Project Description

THE ENDURING SOLDIERS by National Bank of Poland

Not being afraid to produce long running coin series, the excellent Stanislaw August and History of Polish Coin series being evidence of that, the National Bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski NBP) has embarked on another epic set of silver coins. With tensions higher than normal between Poland and Russia over the Ukrainian conflict, it seems that they felt it was time for a reminder of why there exists such distrust between the two countries on many levels.

This series celebrates and remembers some of the brave individuals that fought the Soviet Communists after the Second World War. The first coin will be a general remembrance, while following ones will look at some of the most famous participants in the resistance. We’re not going to go into detail here as the NBP has done a terrific job with its release information and you can read more about each coin below by clicking the MORE button. Suffice to say it’s a fine theme, well deserving of the permanence that numismatics often bring.

Each coin will be struck in half-ounce of sterling silver and have a small band of colour on the reverse face, something the NBP doesn’t do very often. Coins to date have been designed by Dobrochna Surajewska and/or Urszula Walerzak, and struck by the Mint of Poland, the mint that strikes Polish commemorative coins. These aren’t fancy coins, devoid of all the current trends permeating the precious metal commemoratives market and they’re all the better for it. Sometimes the subject of the coin should take precedence and we think that’s the case here.

It appears there will be 22 coins in the set, with two or three being released annually. That would indicate that the series would potentially be split over 4-5 years, not too long with current trends. It’s good to see traditional coin styles still being put out there and we’d imagine the theme would resonate strongly in todays Poland. The coins sell for around the 160 Zloty mark (€38 / $40 / £32). A noble series and one that Poles in particular would do well to look at.

2017 The Enduring Soldiers Accursed by the Communists

The name “Enduring Soldiers” or “Cursed Soldiers” is used to refer to the post-war Polish independence and anti-Communist underground movement. Even though World War II had formally ended, as many as 200,000 soldiers of the Second Polish Republic continued to fight for a free Poland. The struggle against the Soviets and their Polish collaborators went on for the next 10 years, i.e. until the mid-1950s. Between 1945-1947 the guerrillas were ofen the sole masters of the territory. Their principal goal was to defend Poles against Soviet terror – plundering, rape and murder.

The soldiers belonged to various formations of the armed underground movement – Freedom and Independence (Zrzeszenie “Wolność i Niezawisłość”), National Armed Forces (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne), National Military Union (Narodowe Zjednoczenie Wojskowe), Underground Polish Army (Konspiracyjne Wojsko Polskie), Resistance Movement of the Home Army (Ruch Oporu Armii Krajowej), the 5th and 6th Vilnius Brigade of the Home Army, Józef Kuraś “Błyskawica” Group and many others, including youth organizations.

2017 Danuta Siedzikówna ‘Inka’

The daughter of Wacław Siedzik, a forest ranger, and Eugenia Tymińska. During the Second World War she lost both parents. She grew up in the cult of the January Uprising of 1863, in which her ancestors had taken part. She joined the Polish Home Army in December 1943, and took on a pseudonym “Inka” (in remembrance of a school friend). In October 1944, she started working as a clerk in the forest district office of Narewka.

Along with all other employees, she was arrested by an NKVD (Soviet secret police agency) and UB (Polish secret police under Communism) group in June 1945 on the charge of collaboration with “bands of reactionary underground movement”. Released by one of patrols of the 5th Wileńska Brigade of the Polish Home Army, commanded by Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz alias Łupaszka. Aferwards she could continue as a clerk in the Miłomłyn forest district office but she chose to fght for Poland, by joining, as an orderly, the squadron of Major Zdzisław Badocha alias Żelazny.

2017 Witold Pilecki ‘Witold’

Witold Pilecki was born in an aristocratic family (coat of arms of Leliwa) in Olonets in Karelia on 13 May 1901. During his youth he was active in the Scout movement. In the years 1918-1921 he served in the Polish Army. He fought in the Polish-Soviet War and was twice awarded with the Cross of Valour. In the newly independent Poland he managed the Sukurcze estate near Lida (today in Belarus) which was recovered by the Pilecki family.

