Stamps convey meaning: the Polish Postal Service refers to the Warsaw Uprising

          Despite the fact that in the communist-governed Poland stamps referring to the Second World War's events began to be printed as soon as in the year 1945 (liberation of ten cities - February 12, 1945 and the anniversary of fighting for Westerplatte - September 1, 1945), the first stamp mentioning the Warsaw Uprising was to appear in public as late as after twenty years.
          In the period of time between October 1945 and January 1946 a heartrending stamp series entitled "Warsaw is accusing" was published, the one relating to the exhibition that had been earlier organized by the Capital City Reconstruction Office in the National Museum. These stamps show the pictures of six Warsaw buildings, taken before WW II, and the views of the ruins afterwards. Strictly speaking, we can see: The Royal Castle, the St. John Cathedral, the Jab這nowski Palace, the Main Post Office at the Napoleon Square, the Saski Palace and the St. Cross church.

          On January 17, 1946 the whole series was republished, this time with the inscription "Free Warsaw: January 17, 1945 - 1946".

          In the year 1946 a series entitled "Air mail" was printed. All its stamps showed a drawing of a C-47 Dakota airplane just over the symbolic ruins of Warsaw. The truth is, the air drops over the Uprising Warsaw were possible thanks to airplanes of different kinds, i.e. Liberator and Halifax, but the then stamp project authors could have known nothing about that. C-47 airplanes belonged to the equipment used by Polish pilots who served in the Royal Air Force. Because of that, this series can be said to be the only one in the 20-postwar-year-period stamp collection directly referring to the Warsaw Uprising.



          On August 1, 1964 the first stamp called in the Polish Postal Service archives "the 20th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising" was to be seen. Its value was 60 groszy and there were 4 198 000 copies issued, whereas the average commemorative stamp edition at that time was 8000 000 copies (the most popular "brown sailing ship" that cost 60 groszy was issued in the number of 565000000 copies). The stamp project author was Ryszard Dudzicki (1930-2013), the Warsaw illustrator, author of over 200 stamp projects for both Polish Postal Service and other countries. The drawing on the stamp presents three characters of insurgents against the background of a burning house.

          After the year 1964 the Uprising anniversaries disappeared from the Polish stamps for the next twenty years. The only one exception was a stamp issued in 1965 in the series "Seven centuries of Warsaw"; its title was "the Monument of the Heroes of Warsaw 1939-1945", i.e. the Monument of Nike. Its edition was much lower than other stamps of this series but it was additionally decorated.

          Stamp collectors pay attention to the first days of stamp circulation. The date August 1 was thoroughly avoided in the Polish People's Republic stamp issuing (with an exception of the insurgent stamp of the year 1964) till August 1, 1967 where the 100th anniversary of the birth of Maria Sk這dowska-Curie, that was to be commemorated in November. Since that time August 1 has been the day of issuing stamps of various subject matters.
          In October 1972 an illustrator Tadeusz Michaluk put an image of a sculpture by Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz "the Little Insurgent", made in the year 1946, which was very popular among Warsaw people, on a stamp propagating the erection of the Child's Health Centre. The presence of "the Little Insurgent" on a stamp was justified by the fact that the Centre had been designed as a hospital-monument devoted to children - victims of WW II. On the first day of this stamp's circulation there was neither the Little Insurgent monument at Podwale nor the hospital whose erection act was put in Mi璠zylesie in June 1973. Nevertheless, the hospital was opened in May 1977 and in order to see the monument at Podwale we had to wait till October 1983.

          On August 1, 1984 the stamp series "the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising" was issued. The number of four stamps (4, 5, 6 and 25 Polish z這tych) was typical to commemorative stamp series (the most popular denomination of 5 z這tych was issued in the number of 8500 000 copies). The stamps were designed by Wojciech Freudenreich, the author of many stamps and book coverages (among the others: "Pami皻nik z powstania warszawskiego" by Miron Bia這szewski and "Warszawa jaka by豉"). His projects show black and white photographs and are enriched with white and red as well as red elements such as: insurgent armbands, the Scout Field Post stamp and the Red Cross sign. Photographs present the following: the group of soldiers at an assembly (4 z這tych), an insurgent carrying letters (5 z這tych), the group of soldiers in combat (6 z這tych) and the wounded being dressed by the medical service (25 z這tych).



