Poland remembers the efforts of its North American emigre’s with a new proof silver coin

Poland loves its history, as tumultuous as it is, and the National Bank of Poland has issued an extensive selection of precious metal commemorative coins over the years celebrating it. Today sees the issuing of the latest sterling silver coin in the range and it’s one with a subject matter from the early 20th century. Millions of Poles moved to the US and Canada to escape the oppression at home as Poland had long been partitioned amongst its powerful neighbours, and WWI brought an opportunity for restitution. Polish Americans played a strong part, both in fighting for and financing the struggle for independance. The NBP always does a great description of the thinking behind its issues and we’ve reproduced it lower down.

The coin itself is typical of the NBP’s style and we mean that in a good way.The basis for the artwork on the coin is the Warsaw Memorial to the Military Effort of Polish Americans by the sculptor Andrzej Pityński. The obverse face depicts a Blue Army soldier waving a banner with the Polish eagle emblazoned upon it. The reverse face features a Blue Army cavalryman on horseback riding to attack. The eagle of the volunteers from America sits to the left of the horse. The elements on both sides are set in relatively clean backgrounds.

Struck in half a standard ounce of 0.925 silver to a proof finish, this Robert Kotowicz designed coin will have a mintage capped at 15,000 and come supplied in the usual NBP coin box with a certificate of authenticity. A nice piece in which collectors of military history coins will find much to like.

At the turn of the 20th century, when the Polish lands had long been divided into three partitions, the United States and Canada admitted consecutive groups of Polish emigrants who sought political freedom and better economic conditions in these countries.

The estimated population of the Polish ethnic community in the United States before WWI was three million people (including the third generation of immigrants). In Canada, the population of Polish immigrants was estimated at 60 thousand. As more immigrants arrived, Polish parishes, socio-political organisations and educational and cultural institutions were established there.

The activity of the Polish immigrants in America bore fruit during WWI. Thanks to the efforts of the National Department of the Polish Central Relief Committee, gathering the biggest Polish American organisations (the National Polish Association, the Polish Roman Catholic Union, the Polish Women’s Alliance of America and the Polish Falcons Alliance of America), the contemporary Polish American community proved its patriotism and dedication to its work for Poland. In 1917-1919, over 20 thousand Polish volunteers from the United States and Canada joined the ranks of the Polish Army in France, the so-called Blue Army, which existed from 4 June 1917 onwards.

A mobilisation on such a scale, led by Doctor Teofl Starzyński (President of the Polish Falcons Alliance of America), was unprecedented in the history of the Polish diaspora. The preparatory campaign lasted four months (June-September 1917), and the enlistment itself took 16 months (October 1917- -February 1919). The transport of the frst 1,200 volunteers trained in Canada set sail from New York to Bordeaux on 16 December 1917. A total of 20,720 recruits were deployed from America to France.

The steady inflow of volunteers from America permitted the subsequent formation of the Polish Army in France, as until December 1917 it had numbered a mere 820 soldiers. On 10 January 1918, the 1st Polish Rifle Regiment, 70 percent of which constituted volunteers from America, was formed. On 10 April 1918, the Polish troops in France numbered 204 ofcers and 10,638 rank-and-fle soldiers, which permitted the organization of one infantry division comprising cavalry, artillery, technical units, auxiliary troops and air force, from 10 August 1918 onwards.

The influx of volunteers from America and the rapid development of the Blue Army in 1918 politically strengthened the Polish National Committee operating in Paris, which was symbolically confrmed by the signatures of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Roman Dmowski afxed on the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.

During the warfare in France, on the Ukrainian front and in the Polish-Bolshevik war for Poland’s independence, On 12 April 2018, Narodowy Bank Polski is putting into circulation a silver coin “100th Anniversary of the Military Effort of Polish Americans” with a face value of 10 złoty. 1,832 volunteers from America were killed, and a further 2,011 were wounded.

It is worth noting that the volunteers from America deserve our historical gratitude not only for their sacrifce of health and life, but also for the fnancial aid received from Poles living there. Between 1914-1920 they contributed over USD 16 million (currently the equivalent of approx. USD 400 million) for the Polish cause, including the military.

Teofl Lachowicz

COMPOSITION 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 14.14 grams
DIAMETER 32.0 mm
MINTAGE 15,000
BOX / COA Yes / Yes