NBP will commemorate the Poles rescuing the Jews on new occasional coins
On Thursday, 15 March 2012, the National Bank of Poland is putting into circulation coins commemorating the Poles rescuing the Jews – the families of Ulma, Kowalski and Baranek: silver coin with the face value of 20 zł, struck in silver, and 2 zł, struck in Nordic Gold. Prior to that, in 2009 the bank commemorated Irena Sendlerowa, Zofia Kossak and sister Matylda Getter in the same occasional coin series.
The tragic fate of the families of Ulma, Kowalski and Baranek illustrates the terrible price that the Poles often paid for courage and heroism shown while extending help to the Jews persecuted at the times of the Holocaust. It was thanks to such people that approximately 30-40 thousand Jews survived the Nazi occupation of Poland. Documents show that in 1942-1945 approximately 700 Poles were murdered for helping the Jews, and in at least 40 cases this “collective guilt” was attributed to whole families: adults and children alike. Their fate was shared also by the families of Ulma, Kowalski and Baranek, who are now commemorated on the NBP occasional coins. The coins will help preserve the memory of these heroic people.
The main graphic motif depicted on the silver 20 zł coin is a cottage seen through a crack in the stylised planks. On one of the planks there are names of the villages: Ciepielów, Siedliska and Markowa, along with the dates of executions carried out there by the Nazis. The reverse depicts a group of Poles who had tried to rescue the Jews, with the names of the families inscribed on a plank: the families of Ulma, Kowalski and Baranek. A German machine gun is pointed at the defenseless people. The reverse of the 2 zł coin features a woman with a child in her arms.
The National Bank of Poland will issue 40 thousand silver coins and 800 thousand 2 zł coins struck in Nordic Gold. The images depicted on the coins were designed by Grzegorz Pfeifer, and the traditional obverse of the 2 zł coin – by Ewa Tyc-Karpińska.
The coins will be put into circulation on 15 March 2012. As of this date 2 złoty coins may be obtained at par value at the NBP regional branches. The silver coins have been sold at an auction in the Kolekcjoner service at the price of 175 złoty per coin. They will be soon offered for sale at this price at the NBP regional branches and in the Kolekcjoner online shop.
More information on auctions, including images and descriptions of collector coins, can be found at the online service website www.kolekcjoner.nbp.pl (under the Auctions tab) and www.NBP.pl website (under the Banknotes and coins tab) at the following address:
All coins issued by the NBP, including collector items, are legal tender in Poland.
Please have a look at the historical annex below.
Jerzy Halbersztadt, former Director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, President of the Partnership in Culture Foundation:
- The Kowalski family from Ciepielów near Radom
In the autumn of 1942, Adam and Bronisława Kowalski sheltered two Jewish neighbours, Elka Cukier and Berek Pineches, in their house. On 6 December 1942, German military policemen, informed by the local Volksdeutsche, surrounded the suspected houses. Members of the Kowalski family (besides the parents, children aged 1 to 16: Tadeusz, Henryk, Stefan, Zofia and Janina) were burnt alive in a wooden house belonging to the Obuchiewicz family, together with their neighbours and the hiding Jews. On the whole, 31 Poles and an unknown number of Jews were murdered in Ciepielów on that day.
- The Baranek family from Siedliska near Miechów
On 15 March 1943, during a house search carried out by Sonderdienst (German auxiliary police) in the house of Wincenty and Łucja Baranek, two hideouts were discovered with four Jews, most likely from the Goldfinger family. The Jews were immediately killed, after which Wincenty and Łucja Baranek, along with their sons (9-year-old Tadeusz and 13-year-old Henryk), were also murdered with a shot to the back of their heads. The Germans ordered the villagers, under the threat of a massive repression, to bring Łucja’s then absent mother, Katarzyna Kopeć, to Miechów the next day. That is where she was shot.
- The Ulma family from Markowa near Łańcut
Józef Ulma and his wife Wiktoria sheltered 8 Jews from the Schall and Goldman families in the attic of their house for 18 months. On 24 March 1944, upon denunciation by a local policeman from the Polish auxiliary force, all the members of the Ulma family (including six children aged eighteen months to eight years: Władysław, Stanisława, Marian, Franciszek, Barbara, Antoni) were shot to death on the spot, along with the Jews they had been hiding. In 1995, Wiktoria i Józef were posthumously awarded the medal “Righteous among the Nations” by the Yad Vashem Institute in Israel. Since 2003, a beatification process for the whole family has been in progress in the Catholic Church.
- In line with article 5 of the Führer’s decree of 12 October 1939, Governor Hans Frank issued, on 15 October 1941, an ordinance imposing a death penalty on the Poles who would attempt to provide shelter to Jews, transport them, give or sell them food, fail to report their hideouts, offer them a piece of bread or a glass of water, etc. The death sentence was usually carried out by shooting or hanging. Another form of punishment involved burning down the houses where Jews were hiding, with the host family inside, including children as well as their guests and belongings.
- Most Poles who helped Jews survived the war and the Nazi persecutions. At present, they remain in touch with the Jewish families they had helped, visiting them in Israel, the United States and other countries or even settling down in Israel at the invitation of families who have long been established there. In the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem, many Polish names feature on the plaques commemorating those who saved Jews.