          Despite the (non-existing) atmosphere of the Warsaw Uprising in the official Polish People's Republic's propaganda, from the year 1981 it started to change, and after the year 1989 a clear breakthrough was to be seen. In the Second World War anniversary celebrations the events connected with the People's Army ceased to predominate, but it was not visible in stamp collections.
          In the year 1989, at the 45th anniversary of the events of 1944, there were issued the following stamps: firstly, those devoted to the Monte Cassino battle, the ones with the image of General W豉dys豉w Anders, secondly those commemorating the Falaise battle, the ones with the image of General Stanis豉w Maczek and also those devoted to the Arnhem landing operation, the ones with the image of General Stanis豉w Sosabowski. However, the Warsaw Uprising anniversary was not commemorated in any way. The politics observed the transitional year, which meant that the Polish Postal Service issued a stamp "the 45th anniversary of the Citizen's Militia and the Security Service", just between the Monte Cassino and the Falaise battles. The only one reference to the Warsaw Uprising in that year was issuing - among the multiannual series "Distinctions of the People's Polish Army" - the stamp with the Medal for Warsaw, which used to be given in years 1945-1999 also for participation in the Warsaw Uprising.

          In December 1991 an understated series "the Home Army commanders", with the images of General Micha Tokarzewski-Karaszewicz, General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, General Stefan Rowecki, General Tadeusz Komorowski and General Leopold Okulicki, was issued. Although the stamps looked like the ones from great editions (monochromatic and small) and had big denominations, they had been printed in the number of 2000000 copies each while great editions at that time meant 50000000 copies.



          A similar series entitled "80 years of scouting in Poland", also issued in December 1991, included a stamp value 3500 z這tych with the inscription "Grey Regiments 1944", which presented a scout boy fighting on a barricade during the Warsaw Uprising. This stamp was designed by Micha Piekarski.

          In November 1992 a series entitled "The Home Army: one year of its history" was issued; it was made of two stamps of 1500000 copies each and one stamp in a pad - 850000 copies. These stamps valued 1500 and 3500 z這tych show the archive photographs of the Home Army soldiers as well as the Home Army Cross. The stamp of value 20 000 z這tych with the inscription WP AK (the Polish Army, the Home Army) was being sold in a pad exclusively. There one could read a fragment of the last order given by the Chief Home Army Commander General Leopold Okulicki on January 19, 1945, stating as follows, "(...) Forever faithful to Poland only..." This stamp in a pad cost 500 z這tych more. This extra charge was allocated to the One Year of the Home Army History Fund. The whole series was designed by Janusz Wysocki.


          In September 1993 a stamp "the Silent-Dark Home Army Soldiers", with a drawing of a Halifax airplane and parachute canopies was issued.

          In September 1994 at last, there was printed a stamp entitled "the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising". It was understated indeed, valued 2500 z這tych and had only 1000000 copies. It had been designed by a Turkish illustrator, an inhabitant of Warsaw, Yakup Erol. The stamp shows a metal eagle of the Polish Army based on the year 1919 (that was being used by the Warsaw insurgents), tied with a white and red band. This symbol of eagle differs from the one that was being produced in the underground Poland. The latter would have the Fighting Poland anchor on its shield.

          In the subsequent fifteen years, i.e. from 1994 to 2009, Polish stamps seemed not to notice the Warsaw Uprising anniversaries. Yet, few references to the subject matter was to be noticed.
          In the year 1996, on January 2, to be precise, a stamp was issued on the occasion of the 75th birth anniversary of Krzysztof Kamil Baczy雟ki. The stamp, designed by Prof. Maciej Buszewicz, presents a fragment of a Baczy雟ki's poem against the background of yellowed white and red insurgent bands. This poem ("Jeno wyjmij mi z tych oczu, szk這 bolesne - obraz dni, kt鏎e czaszki bia貫 toczy przez p這n帷e 陰ki krwi...") ("Only from my eyes take out this stabbing shard of glass - the days' image, by which white skulls are brought over meadows of blood ablaze...") [Johnson, Bill.Krzysztof Kamil Baczy雟ki - White Magic and Other Poems. Greek Integer. Los Angeles, 2005, p. 143] became a part of the lyrics of one of the most beautiful songs about the Uprising, i.e. "The war poems" by Ewa Demarczyk with music of Zygmunt Konieczny (1965). The stamp had 1000000 copies, typically for commemorative editions then.

