Kotwica flag flies high in Greenpoint (via Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union)

When Greenpointers received a tip last week that someone was allegedly passing out flyers identifying hate symbols following the discovery of hate stickers on McGuiness Blvd, we posted an image of the flyer to Instagram and began to receive many messages from local Polish residents that the Kotwica symbol should not be placed in the same category as the Swastika and other hate symbols. We also received messages insisting that the far right in Poland has recently used patriotic symbology during rallies, including the Kotwica. The local debate even received the attention of staff at the Polish Consulate in New York and the Greenpoint-based Polish and English radio station and news site, Radio Rampa, posted on the matter.

It’s a fact that the Kotwica is a symbol of the underground Polish resistance fighters who fought against Nazi occupation in the 1940s. The symbol to commemorate the resistance fighters is also found in Greenpoint on a flag during summer months at the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union on McGuiness Boulevard and on a mural on Eckford Street around the corner from the Warsaw music venue.

The post is still receiving new comments and one commenter states that they wear the symbol to honor their family:

I assume the creator of the flyer together w Greenpointers.com have inside knowledge into the workings of the Polish community – since “they” explicitly know “Polish American Skinheads adopted the Kotwica Sign”. I’m pretty sure it was nationalists (number of organizations have their chapters in Greenpoint) It could have been people proud of their history. Stop labeling/generalizing. I have the Kotwica T-shirt, Jacket, Hoodie. I proudly wear it all over the world to honor my grandfather who at 14 fought in the Woods of Southern Poland only to end up in the Communist prison when the West betrayed him to the Soviets. I also wear it to honor his German Shepard who was killed w the MG-42 shells by the SS when they spotted my grandpa on the trail. Next time I’ll see this “activist” around Greenpoint – I’ll ask him to point out “Polish-American Facist Skinheads”

The Polish government even named the Kotwica a “protected symbol” in 2014, and a guide to the city of Warsaw explains why visitors will spot the symbol everywhere during the summer.

Walking the streets of Warsaw – particularly around August 1st – you see the Kotwica (“anchor”) everywhere – scrawled on the sides of buildings, adorning monuments and memorials, printed on t-shirts and pins, the occasional tattoo. For those who don’t know its significance, the ubiquity of the anchor may seem strange. The Kotwica, however, isn’t just any anchor – it’s the symbol of the Warsaw Uprising. In a city committed to remembering its past, there is perhaps no event more commemorated than the Warsaw Uprising. Though brutally suppressed, the Polish fight against Nazi occupation from 1 August to 3 October 1944, is remembered as emblematic of the nation’s commitment to freedom and her willingness to sacrifice in the battle against oppression.

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”).

While the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbol database does not identify the Kotwica, some of the commentators on our follow-up post insist that the Kotwica is a common sight at far right demonstrations in Poland:

The reason it found it’s way on the flyer is because of the way it’s being used in Poland right now by the nationalist far right wingers. I don’t deny it’s positive meaning during WWII, but you can’t omit it’s dual meaning and keep that out of the discussion.

The comment also represents the private messages that we received on the matter insisting that the Kotwica, much like patriotic symbols in America, have been co-opted by ultranationalist hate groups. It’s difficult to confirm how the symbol is currently being used by unofficial groups in Poland, but Greenpoint residents should not be alarmed by the Kotwica, that’s unless it’s being used alongside hate symbols.

Join the Conversation

5

  1. Anna Smolenska is the person who created the symbol of PW ( Polska-Walcząca / Fighting Poland) She was a resistance fighter that was murdered by the German Nazis in Auschwitz along with 3 of her family members. Her father was tortured to death by the German Nazis. The “Kotwica” sign was and it still is a symbol of fight against the nazis. It is ridicules, insulting and disrespectful to call it any other way and especially to put it in the same bag with nazi symbols. The 6 Million Poles that perished during WW II fighting against the two evils of the 21 Century ( Nazis & Communists) deserve their memory to be respected. The person who passed that flyers and suggested that “Kotwica” is a nazi symbol actually profanated and disrespected the memory of all those victims. Instead of fighting the neo-nazis – they disrispected their victims – that is wrong and it should be condemned. The “Kotwica” Symbol is a source of a great pride for Polish people and also a reminder of the great tragedy of WW2 as well as great herosim of the people who fought against pure evil – it should be honored and respected.

  2. Okay, so by that logic, the alleged and allegedly fascist appropriators of the symbol justifies the association with fascism. Just like that. Great. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to go find some fascists and tell them to appropriate the Star of David or the Muslim crescent or whatever other symbol of some protected group and tell them to appropriate it as a fascist symbol. Then I wonder what this activist hack will say. Or maybe this activist hack should get a job. Try not to swallow so much propaganda, buddy. Wallowing in viscous ignorance can be dangerous to your health. It is really pathetic.

  3. Person who equated Kotwica with fascism/nazism should be simply sued because it is extremely offensive for Polish community worldwide. Anna Smoleńska who designed this symbol was killed in Nazi German extermination camp in Auschwitz. For Poles, Kotwica is the most important symbol of Polish resistance against Nazi Germany. I was simply shaken when I saw that somebody put it as a hate symbol along with swastika.

  4. The Ku Klux Klan uses the American flag on their marches on Washington and it doesn’t mean that the American flag is a Nazi symbol. Polish “Kotwica” has a profound symbolic meaning for Poles as an anti-Nazi emblem. So please do not suggest that it is a symbol of far-right demonstrators. It isn’t, equally, as the American flag isn’t. “Kotwica” is a legally protected symbol in Poland.

  5. Nazism and fascism are left-wing concepts, which the left-wing have in some strange way supported society as right-wing. Madness. Here is the proof: the Nazi phrase comes from the German Nazi party NSDAP. It is an abbreviation for the German National Socialist Workers’ Party. Hitler was an outstanding socialist leader, just like Mussolini, the creator of another leftist ideology, i.e. fascism. I have no idea how these two guys were qualified to the right. They were the only ones arguing with Stalin about which of the socialist ideologies is better. They or him, that is Stalin. This quarrel of socialist leaders claimed 150 million victims in the 20th century. Ergo: all left-wing movements (e.g. Antifa) fight against the right-wing, i.e. they seek to enslave people, i.e. they are fascist.Quot errat demonstrandum.

    Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator

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