“The Warsaw Thermopylae” Commemorated with a Silver Coin Issued by NBP

Narodowy Bank Polski is putting into circulation a new coin of the series “The Polish Thermopylae”.

A new collector coin of the series “The Polish Thermopylae” – “The Warsaw Thermopylae” will be available on sale as of 17 August 2023. The silver coin with a face value of 20 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 280. The coin commemorates the heroic defence of the outposts in Młociny and Placówka on the outskirts of Warsaw in September 1939, which went down in history as the Warsaw Thermopylae. The coin is made of 925 purity silver, it has a diameter of 38.61 mm and weighs 28.28 grams.

In the wake of defeat in the battle of the Bzura River in mid-September 1939, bloodied units of the “Poznań” and the “Pomorze” Armies under the command of Major General Tadeusz Kutrzeba were retreating towards Warsaw through the Kampinos Forest and along the Zakroczym road. At the same time, the Germans were trying to close the encirclement of the Polish capital. The 1st Battalion of the 30th Infantry Regiment of Kaniów Riflemen commanded by Major Bronisław Czesław Kamiński was deployed to the outskirts of Warsaw to cover the retreat of the Polish troops. On 20 September 1939 at dawn, the battalion took control of the wooded hills west of the Młociny village buildings and held that position, fighting the enemy and enduring artillery shelling.

Before sunrise the next day, the Kaniów Riflemen moved to the neighbouring settlement called Placówka. Having encountered no enemy there, they started preparations for defence. Major Kamiński established his command post in the villa owned by Jan Gessner, a pharmacist from Warsaw, and observed the movements of the Germans in the surrounding area. After 9:00 a.m., while the Polish troops were still building their defence positions, they suddenly found themselves under a heavy artillery barrage. Terrified villagers took shelter in their basements. Units of the 24th Wehrmacht Infantry Division, supported by armoured vehicles, were advancing against the Polish position from the direction of Wólka Węglowa and Radiowo. The Germans stormed into Placówka. A fierce close quarters battle commenced in the burning streets, where the soldiers sometimes fought with bayonets and camp shovels. Major Kamiński fell while he was leading the reserve company in a counterattack. Several other officers were killed as well: Captain Tadeusz Rudowski, First Lieutenant Karol Lange and Second Lieutenants Wacław Tejchfeld and Stefan Bradmiller. After nearly two hours of deadly struggle, the decimated Kaniów Riflemen were forced to retreat from Placówka.

The 1st Battalion of the 30th Infantry Regiment of Kaniów Riflemen sustained huge losses: about 500 killed and 250 wounded. By taking the brunt of the all-out attack by an overwhelming enemy force, Major Kamiński’s troops obeyed the order they had been given – they effectively covered the Polish units moving from the area of the Kampinos Forest to Warsaw. On 23 September 1939, German soldiers committed a war crime against the civil population of Placówka. They executed several men, including sculptor Józef Below.

Major Kamiński was laid to rest in the Powązki Military Cemetery and his subordinates in the Wawrzyszew Cemetery. The defenders of Placówka are commemorated by a monument erected in front of the Warsaw Steel Works in September 1979.

The reverse of the silver coin features the image of Major Bronisław Czesław Kamiński and the Badge of the 30th Infantry Regiment of Kaniów Riflemen. The obverse of all the coins from the “Polish Thermopylae” series features Athena, the Greek goddess of just war and wisdom.

More information can be found in the brochure.

NBP collector coins and banknotes are sold in commercial packaging with an attached certificate.

The next issue is scheduled for 24 August 2023. On that date Narodowy Bank Polski will be putting into circulation silver coins “Friendship and Brotherhood Are the Greatest Wealth”, with a face value of 10 złoty, which will create a set with 10 hryvnia coins issued on the same day by the National Bank of Ukraine.

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 coins: nbp.pl/en/coins-and-banknotes/collector-coins/