Topics of coins
100th Anniversary of the Military Effort of Polish Americans
At the turn of the 20th century, when the Polish
lands had long been divided into three partitions,
the United States and Canada admitted consecutive
groups of Polish emigrants who sought political
freedom and better economic conditions in these
The estimated population of the Polish ethnic community in the United States before WWI was three million people (including the third generation of immigrants). In Canada, the population of Polish immigrants was estimated at 60 thousand. As more immigrants arrived, Polish parishes, socio-political organisations and educational and cultural institutions were established there.
The activity of the Polish immigrants in America bore fruit during WWI. Thanks to the efforts of the National Department of the Polish Central Relief Committee, gathering the biggest Polish American organisations (the National Polish Association, the Polish Roman Catholic Union, the Polish Women’s Alliance of America and the Polish Falcons Alliance of America), the contemporary Polish American community proved its patriotism and dedication to its work for Poland. In 1917-1919, over 20 thousand Polish volunteers from the United States and Canada joined the ranks of the Polish Army in France, the so-called Blue Army, which existed from 4 June 1917 onwards.
A mobilisation on such a scale, led by Doctor Teofil Starzyński (President of the Polish Falcons Alliance of America), was unprecedented in the history of the Polish diaspora. The preparatory campaign lasted four months (June-September 1917), and the enlistment itself took 16 months (October 1917- -February 1919). The transport of the first 1,200 volunteers trained in Canada set sail from New York to Bordeaux on 16 December 1917. A total of 20,720 recruits were deployed from America to France.
The steady inflow of volunteers from America permitted the subsequent formation of the Polish Army in France, as until December 1917 it had numbered a mere 820 soldiers. On 10 January 1918, the 1st Polish Rifle Regiment, 70 percent of which constituted volunteers from America, was formed. On 10 April 1918, the Polish troops in France numbered 204 officers and 10,638 rank-and-file soldiers, which permitted the organization of one infantry division comprising cavalry, artillery, technical units, auxiliary troops and air force, from 10 August 1918 onwards.
The influx of volunteers from America and the rapid development of the Blue Army in 1918 politically strengthened the Polish National Committee operating in Paris, which was symbolically confirmed by the signatures of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Roman Dmowski affixed on the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. During the warfare in France, on the Ukrainian front and in the Polish-Bolshevik war for Poland’s independence, 1,832 volunteers from America were killed, and a further 2,011 were wounded.
It is worth noting that the volunteers from America deserve our historical gratitude not only for their sacrifice of health and life, but also for the financial aid received from Poles living there. Between 1914-1920 they contributed over USD 16 million (currently the equivalent of approx. USD 400 million) for the Polish cause, including the military.
Both sides of the silver coin feature figures from the Warsaw Memorial to the Military Effort of Polish Americans, the work of the sculptor Andrzej Pityński. The central part of the reverse of the coin features a Blue Army cavalryman on horseback during attack. In the bottom left field there is the eagle of the volunteers from America holding a sash with the inscription “ARMIA POLSKA” (Polish Army) in its claws. The obverse of the coin depicts a dynamic figure of a Blue Army soldier holding a banner with the Polish eagle.