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Poland 2008 Siberian Exiles Sybiracy 2 Zlote Nordic Gold Proof-Like BU

Price: $4.95

Product Description

Remember Poland's "lost generations" of deportees on this poignant, historic coin!

This important coin commemorates the Sybiracy, the lost generations of Poles who were imprisoned in Siberia. Exact numbers will never be determined, but at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of Poles were exiled by the Russians over a period exceeding two centuries.

Two leitmotifs are depicted on, and serve to link together, all three coins in this series. The first is the boreal forest, the endless miles of woodlands that cover vast stretches of Russia. This was the huge, forbidding and inhospitable land into which the Polish deportees found themselves thrown. Each coin also features outlines and silhouettes of anonymous human figures. This second motif represents the nameless masses of Polish nationals who were exiled to the frozen wastes of Siberia, sentenced to the back-breaking labor of katorga and the Gulags, never to return.

The painting Farewell to Europe by Polish artist Aleksander Sochaczewski

This painting above, entitled Farewell to Europe, by the by Polish artist Aleksander Sochaczewski (1843-1923), graphically portrays the poignant plight of the Sybiracy. Sochaczewski was a participant in the January Uprising of 1863 against the Russian Empire; as a result he was subsequently deported to Siberia. He is known for his paintings of the uprising, the Siberian katorga, and life in exile. The artist himself is among the exiled here, near the tower, on the right.

For more information on this moving and tragic subject, which is little-known in the West, please see the article lower in this presentation.

This historic, 3 coin program includes an extremely affordable 2 Zlote Nordic Gold coin, a very affordable and beautiful 10 Zlotych silver proof set with a zircon crystal gemstone, and a low-mintage 100 Zlotych gold proof. All three coins feature different but related designs.

Click here for all of the coins in the Siberian Exiles program!


A stark depiction of several anonymous human figures silhouetted against the vastness of the coniferous taiga forest, which recedes into the distance. The legend SYBIRACY translates simply as "Siberian Exiles".

The crowned white eagle, the national emblem of Poland, with the year of issue, the denomination and the legend RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA ("Republic of Poland").

NBP (for "National Bank of Poland") is repeated eight times around the edge, each time rotated 180 degrees from the previous "NBP".

Country Poland
Year of Issue 2008
Issuing Authority National Bank of Poland
Face Value 2 Zl
Weight 8.15 g
Diameter 27.00 mm
Mintage Limit 1,500,000
Finish Proof-Like Brilliant Uncirculated
Composition Nordic Gold, a four-metal alloy composed of copper, aluminum, tin and zinc, that looks like real gold and does not tarnish
Edge Lettered. "NBP" (for “National Bank of Poland”) is repeated eight times around the edge, each time rotated 180 degrees from the previous “NBP”.

The Polish term sybirak (plural: sybiracy) is a colloquialism. It literally means “inhabitant of Siberia”, but culturally refers to the hundreds of thousands of Poles who were exiled to and imprisoned in Siberia over the centuries of Russian domination.

The painting Christmas Eve in Siberia by famous Polish artist Jacek MalcewskiThe story of the Siberian Exiles starts with the First Partition of Poland. Although Polish nationals had been sent to Siberia prior to this when captured as prisoners of war, including following the suppression of the Confederation of Bar (the first Polish uprising), Czarina Catherine II sent at least 5,000 Poles over the Urals after Russia absorbed Polish territory in 1772. This pattern continued following each successive uprising. For example, approximately 20,000 Poles were sent into Siberian exile following the failed January Uprising of 1863-1865.

Of course, if you send revolutionaries and freedom fighters into exile, you might expect them to try to throw off the shackles of oppression, no matter how far from home they might be. This is exactly what happened during the Baikal Insurrection  or Siberian Uprising. In June 1866 a group of about 700 Polish revolutionaries, calling themselves the “Siberian Legion of Free Poles”, attacked the Russian Army unit guarding them and defeated it. Although the insurgents  were quickly defeated themselves, they showed that even at the end of the world the Polish people had not lost their taste for freedom.

Subsequent generations of Poles, both disaffected nationalists, political prisoners, and common criminals, were also sent into exile. In 1910 it was estimated that over 50,000 Poles were imprisoned in Siberia. This number is large, but pales in comparison to those sent into exile after eastern Poland was overrun by the U.S.S.R. in 1939. It is believed that the Soviets sent over one million ethnic Poles as well as nationals of the three Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to the frozen wasteland. Under Stalin this deportation continued after the Second World War, with hundreds of thousands more, both dissidents and criminals, sent to the Gulags. Although it is impossible to know how many Poles were deported to deepest Siberia over the centuries, never to return, the Polish term “lost generations of the Polish nation” attests to the magnitude of the loss.

Click here for more great historical coins!

Katorga and the Gulags
Those sent into exile faced a harsh existence known as katorga. Katorga was the system in Czarist Russia of penal servitude, similar to prison farms. Prisoners were sent to remote camps in desolate, The painting Exiled Students in Siberia by famed Polish artist Jacek Malcewskiuninhabited areas of Siberia, where voluntary settlers were never sufficiently available, and forced to perform hard labor. Unlike concentration camps, katorga was an accepted part of the normal judicial system of Imperial Russia, but both share the same main features: confinement, simplified facilities (as opposed to the more elaborate security measures of true prisons), and forced labor, usually involving hard, unskilled or semi-skilled work. Katorga began in the 17th century, and was taken over by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution of 1917, eventually evolving into the Gulag labor camps made infamous during the Stalinist era.

Siberia is the vast region constituting almost all of Northern Asia, known for its remoteness, frigid climate, and sparse population. Currently Siberia represents the massive central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, having served in the same capacity previously for the Soviet Union from its beginning, and for the Russian Empire beginning in the 16th century. Geographically, it includes a large part of the Eurasian Steppe and extends eastward from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and the national borders of both Mongolia and China. Although it makes up about 77% of Russia's territory (13.1 million square kilometers), only 30% of Russia's population live in Siberia. Much of Siberia is covered by boreal forest or taiga, the seemingly endless tracts of coniferous woodlands.

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