Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Bank of Poland Issue Commemorative Silver Coin for First Anniversary of Smolensk Plane Crash

The Mint of Poland (Mennica Polska), in conjunction with the National Bank of Poland, has issued a series of commemorative coins to mark the first anniversary of the Smolensk plane crash and the souls lost that day.

Poland 2011 20Zl Victims of the Smolensk Plane Crash Silver Proof

On April 10, 2010, while on route to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre - a mass murder of Polish intellectuals, politicians, and military officers carried out by Soviet secret police - Polish Air Force aircraft Tupolev Tu-154M crashed near the city of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board. These included the Polish president Lech Kaczyński and his wife, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Poland's deputy foreign minister, Polish government officials, 12 members of the Polish parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy, and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre.

The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre, was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the Soviet secret police NKVD in April–May 1940. It was based on Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. This official document was then approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000, the most commonly cited number being 21,768.

In Poland, the public reacted with shock and grief to the Smolensk Plane Crash on April 10, 2010. Almost immediately after the news broke, tens of thousands of Poles assembled at the Presidential Palace to lay tributes, including flowers, wreaths, and candles. A week of national mourning was declared in Poland. Poles around the world mourned Kaczyński and set up shrines in the week that followed. Flags flew at half mast in Poland. Sports fixtures, including women's U-17 UEFA Championship elite qualifying phase game Poland versus Republic of Ireland in Ukraine, were postponed.

One year later the National Bank of Poland has issued a series of commemorative coins to mark the anniversary of this tragic event. These include a 100 Zloty Gold coin featuring images of the Polish President, Lech Kaczyński, and his wife, a 20 Zloty Silver coin showing the portrait of National Bank of Poland President Sławomir Skrzypek, another 20 Zloty Silver coin with an image of the Polish Air Force jet, and a 2 Zloty Nordic Gold coin showing tree boughs.

Euro Collections International is able to offer collectors the 20 Zloty Silver coin featuring an image of the Air Force jet that crashed in the woods near Smolensk. Struck from 28.28 grams of 92.5% sterling silver on a 38.61mm flan, the coin shows the solemn image of the plane with a damaged wing against a background of tree boughs. On the obverse is the image of a broken tree truck and tree fragments. Each silver coin is encapsulated and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity confirming the world-wide mintage of 50,000.

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