Józef Kuraś “Ogień” commemorated on an NBP silver coin

Warsaw, 14 March 2023 – Narodowy Bank Polski is putting into circulation a new collector coin of the series “The Enduring Soldiers Accursed by the Communists”.

Narodowy Bank Polski announced that a new collector coin of the series “The Enduring Soldiers Accursed by the Communists” – Józef Kuraś “Ogień” will be available on sale as of 15 March 2023. The silver coin with a face value of 10 złoty will be minted in up to 10,000 pieces and will be sold at all the Regional Branches of NBP and in the NBP online shop Kolekcjoner at the price of PLN 200. The coin commemorates Józef Kuraś, a Home Army soldier; it is made of silver (Ag 925), its diameter is 32 millimetres and it weighs 14.14 grams.

Narodowy Bank Polski has prepared an exhibition entitled “The Enduring Soldiers Accursed by the Communists”, to enable the public to familiarise themselves with the images of the soldiers portrayed on the coins of the series under the same name. The exhibition will be held from 15 March 2023 at the Regional Branches of NBP. The inhabitants of Mazovia will be able to see it from 23 March at the Accursed Soldiers Museum in Ostrołęka.

Józef Kuraś (“Ogień”, “Orzeł”) was born on 23 October 1915 in Waksmund near Nowy Targ. In 1934, he became a member of the People’s Party (Stronnictwo Ludowe), a peasant party in Poland. Drafted into the army in 1936, he served in Sanok and Słobodka near Vilnius. During the September campaign of 1939, he fought in the ranks of the 1st Podhale Rifle Regiment, a mountain infantry unit. After an unsuccessful attempt to get through to France, he returned to Waksmund. In November 1939, he became involved in underground activities. He was a soldier of the Tatra Confederation (Konfederacja Tatrzańska) and the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), he also commanded the People’s Security Guard (Ludowa Straż Bezpieczeństwa) units and the execution squad of the county branch of the Government Delegation for Poland (the highest authority of the Polish underground state and an agency of the Polish Government in Exile) in Nowy Targ. In June 1943, in retaliation for the execution carried out by Kuraś’s unit on two policemen who were Gestapo agents, the Germans murdered his wife, two-and-a-half-year-old son and father. The bodies of the murdered and Kuraś’s family house were burned. It was then that Józef Kuraś adopted the pseudonym “Ogień”, which means “Fire” in Polish.

At the beginning of 1945, Kuraś participated in the creation of the structures of the police (the so-called Citizens’ Militia) and the secret police (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa, UB) in Nowy Targ, implementing the recommendations of the opposition party, i.e. the People’s Party led by Stanisław Mikołajczyk, for its sympathizers to take over from within the control of the state power structures established on the territories liberated by the Soviets. When this vision turned out to be unrealistic and the communists’ grip on power proved firm, Kuraś formed the “Błyskawica” partisan unit. On 13 April 1945, he held a briefing in the mountains for his former subordinates, announcing an open fight against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and against the communists. He carried it out in the Podhale region and in other parts of the Kraków province until 1947, in many places becoming a real local military power and even a political power to contend with due to the initial weakness and porousness of the communist rule.

The units led by “Ogień” also organised actions against the Slovaks, who were in favour of the annexation of the Polish parts of Spisz and Orawa by the Slovak state. The “Błyskawica” group had an excellent intelligence service and enjoyed wide popular support. On 21 February 1947, Major “Ogień” was finally surrounded by units of the UB and the Internal Security Corps in the village of Ostrowsko near Nowy Targ and attempted to commit suicide. The next day he died from his wounds in a hospital in Nowy Targ. To this day, his burial place is unknown.

The reverse of the coin carries the images of Józef Kuraś “Ogień”, a white-and-red flag with the symbol of Fighting Poland, and the inscriptions: “Zachowali się jak trzeba” (“They acted as they should”) and “1915–1947” (Ogień’s dates of birth and death).

The obverse of the coin, apart from the obligatory elements such as the face value, the inscription “Rzeczpospolita Polska”, the year of issue and the image of the Eagle established as the state emblem of the Republic of Poland, features a graphic image of prison bars torn apart.

The following coins have been issued as part of the series “The Enduring Soldiers Accursed by the Communists” since 2017:  

  • The Enduring Soldiers
  • Danuta Siedzikówna “Inka”
  • Witold Pilecki “Witold”
  • Feliks Selmanowicz “Zagończyk”
  • Henryk Glapiński “Klinga”
  • August Emil Fieldorf “Nil”
  • Hieronim Dekutowski “Zapora”
  • Stanisław Kasznica „Wąsowski”
  • Łukasz Ciepliński “Pług”
  • 75th Anniversary of the “Freedom and Independence” Association
  • Mieczysław Dziemieszkiewicz “Rój”
  • Kazimierz Kamieński “Huzar”
  • Zdzisław Broński “Uskok”
  • Antoni Żubryd “Zuch”
  • Józef Kuraś “Ogień”

The images of the coins and the brochures are available at: Archives of The Enduring Soldiers Accursed by the Communists | Narodowy Bank Polski – Web service (nbp.pl)

The next issue is scheduled on 4 April 2023. On that date Narodowy Bank Polski will be putting into circulation a silver coin “Stanisław Wojciechowski” with a face value of 10 złoty.


Contact for collectors: e-mail kolekcjoner@nbp.pl, tel. +48 22 185 17 05

Contact for the media: e-mail press@nbp.pl, tel. +48 22 185 20 12


About NBP

Narodowy Bank Polski holds the exclusive right to issue banknotes and coins in Poland. All currency issued by NBP – including collector banknotes and coins – is legal tender in Poland. Issuing collector items is an occasion to commemorate important historic figures and anniversaries, as well as to develop the interest of the public in Polish culture, science and tradition.

High-resolution images of the coin: https://nbp.pl/en/collector-coins/