At the initiative of Marshal Edward Śmigły-Rydz, Pilecki began to cooperate with the Polish counterintelligence, known as the “second department”. He fought in the Polish defensive war in September 1939, after which he co-organized one of the frst anti German resistance groups: the Secret Polish Army, which joined the Home Army. On 19 September 1940 he voluntarily went to the Auschwitz death camp on behalf of the Secret Polish Army. The goal of his mission was to gather intelligence on the ground and establish a conspiracy self-help and armed resistance movement among the prisoners (Military Organization Union), which was supposed to liberate the camp with help from outside.

2017 Feliks Selmanowicz ‘Zagończyk’

Born on 6 June 1904 in Vilnius. He had completed 5 grades of middle school before the outbreak of WWI. In September 1918, he volunteered to the Vilnius Vigilante Organization, and later to the 1st Battalion of Neman River Rifles with which he fought in the Polish-Soviet War. He subsequently worked for the People’s Militia in the Neutral Zone – an area under international control afer fghting between Lithuania and Poland was over. In free Poland he worked as a civil servant and ran a farm. He was probably associated with Polish as well as French military intelligence.

In August 1939, he was mobilized to the Border Security Corps as a sergeant. He took part in the fghting against the Red Army on 17 September 1939. Afer being interned by the Lithuanian authorities, he managed to escape from the camp in November and returned to Vilnius, where he became involved in the Polish conspiracy movement. In January 1940, he was arrested by the Lithuanian police, but was released because no evidence was found to prove his guilt. When the Soviets marched into the town, he was arrested once again, handed over to the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), and condemned to death for espionage. However, the death sentence was not executed since he fled from the transport afer the German troops entered Vilnius.

From January 1944 he fought in the Vilnius Brigades of the Home Army: the 3rd Brigade of Col. Gracjan Fróg alias Szczerbiec, the 5th Brigade of Mjr Zygmunt Szendzielarz alias Łupaszka (deputy platoon commander), and the 4th Brigade of 2LT Longin Wojciechowski alias Ronin (company commander). Promoted to second lieutenant, wounded twice, he received the Cross of Valour.

In July 1944, following the disarmament of his troop by the Soviets, he was interned in Kaluga. In April 1945, he managed to escape and return to Vilnius, from where he was repatriated to Poland six months later. At the end of 1945 and the beginning of 1946, he established contact with Major Szendzielarz, who was reassembling the 5th Vilnius Brigade of the Home Army in Pomerania. He took command of a 5-strong independent combat and diversionary patrol of the Gdańsk and Olsztyn region, whose task was to obtain funds for organisational activity and to conduct propaganda campaigns.

He was arrested on 8 July 1946 in a conspirators’ flat in Sopot; three Security Ofce (UB) functionaries were said to have been killed during his attempted escape. He was then transported to a remand centre in Gdańsk and subjected to a brutal interrogation. He made a failed escape attempt. On 17 August the District Military Court in Gdańsk sentenced Second Lieutenant Selmanowicz to death. He was murdered on 28 August 1946 at 6.15 am in the cellar of the Gdańsk prison in Kurkowa Street, together with Danuta Siedzikówna alias Inka, a medic of the 5th Vilnius Brigade of the Home Army. Both of them cried “Long live Poland!” before their death.

The Provincial Court in Gdańsk cancelled the death sentence in 1997. In 2014, the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) found the remains of Feliks Selmanowicz hidden by the communists under paving slabs at the Garrison Cemetery in Gdańsk. On 28 August 2016, a ceremonial state funeral of Zagończyk and Inka was held there to mark the 70th anniversary of the death sentence. President Andrzej Duda posthumously promoted Second Lieutenant Selmanowicz to lieutenant colonel.

