The National Bank of Poland has released new silver Proof coins which mark a very important national anniversary which emphasises the re-establishment of democracy in 1991. This year marks 30 years since the last former Soviet or Russian troops left Polish soil, ending a military presence lasting nearly 50 years. As a consequence to the end of the Second World War, the former Soviet Union deployed tens of thousands of Red Army troops of the so-called Northern Group of Forces. Their units were deployed in over 70 localities, mostly in western and northern Poland, with the Northern Group command headquartered in the city of Legnica. Their presence altered Poland’s ability to preserve democracy and by the middle half of 1944, Poland’s Second Republic, founded in 1918, had been transformed into the People’s Republic of Poland, governed by communist rule led by factions allied to the Soviet Union. Poland was now firmly part of the Eastern bloc in Europe and behind what Winston Churchill had described as the “Iron Curtain” during his speech delivered in March 1946 at Westminster College, London. Prior to the 1956 general agreement between the Polish People’s Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the latter’s military presence in Poland had not been legally regulated. After specific arrangements were agreed to that year, the number of Soviet military personnel was set between 62,000-66,000 troops, including 40,000 ground troops, 17,000 airmen, and 7,000 troops in the navy. It is estimated that during the almost 50-year presence of Soviet troops, related traffic accidents, and accidental and/or intentional shootings claimed the lives of over 600 Polish citizens.
As protests eventually broke out in many cities across the country, they showed the ferocity and opposition many Poles felt about the still-occupying Soviet forces remaining in the country. An organised protest took place in Krakow from the 16th to the 18th May 1989, during which time thousands of young people chanted “Sowieci do Domu!” on the Main Square. Prior to the restoration of democracy in 1989, Poles caught writing or carrying a slogan such as the one unfurled in Krakow’s central square would have faced many years behind bars. It wasn’t until after the collapse of the Eastern-bloc communist alliance in 1989 and the ultimate end of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the first military units began leaving Poland beginning in April 1991. Over a year later, a protocol regulating property, financial, and other matters related to the withdrawal of the Russian Federation troops from the territory of Poland was signed on the 22nd May 1991. Under this protocol, the Russian Federation had withdrawn all combat forces by October 1992, with the last units leaving Poland on the 17th September 1993. This date was specially chosen by the Polish government as it has particular importance to the Polish nation. It was on that day in 1939 that Red Army troops invaded Poland from the east while soldiers from the Third Reich invaded Poland from their western border days earlier. The entire process of transporting the remaining troops became a huge logistics operation involving the evacuation of over 1,500 tanks and combat vehicles, which were mostly carried out by rail, all having departed by the date agreed.
The silver Proof coins are produced by the Mint of Poland at their facilities in Warsaw on behalf of the National Bank and designed by Grzegorz Pfeifer. The obverse of the coin re-creates the slogan SOWIECI DO DOMU! (“Soviets go Home”) inspired by a photo of the 1989 demonstration in Krakow and an image of a hand that, in a symbolic way, orders the Soviet army to leave Poland. Above the primary design is the commemorative date 17 IX 1993, along with the inscription encircling the design, which reads 30. ROCZNICA WYCOFANIA WOJSK SOWIECKICH Z POLSKI (“30th Anniversary of the Withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Poland”). The reverse side features Poland’s national symbol, the crowned eagle, which is centred. Above is the text RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA 2023, and below is the denomination 10 ZŁ.
|14.1 g||32 mm||Proof||
Available from the 14th September, each silver Proof quality coin is encapsulated and presented in a heavy-gauge lined card case, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. For additional information about these coins and others issued by the National Bank of Poland, please visit their retail website.