          In October 1999 a stamp entitled "Tragedy of the Fighting Poland heroes", designed by Tomasz Bogus豉wski, was issued. The stamp shows a barbed wire twisted around the autumn Mazovian horizon - the plain with a row of willows. The stamp, valued 1 z這ty, was printed in the number of 400000 copies, in a form of a decorative pad exclusively.

          The Independence Day celebrated in the year 2001 was an occasion to print a series of sixteen stamps entitled "The Polish millennium", containing the whole variety of motifs from the Polish history, among the others: the Gniezno Door and the image of Robert Korzeniowski. A stamp "Battles for independence" shows the images of the attackers on Belweder on November 30, 1830, the seal of Marian Langiewicz - the January Uprising 1863 dictator, as well as the headpiece of a scripture of the Home Army Propaganda Department "Warsaw is fighting" and the scene of the Warsaw Uprising based on the photographs taken by Janusz Cegie陶o on August 20, 1944. All the stamps of the series cost 1 z這ty and were printed in the number of 850000 copies.

          In January 2009 in the series entitled "The extermination survivors", commemorating the former prisoners of the German concentration camps, there was also issued a stamp in the number of 400000 copies, valued 1,45 z這tych with the image of Cavalry captain Witold Pilecki a.k.a. "Witold", the company commander of the Home Army unit "Chrobry II".

          Finally, on August 1, 2009 a stamp was issued on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. The stamp, valued 3,75 z這tych, presents a photograph taken on August 28, 1944 by Sylwester Braun a.k.a. "Kris", the Field War Reporter of the Information and Propaganda Office of the Home Army Headquarters. This photograph caught a moment of Prudential, the highest building in the then Warsaw, having been hit with a two-tone-weight bullet from the Karl caliber 600 mm mortar, which made Prudential lay back. The photograph was taken from the roof of the 28 Kopernik street building, the seat of the workshop owned by "Kris". The author of the stamp project was Pawe Myszka, whereas the author of the drawing was Przemys豉w Krajewski. The stamp was issued in the number of 300000 copies, in a form of a decorative pad exclusively. In the year 2010 the stamp was a winner in the international contest of the Government Stamp Producers Association in Brasilia in the mixed techniques' category. inowanych.

          A FDC envelope presenting the insurgents leaning over a letter or an order was issued together with this stamp. Moreover, a postcard with a charge overprint, that shows the photographs of the everyday Uprising Warsaw, was printed.

          The years to come (2009-2014) made the Warsaw Uprising disappear from the mail stamps. Yet, in the year 2012, on February 14, the exact date of the 70th anniversary of the Home Army bringing to life, a stamp valued 1,55 z這tych, with 300000 copies, was issued. The stamp, designed by Marzanna D帳rowska, shows a graphically changed eagle of the Home Army, against the background of the Home Army soldiers waiting for an air drop. The project itself is nice but simultaneously it can be called the second lost chance (the first was the stamp issued on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Uprising) to propagate the original sign of the Home Army, i.e. the eagle of the Polish Army based on the year 1919, the one with the Fighting Poland anchor on its shield.

          On an FDC envelope the text of the Home Army oath was put. Here is the original version of the oath:
          "W obliczu Boga Wszechmog帷ego i Naj鈍i皻szej Marii Panny Kr鏊owej Korony Polskiej k豉d swe r璚e na ten 安i皻y Krzy, znak M瘯i i Zbawienia, i przysi璕am by wiernym Ojczy幡ie mej, Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, sta nieugi璚ie na stra篡 Jej honoru i o wyzwolenie Jej z niewoli walczy ze wszystkich si - a do ofiary mego 篡cia.
          Prezydentowi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej i rozkazom Naczelnego Wodza oraz wyznaczonemu przeze Dow鏚cy Armii Krajowej b璠 bezwzgl璠nie pos逝szny, a tajemnicy niez這mnie dochowam, cokolwiek by mnie spotka mia這.
          Tak mi dopom騜 B鏬."
          The words that were being uttered by a person who would take an oath follow,
          "Przyjmuj ci w szeregi 穎軟ierzy Armii Polskiej, walcz帷ej z wrogiem w konspiracji o wyzwolenie Ojczyzny. Twym obowi您kiem b璠zie walczy z broni w r瘯u. Zwyci瘰two b璠zie Twoj nagrod. Zdrada karana jest 鄉ierci.
          Tak Nam dopom騜 B鏬!"