Tadeusz Płużański

2017 Henryk Glapiński ‘Klinga’

Henryk Glapiński was born on 28 December 1915 in Częstochowa. In 1937, he graduated from the Feliks Fabiani Gymnasium in Radomsko. He was a member of the Gymnastic Society “Sokół”. In the years 1937–1939, he served in the military, initially at the military academy of the 27th Infantry Regiment in Częstochowa, and from 1938 in Komorów. Before the outbreak of World War II, he was transferred to the 77th Infantry Regiment in Lida.

In September 1939, he was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. From October 1939 to May 1940, he was in Lwów and then returned to Radomsko. At the turn of 1941 and 1942, he joined the Home Army and became a platoon commander. In the second half of 1942, Glapiński was appointed as the head of the Home Army “Centre No. 1” for the town of Radomsko, and at the end of June 1944, as the deputy commander of the local Home Army

He was arrested by the Gestapo in July 1944 and was deported to the German concentration camp Gross-Rosen. He returned to Radomsko in May 1945. He did not accept the Soviet occupation of Poland as liberation. In February 1946, he joined one of the largest anti-communist organizations – the Underground Polish Army (code names “Lasy”, “Bory”) – assuming the nom de guerre “Klinga”. At the beginning of March 1946, he was appointed as the head of the District Command of the Underground Polish Army, code name “Motor” (district of Radomsko), and in mid-March 1946 – the chief commander of the Underground Polish Army Stanisław Sojczyński “Warszyc” appointed him as his adjutant. In April, Glapiński became the commander of the partisan unit of the Society Protection Service “Motor”, operating in the districts of Częstochowa and Radomsko. He was responsible for special military operations. He conducted, among others, attacks on the outposts of the Citizens’ Militia in Silniczka and Kobiele Wielkie, capturing dozens of weapons from the occupiers.

On the night of 19 to 20 April 1946, his unit took part in an attack on Radomsko. While it failed to capture the headquarters of the communist Polish Workers’ Party and the secret police, the Polish soldiers achieved their main objective – they seized the local prison and liberated 57 Polish patriots who were detained and tortured there. During the retreat Glapiński’s unit stopped a vehicle of the pro-Soviet Internal Security Corps, and confscated 358 sets of uniforms and military equipment. On 20 April, the soldiers of the Underground Polish Army won a battle with the much more numerous Communist forces that were chasing them.

In mid-May 1946, pursuant to an order of Stanisław Sojczyński, he re-established the partisan unit of the Society Protection Service (consisting of 30 persons), which received a new code name – “Warszawa”. From that point on, Glapiński was pursued by Communist henchmen and had to escape increasingly frequent raids. On 8 June 1946, his unit fought a battle near the village of Kamieńsk. On 16 June, “Warszyc” promoted him to the rank of Captain.

He was arrested through the use of deception. An agent of the Communist secret police posing as a liaison of General Władysław Anders offered to help Glapiński in the evacuation to the West. On 31 August 1946, he was arrested in Warsaw by the communist military counter-intelligence and was handed over to the Provincial Public Security Ofce in Łódź. He was sentenced to death on 17 December 1946 by the District Military Court in Łódź, an illegal tribunal established by the occupiers. According to ofcial data, he was murdered on 19 February 1947, together with Stanisław Sojczyński. The sentence was annulled in October 1992. The remains of Henryk Glapiński “Klinga” have not been found to this day

Tadeusz Płużański

2018 August Emil Fieldorf ‘Nil’

August Emil Fieldorf was born on 20 March 1895 in Kraków. He graduated from the men’s college of St. Nicholas and later from a men’s seminary there. In 1910, he joined the Sport and Gymnastic Society ”Strzelec” (Shooter), where he fnished the school for non-commissioned officers.

