by an unknown Polish scout.


MORE about the Warsaw Uprising.


Photos from Teraz44 (© 2014 Marcin Dziedzic)

The Warsaw Uprising Museum

Monument to the Warsaw Uprising

The Little Insurgent Monument

Warsaw Uprising Cemetery

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