16th century Wrocław coat of arms uncovered in school assembly hall after found hidden behind plaster

Dating from the turn of the 20th century when the school was founded, the city’s coat of arms was in use from 1530 to 1938. UM Wrocław press materials

Wall art showing Wrocław’s coat of arms from the 16th century has been fully restored after it was found hidden behind plaster in a school assembly room.

Dating from the turn of the 20th century when the school was founded, the city’s coat of arms was in use from 1530 to 1938.

The several-metres-long coat of arms, though painted in the early 20th century, dated back to the 16th century and consists of five shields.UM Wrocław press materials

Hitler's governor of Lower Silesia at the time, Joseph Wagner, ordered that all the old coats of arms be replaced with a new two-field one.

Lying hidden behind plaster ever since, the coat of arms was discovered by builders during renovation work.

Although badly damaged, it was possible to restore it thanks to an archive photo and money allocated by the city council.

In the centre is a shield with the head of St John the Baptist. The four shields around it represent a lion in the upper left corner, an eagle to the right, the letter UM Wrocław press materials

Art restorer Ewa Kuśnierz-Zawadowska said: “The work was created at the time the school was built, at the beginning of the 20th century.

“As such, the painting is executed in the then very popular art deco style.”

The several-metres-long coat of arms, though painted in the early 20th century, dated back to the 16th century and consists of five shields.

Nazi governor of Lower Silesia Joseph Wagner ordered that all the old coats of arms be replaced with a new two-field one.Public domain

In the centre is a shield with the head of St John the Baptist. The four shields around it represent a lion in the upper left corner, an eagle to the right, the letter "W" for the name Wrastlaw, which gave the city its name, and the head of St John the Evangelist.

The original coat of arms was restored for a short time after World War II until 1948 during the period of flux when the city became part of Poland but before the Stalinist regime had taken a firm grip on the country.

Later, until 1990, a coat of arms depicting a two-headed eagle based on the medieval seal of a Wrocław alderman was in force.

Wrocław's coat of arms from 1938 to 1945. This was abolished after Wrocław became part of Poland in 1945.Public domain

The city council brought back the five-shield coat of arms on 19 June 1990, though with changes compared to the 16th-century version.

The coat of arms was discovered in the hall of Wrocław’s High School No. 1 on Poniatowskiego Street.

The school building was erected in 1907 based on the design of the German architect Charlot Cabanis and is the oldest public high school in Wrocław.

The coat of arms was discovered in the hall of Wrocław’s High School No. 1 on Poniatowskiego Street.Liceum Ogólnokształcące nr1 im. Danuty Siedzikówny INKI we Wrocławiu/Facebook

On 3 September 2016, the school was named after Home Army medic and anti-communist underground freedom fighter Danuta Siedzikówna, who was chosen by students in a referendum.

The assembly hall where the painted coat of arms was found has just been renovated at a cost of over PLN 500,000 with work being carried out on the wood panelling, the walls and the parquet flooring.

The discovery of the coat of arms is one of many traces of the pre-war city that can still be seen in the form of inscriptions and writing on walls, gateways and public buildings.

The assembly hall where the painted coat of arms was found has just been renovated at a cost of over PLN 500,000 with work being carried out on the wood panelling, the walls and the parquet flooring.UM Wrocław press materials

Though these signs were covered up quickly after the war during the Polonisation of the city, many remained and are still being discovered.

Local activists wanted to preserve these signs in Wrocław and other cities in Lower Silesia and produced a map as part of the project “Looking at Breslau from Under the Plaster”.

More details about the project can be found at www.thefirstnews.com/article/fascinating-new-map-of-pre-war-wroclaw-uncovers-long-forgotten-german-signs-15077.