          In the Third Polish Republic the characters whose biographies include activity in the Home Army and active participation in the Warsaw Uprising appear on stamps more and more often. In April 2013, the first death anniversary of Prof. Wies豉w Chrzanowski, the Lower House Speaker of the First term, a stamp valued 3,80 z這tych was issued. During the Warsaw Uprising Wies豉w Chrzanowski a.k.a. "Poraj" was a soldier of the second company "Genowefa" of the battalion "Harna". In October 2014, the 100th birth anniversary, there was issued a stamp valued 4,20 z這tych, commemorating Jan Nowak-Jeziora雟ki, the Home Army Headquarters war courier, who used to serve in the Sixth Department of the Home Army Headquarters during the Uprising. In May 2015, the 100th birth anniversary (the fact which was not printed on a stamp, but on a FDC envelope only) there was produced a stamp "如ieszmy si kocha ludzi" ("Let's hurry up to love people") valued 1,75 z這tych commemorating Fr. Jan Twardowski, who had been a soldier of the Third Home Army District "Walig鏎a" (Wola) during the Uprising. In November 2015 there was issued a stamp "Warto by przyzwoitym" ("It's worth being decent") valued 1,75 z這tych, commemorating W豉dys豉w Bartoszewski half a year after his death. He was the Home Army soldier a.k.a. "Teofil" in the Sixth Department of the Home Army Headquarters., upami皻niaj帷y w p馧 roku po 鄉ierci W豉dys豉wa Bartoszewskiego, w czasie Powstania 穎軟ierza AK ps. "Teofil" s逝膨cego w VI Oddziale (BiP) KG AK.



          In the series entitled "The People of cinema and theatre" a stamp was issued in October 2013, valued 1,60 z這tych, presenting an actress and dancer Helena Gross闚na, the Home Army lieutenant, a.k.a. "Bystra"; during the Warsaw Uprising she used to command the female unit of the Safety Corps battalion "Sok馧"; she was also a prisoner of Oberlangen. In October 2015 a stamp valued 1,75 z這tych was printed, with the image of an actor Jerzy Pichelski, who was the Home Army second-lieutenant a.k.a. "Pik" in the Fifth Region (Praga) of the Home Army Sixth District during the Uprising.


          The next round anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, i.e. August 1, 2014, gave us at last a stamp of the Uprising theme. It had a value of 5,20 z這tych, and 150000 copies. It was designed by Agnieszka Sancewicz. Similarly to the stamp with the image of Prudential, it was issued in a form of a decorative pad exclusively. There is a single picture from a film "The Warsaw Uprising", edited thanks to the coloured insurgent film chronicles. On its margin one can see a graphic sign of the Warsaw Uprising Museum - the producer of this film which had been first publicly shown before the stamp was issued, on May 9, 2014. This film frame shows Witold Kie簑n a.k.a. "Wypad", the soldier of the battalion "Harna", on the day when the St. Cross church and the police station in Krakowskie Przedmie軼ie had been captured (August 23, 1944). During this action "Wypad" solely took fourteen prisoners, and gained both weapons and ammunition.

          The above-mentioned stamp was issued together with a FDC envelope and a decorative seal.

          On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising the Polish Postal Service also prepared six so-called neo-cards which could be sent online or thanks to the application, while an addressee would get such a postcard in a traditional paper form.

written by: Maciej Bia貫cki

compiled by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz

translated by: Monika A豉sa

          Please note that the following websites were used by the author:, and
          The first version of the article was published in "Powstaniec Warszawski" ("A Warsaw insurgent"), the bulletin of the Warsaw Insurgents' Association.

Copyright © 2019 SPPW1944. All rights reserved.