On 6 August 1914, Fieldorf volunteered to join the Polish Legions and set out for the Russian front, where he served as a deputy commander of an infantry platoon. In 1916, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and a year later he was sent to the officer training school. After the oath crisis, he was forced to join the Austro-Hungarian Army and transferred to the Italian front. He deserted and joined the Polish Military Organisation in his home city of Kraków in August 1918.

After the Republic of Poland regained independence, Fieldorf served in the Polish Army from November 1918, first as a platoon commander, and from March 1919 – as a commander of the heavy machine gun company in the Polish Legion’s First Infantry Regiment. In the years 1919-1920, he participated in the campaign of Vilnius and – as a company commander – in the Polish-Bolshevik War, when he participated in the liberation of Dyneburg and Żytomierz, the expedition to Kiev and the Battle of Białystok.

Afer the war, Fieldorf remained on active duty, was promoted to the rank of major and as such he was posted to the Polish Legion’s First Infantry Regiment as a battalion commander. In 1931, he became its second-in-command. In 1932, he became a lieutenant colonel. Three years later, Fieldorf was transferred to the position of a commander of the “Troki” independent battalion of the Border Guard Corps (KOP) in the KOP’s “Wilno” Regiment. In 1936, he was made the district commander of the Polish Riflemen’s Association in France.

In March 1938, Fieldorf became the commander of the 51st Giuseppe Garibaldi Riflemen’s Regiment in Brzeżany in the eastern fringes of Poland. He was with the regiment for the whole military campaign during the Polish Defensive War of 1939. Afer the battle of Iłża, he reached his native Kraków. He was stopped at the Slovak border during an attempt to get to the West to join the Polish Army under formation. He was interned, but managed to escape from a camp and reached France, where he later completed staff courses and was promoted to full colonel on 3 May 1940. Afer the capitulation of France and after the Polish authorities and the army moved to the United Kingdom, he was appointed the first emissary of the Government-in-Exile and Commander-in-Chief to Poland. On 17 July 1940, Fieldorf set out from London to Warsaw, which he reached on 6 September.

Fieldorf was active in the Union of Armed Struggle in Warsaw and later, from 1941, in Vilnius and Białystok. In 1942, he was appointed a commander of Kedyw (directorate of underground sabotage operations) of the High Command of the Home Army. It was on his order that the German SS General Franz Kutschera was assassinated in Warsaw.

In April 1944, Fieldorf started to form a highly secretive Niepodległość (NIE) organisation, which was designed to continue operations during the expected Soviet occupation of Poland. On the order of the Supreme Commander Kazimierz Sosnkowski of 28 September 1944, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. In October 1944, he became the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army under General Leopold Okulicki and kept the post till 19 January 1945 when the Home Army was disbanded.

On 7 March 1945, Fieldorf was arrested by the Soviet NKVD in the town of Milanówek under the false name of Walenty Gdanicki. Unrecognized as a general, ‘Nil’ was transferred from the NKVD headquarters in Włochy to a camp in Rembertów, and on 21 March 1945 he was sent to the labour camps of Bieriozovka, Stupino and Hudiakowo, in the Ural Mountains . After serving his sentence, he was released and returned to Poland in October 1947. Under his assumed name, he settled in Biała Podlaska, abandoning his underground activities. After moving between Warsaw and Kraków, he fnally settled in Łódź.

On 10 November 1950, he was arrested by the Regional Military Replenishment Unit in Łódź, transferred to Warsaw and placed under arrest in Rakowiecka Street. On 16 April 1952, he was sentenced to death as a ”fascist-Hitlerite criminal”. The sentence was carried out, by hanging, on 24 February 1953. In July 1958, the Prosecutor’s Office discontinued the investigation against General August Emil Fieldorf, citing lack of evidence of guilt. In March 1989, he was rehabilitated afer it was found that “he had not committed the crime he was accused of”. The remains of the hero have not been found until today

