Two tons of silverware given by Poles as a war chest to help the country defend itself in the event of a conflict with Nazi Germany have been donated to the National Museum in Poznań.
The silver was part of the National Defence Fund, which was set up by President Mościcki in April 1936 to raise additional funds by way of contributions for the rearmament of the army in the face of the threat to the Polish state by Nazi Germany.
Poles contributed their personal silver, cash, real estate, grain, slaughterhouse animals, and unpaid labour for the army to the fund.
The fund grew to one billion zlotys at the time, of which individual donations amounted to 38 million zlotys.
In September 1939, after the German invasion of Poland, crates of unused donations were evacuated to the Polish embassy in Bucharest, where they were divided into a ‘silver’ and a ‘gold’ part.
Nine chests containing 210 kg of gold from the main shipment made their way to Khartoum, Sudan, where they were left with a Polish hotel owner who worked with Polish intelligence.
This gold survived the war and was transferred at the end of 1944 to the Polish Armed Forces in the West headquarters in London.
The director of the National Museum in Poznań, Tomasz Łęcki, said that by the middle of the year, the precious silver will be displayed in museums across the country.
“When, a little over a year ago, I showed Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski the special safe hiding the FON’s treasures, the Culture Minister’s reaction was emphatic. He said, ‘this must be taken out of here immediately and shown to the Poles’”.