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Poland 2008 The Events of March 1968 Political Crisis 40th Anniversary 10 Zlotych Silver Proof

Price: $39.95

Product Description

Remember Poland's long road to freedom with this intricately engraved, historic coin!

This important coin depicts Polish students protesting in front of the main gates of the University of Warsaw in March, 1968. In the foreground of the scene, the communist military police, depicted in silhouette and armed with batons or truncheons, face off against the students, while above them flies the Polish national flag and incredibly detailed protest banners. The meticulousness of the engraving is such that the the individual slogans on the banners can be easily read with a loupe.

The main gates of the University of WarsawThe Polish 1968 Political Crisis (known in Poland as the Events of March 1968) describes major student and intellectual protests against the communist government of the People's Republic of Poland, their repression by state forces, and the concurrent Soviet anti-Zionist reaction. The student and intellectual protests coincided with and supported the events of the Prague Spring in neighboring Czechoslovakia.

This new program commemorates the 40th anniversary of this complex series of events, which are important both on Poland's long road to freedom and in the history of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Please see the article lower in this presentation for a full history of the Events of March 1968.

This historic two coin program includes an extremely affordable 2 Zlote Nordic Gold coin and a 10 Zlotych silver proof. Both coins feature different but related designs. Both coins are so meticulously engraved that the student protest banners can be read, and the 10 Zlotych silver proof in particular demonstrates great use of various finishes in the service of the overall design.

Click here for all of the coins in the Events of March 1968 program!

A frosted cameo depiction of the students protesting in front of the main gates of the University of Warsaw in March, 1968. In the foreground, the communist military police, depicted in silhouette and armed with batons or truncheons, face off against the students, while above them flies the Polish national flag. The slogans on the incredibly detailed protest banners can be read. The legend 40. ROCZNICA MARCA '68 translates as "The 40th Anniversary of the Events of March 1968".

An open book on top of a closed book, with pages being scattered by the wind. This image represents both the dissemination of the ideas of liberty and freedom by the Polish universities, as well as the dissolution of the student protests and freedom movement by the communist authorities. The crowned white eagle, the national emblem of Poland, with the year of issue, the denomination and the legend RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA ("Republic of Poland") also appear.

Country Poland
Year of Issue 2008
Issuing Authority National Bank of Poland
Face Value 10 Zl
Weight 14.14 g
Diameter 32.00 mm
Mintage Limit 118,000
Finish Proof
Composition .925 Fine (Sterling) Silver
Edge Plain
Packaging Encapsulated

The Origin of the Crisis
Across Eastern Europe, there were stirrings of freedom. An escalating wave of protest and dissent in Czechoslovakia (the "Prague Spring") was only the highpoint of a broader series of dissident social mobilization. The protests of workers within the communist ideology seemed to recall the 1956 protests in Poland. Numerous events of protest and revolt, especially among students, reverberated across Eastern Europe in 1968, with many following the March Polish Crisis.

Wladyslaw Gomulka, General Secretary of the Polish Communist Party GovernmentSince the 1956 anti-communist protests in Poland, the communist government of the Soviet-satellite People's Republic of Poland, under Wladyslaw Gomulka, had grown increasingly intolerant of criticism and destalinization. This hard-line policy brought it into conflict with the free-thinking and liberal tendencies of intellectuals and university students. In January 1968, the government banned the performance of a play by Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz, ("Forefather's Eve", written in 1824) at the Polish Theater in Warsaw, on the grounds that it contained Russophobic and "anti-socialist" references.

The Events of March 1968
The Warsaw Writers' Union condemned the ban on March 2, followed by the Actors' Union. Protests by university students followed. On 8 March 1968, students organized a rally on the Warsaw University campus in defense of their fellow students expelled for their role in the protests. The gathered participants, about 1,500 in number, were brutally clubbed with truncheons and scattered by workers from the so-called “factory defense” units and regular militia units.

Despite the brutality, the rally ushered in a wave of demonstrations held in solidarity with the Warsaw students at almost all Polish universities, including in Cracow, Lublin, Gliwice, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Poznan and Lodz. Students held street demonstrations and clashed with the militia in several cities. Further protests and civil unrest followed. Students saw an outlet to express their desire for democracy, freedom and the truth. One of the most popular slogans of the time was "The press tells lies." National coordination of the disturbances by the students was attempted through a March 25 meeting in Wroclaw; most of its attendees were jailed by the end of April. Over 2,700 people were arrested for participating.

Polish Students protestingThe student-led demonstrations gave Gomulka's communist government an excuse to channel public anti-government sentiment into another avenue. The government used the situation as a pretext to launch an anti-Semitic press campaign (although the expression "Zionist" was officially used). The state-sponsored "anti-Zionist" campaign resulted in the removal of Jews from the Polish United Worker's Party and from teaching positions in schools and universities. Due to economic, political and police pressure, most Polish Jews were forced to emigrate between 1968 and 1973. The campaign, though ostensibly directed at Jews who had held office in the Stalinist era and at their families, affected most of the remaining Polish Jews, whatever their backgrounds.

In Czechoslovakia, meanwhile, events took a similarly dark turn. When negotiations with the Czech freedom movement proved unsatisfactory, the Soviets ordered a military alternative. The Soviet Union's policy of compelling the socialist governments of its Warsaw Pact satellite states to subordinate their individual national interests to those of the U.S.S.R.-led alliance (including through military force, if need be) was known as the Brezhnev Doctrine. On the night of August 20-21, 1968, the Soviets invoked the Brezhnev Doctrine and Eastern Bloc armies from five Warsaw Pact countries (including, unfortunately, Poland) invaded Czechoslovakia. That evening, 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 2,000 tanks occupied the country, bringing an immediate end to the Prague Spring. A total of 72 Czechs and Slovaks were killed during this operation, and the reputation of the People's Republic of Poland received another damning blow in the eyes of the West.

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The Events of March 1968 damaged Poland's reputation abroad, particularly in the United States. Gomulka instituted severe censorship on the press and extreme repression of the intelligentsia and students. Jews in Poland were also severely affected. Before the anti-Zionist campaign, 40,000 Jews remained in Poland following the Holocaust (an estimated 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland prior to World War II). By 1972, fewer than 5,000 Jews chose to stay in Poland; the rest had emigrated, most under pressure from the communist government.

Despite worldwide condemnation, for many years the Communist government did not admit the anti-Semitic nature of the anti-Zionist campaign, though some newspapers were allowed to publish critical articles. Finally, in 1988, the Polish Communist government officially acknowledged that the events were anti-Semitic, although it avoided taking full responsibility, calling them "political mistakes". After the fall of the Communist government, the Polish Sejm (lower house of Parliament) issued an official condemnation of the anti-Semitism of the Events of March 1968.

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