by Tadeusz Płużański

2018 Hieronim Dekutowski ‘Zapora’

Polish Army Major Hieronim Dekutowski was born on 24 September 1918 in Tarnobrzeg. Dekutowski was characterized by an active attitude of patriotic responsibility already in his youth. He belonged to the “Jan Henryk Dąbrowski” Scout Team and was a member of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He fought as a volunteer in the Polish defensive war of 1939, and on 17 September he crossed the border with Hungary, where he was interned. He escaped from the internment camp and fled to France, where he fought against the Germans as a member of the Polish Armed Forces. He was then evacuated to England. In March 1943 he was sworn in as a member of the so-called “Cichociemni” (the Silent Unseen) paratroopers. He adopted the pseudonyms “Zapora” and “Odra” (he mainly used the frst one, however).

On the night of 16-17 September 1943 Hieronim Dekutowski was sent to the “Garnek” 103 outpost in the vicinity of Wyszków, as part of the “Neon 1” operation during which members of the Silent Unseen paratroopers were parachuted into the Polish territory. The flight from England aboard the Halifax BB-378 “D”  aeroplane, which belonged to the RAF, lasted 12 hours and 30 minutes.

Dekutowski initially commanded the Home Army unit in the Zamość Inspectorate, defending the people of the Zamość region against forced expulsions. In January 1944 he became the head of the Home Army’s Directorate for Subversion (“Kedyw”) in the Inspectorate of Lublin – Puławy.

One of his fellow soldiers recalled him in the following way: “He soon gained the opinion of an outstanding commander. He was characterized by courage, swift  decision-making skills, and at the same time, caution and a great sense of responsibility for the people. He was thoroughly trained in the use of hand guns and machine guns. He was inconspicuous, but also had great personal charm. He knew how to be demanding and he maintained iron discipline in his units, but he also combined that with moderation and concern for each soldier, as a result of which he was held in high esteem by his subordinates. They referred to him as “the old man” even though he was not yet thirty.

Dekutowski’s unit consisted of two hundred men and carried out 83 combat operations and subversive activities. He took part in “Operation Tempest” (Akcja “Burza”) in the Lublin region, after which he unsuccessfully attempted to break through to the capital in order to help the  soldiers fighting in the Warsaw Uprising.

Dekutowski did not lay down his arms afer the Soviet forces entered Poland. In response to the communist terror, he created a post-Home Army self-defence unit, which consisted of about 200 men, just like during the German occupation. He conducted many courageous retaliatory actions against the Soviet Union’s NKVD, as well as the Department of Security (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa – UB), the Internal Security Corps (Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego – KBW) and the Citizens’ Militia (Milicja Obywatelska – MO). Because he was the most distinguished commander of the underground resistance, the majority of the Freedom and  Independence (Zrzeszenie Wolność i Niezawisłość) units in the Lublin region submitted to his leadership. He even sacrificed his private life to the struggle for national liberation. He told his beloved fiancée: “I’m going to the forests, I don’t know if I’ll make it out alive, we can’t be together”.

Dekutowski was arrested by the communist security services in September 1947 in Nysa, together with the commanders of his group’s subunits. The captured freedom fighters were transported to the detention centre at Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw and were subjected to brutal interrogation. On 15 November 1948 seven members of Dekutowski’s unit were sentenced to death by a communist court. Hieronim Dekutowski was murdered by a shot in the back of the head on 7  March 1949. His remains were only found and identifed in 2013.

For many years of the Polish People’s Republic, the communist authorities purposefully distorted his biography. The situation was different in the West, where in 1964 the legitimate Government of the Republic of Poland in exile posthumously awarded Major Hieronim Dekutowski “Zapora” with the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari. It was only in 1994 that the Warsaw Regional Court determined that Hieronim Dekutowski and his murdered soldiers were engaged in the struggle for the sovereignty of the Polish State.

by Tadeusz Płużański

2019 Stanisław Kasznica ‘Wasowski’

Stanisław Kasznica was born to a family of lawyers in Lvov on 25 July 1908. His father, Stanisław Wincenty Kasznica, a descendant of Antoni Trębicki, who was a deputy to the FourYear Sejm, was a Doctor of Law, a member of the National Democratic Party, and a senator of the Second Republic of Poland.

