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Would getting a PW tattoo be seen as disrespectful in Poland?

18 May 2014 #1
I'm not sure if this is in the right Forum. To start with I am not Polish. I'm English, and I don't have any family connection with Poland. I have friends in Poland. I am learning the language, and I visited the country last year and I loved it. But would a PW tattoo be seen as disrespectful by Polish people as I am not Polish? I am learning about the Warsaw Uprising as I am very interested in the topic. However. The main reason I want the Polska Walcząca tattoo is because I recently recovered for depression. And I want a reminder that I have fought it before and I survived despite many suicide attempts. 2 of my Polish friends said they are fine with me getting a PW tattoo. But what would most poles think? Sorry this is long winded. I won't get it as a tattoo of it would be seen as disrespectful. Thank you
Ozi Dan 26 | 569
19 May 2014 #2
G'day olbeho,

Sorry to hear about what you've gone through mate. Glad to hear you've beaten your demons.

Whilst I can't speak for anyone else here (I'm an Aussie of Polish descent, whose grandad fought and died in the Rising, and whose forebears served in the Polish military for several hundred years), I think your proposed tattoo sounds pretty cool, particularly given the meaning and intent behind it. Further, I don't think it would be disrespectful at all - indeed, the fact that you bothered to come here and ask this speaks of the fact that you are nothing but respectful of it.

You seem to know the meaning and history of the symbol, and I'm thinking good on you for showing an interest - who knows, it may foster discussion and even friendships to those who see it and understand the imagery. To your English mates who see it, you can use it as an opportunity to tell them about the AK and Free Poles in WW2.

If nothing else, the visual style of the image is I think very attractive, and somewhat redolent of Polish 'slogan art' of the time, particularly some of the military unit markings in WW2.

As an aside, and with respect, a number of Polish veterans who survived WW2 themselves suffered depression (some of whom I knew), suicidal ideation, suicide and alcoholism. Some of our members here have told quite touching stories of their personal ordeals.

All the best mate
Malbork83 - | 1
19 May 2014 #3
I really don't think that any Polish person (in or outside Poland) will find your decision to get that tattoo in any way objectionable or disrespectful. By showing that you have a good grasp of the history and meaning behind that symbol, the opposite is actually much more likely.

If it is something you want, then just go for it.

Take care and good luck

/ Kris
lunacy - | 73
19 May 2014 #4
It's not even slightly disrespectful and I second everything written above. As a Pole, I can say that I feel honoured knowing that someone can still find a great inspiration in our history, as it seems you learned a lot before choosing the Polska Walcząca symbol.

The ideology behind it, simplified, was to never give up and reach for the freedom, therefore as a person who struggles with chronical depression I understand your choice. Besides that, there were many foreigners fighting for Poland back then. I didn't find any good version in English, but here's my rough translation from an excerpt taken straight from the Warsaw Uprising Museum's site (I'm not a native English speaker so sorry in advance for any mistakes):

"Along with the Poles, numerous representatives of other nationalities were fighting in the Warsaw Uprising. From the very first hours of the fight, in pursuance of the slogan "for our freedom and yours", they joined the Polish units. Among them, there were foreigners living in Warsaw before the war, soldiers escaped from POW camps, refugees from the forced labour in the Reich, as well as deserters from the German and Red armies. The most numerous among foreigners were Slovaks, Hungarians and French volunteers. There were also a few Belgian, Dutch, Greek, British and Italian people, one Romanian and one Australian."

There was even a Nigerian man (who was working as a jazzman in Warsaw before the outbreak of the war) participating in the Uprising, of a nickname Ali.

The point is, you don't have to be Polish to fight for Poland nor to embrace the meaning behind PW sign.
Bieganski 17 | 896
20 May 2014 #5
Of course no one can stop the OP from going ahead and getting the PW symbol for a tattoo. The OP may also find some Poles and numerous non-Poles who don't see any problem with it being used by anybody for whatever reason. Sure they may recognize the PW and know a little bit about its history but they have no personal connection to it so it doesn't matter to them who uses it.

However, Polish veterans are very sensitive about it being inappropriately used by other persons and organizations.

Indeed, the Veterans of the Warsaw Rising have sought to patent the symbol:

Veteran Andrzej Gladkowski, vice chairman of the Association of Warsaw Insurgents, told Polish Radio that the emblem is being used for inappropriate purposes.


The reason cited by the OP for getting this particular symbol has nothing to do with honoring an ancestor who fought in the resistance movement. It also has nothing to do with any direct involvement or support for Polish wartime veterans.

Rather the motive is just a personal one which is completely unrelated to the service and sacrifice of those Polish veterans who fought to liberate Poland from the Nazis.

The OP stated:

The main reason I want the Polska Walcząca tattoo is because I recently recovered for depression. And I want a reminder that I have fought it before and I survived despite many suicide attempts.

It's fair to say that tattoos are used as conversation pieces. Obviously the OP wants the tattoo to draw attention to himself and in turn raise awareness regarding his serious medical illness which he feels he has currently recovered from. However, there are more appropriate ways to go about this.

For example, the OP can get a tattoo of an "awareness ribbon" which is used by support groups for such issues like depression and suicide prevention.

Here is a list:

Better still the OP can volunteer his time and/or donate the money he would spend on a tattoo and give it to a local charity which helps people like him who also suffer from such problems.
24 Jun 2016 #6
Not really, I bet I could get one now and my family wouldn't mind.
John3 - | 1
20 May 2017 #7
I have Fr. Max Kolbe's Auschwitz number tattoed on my arm to remember that heroism in adversity is the highest human calling. He is sainted by the Roman Church. I've never been disrespected when Asked and I share ehat it means to me.

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