After his family moved to Poznań, where his father was appointed director of the University of Poznań, young Stanisław finished the local Karol Marcinkowski Lower Secondary School, and then graduated in law from the University of Poznań. During his studies, he became a member and one of the leaders of the AllPolish Youth. He was also a member of the student organisation “Brotherly Help”, the Academic Fraternity “Helionia” (as its president from 1938), as well as the Poznań Academic Aero Club. In 1934, he joined the National Radical Camp. As the party was declared illegal, he joined its clandestine multi-level leadership structure called the Polish Organisation.

He performed his military service in the Artillery Reserve Officer Cadet School in Włodzimierz Wołyński, and served as a lieutenant of the reserve in the 7th  Greater Poland Horse Artillery Division (DAK) in Poznań. Until the outbreak of the war, he worked at Ignacy Weinfeld’s law office in Warsaw and as a legal adviser in Gniezno.

In the defensive war of 1939, he was in command of a battery platoon in the 7th Horse Artillery Division, which wassubordinated to the Greater Poland Cavalry Brigade assigned to the “Poznań” Army. He fought in the battles of the Bzura,Laski, and Sieraków and defended Warsaw. For bravery in the battlefield, he was awarded the Virtuti Militari Grand Cross Order Class V.

After the September defeat, he focused on pro-independence activities in the clandestine Polish Organisation. In 1942, he participated in the establishment of a new military organisation – the National Armed Forces (NSZ). Its primary objective was to fight both the Germans and the Soviets, counteract the communist
influence, and establish Poland as a national-Catholic country after the war.

Stanisław Kasznica was among those who refused to accept integration with the Home Army. In July 1944, he was appointed Head of the 1st Section of the National Armed Forces Headquarters. Even though he opposed the launch of the Warsaw Uprising, he fought in the Ochota district. After the failure of the Warsaw Uprising, he conducted anti-communist activities in the fields of army, intelligence, politics, and among youth. In August 1945, he was appointed as acting chief commander of the National Armed forces. At the turn of 1945, along with part of the surviving staff, he joined the National Military Union. He was one of the Enduring Soldiers most wanted by the UB (Poland’s Department of Security) and the NKVD (the Soviet secret service agency) – a high reward was offered for his capture. How much the Soviets wanted to seize Kasznica is shown by the fact that reports on efforts to capture him were requested by Lawrientiy Beria, People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR.

The last chief commander of the National Armed Forces fell into the hands of the communists on 15 February 1947 in Zakopane, where he was staying with his family. The brutal interrogation in the prison at Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw was conducted for nearly a year. On 2 March 1948, he received four death sentences.
He was murdered on 12 May 1948.

In 1992, thanks to the efforts of his family, the sentence was overturned. Pursuant to the decision made by Lech Kaczyński, President of the Republic of Poland, on 20 August 2009, Stanisław Kasznica was posthumously awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for his outstanding contribution to the independence of the Republic of Poland. His remains were exhumed in 2012 and transferred to “Łączka” (“The Meadow”) in the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw.

by Tadeusz Płużański

SPECIFICATION & PACKAGING

Each coin comes packed in a grey coin box which are small and neat. They hold a certificate of authenticity. As yet, we’ve seen or heard nothing regarding a box to hold the whole set but the mint did produce one for the Stanislaw August series, so there may yet be one to come. Each coin has a mintage of 15,000 pieces.

NAME ENDURING SOLDIERS
MINT Mint of Poland
DENOMINATION 10 ZLOTY
COMPOSITION 0.925 sterling silver
WEIGHT 14.14 grams (0.5 std oz)
DIAMETER 32.0 mm
FINISH Proof
MODIFICATIONS Highlight coloured
MINTAGE 15,000 per design
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
NARODOWY BANK POLSKI