Stash of WWII cash worth half a million złoty found hidden in village barn
Half a million złotys in banknotes issued during the German occupation has been found hidden under a barn in a village near Kraków.
The cash from 1940-1941 was discovered under a thick layer of hay when the barn’s owner was demolishing the farm building.
According to detectorist and blogger Zawiadowca Historii, the find came to light when the Małopolska Historical Exploration Group received an unusual phone call.
“Hello […] my husband has just dug up some cash in the barn,” the voice of a woman said.
When members of the group arrived, they found 5, 20 and 50 złoty banknotes. Most of the banknotes are badly damaged by time. Only a small number are in good condition.
A member of the exploration group told TFN: “The money was hidden from the German occupiers, and had to be very well concealed in order not to be found in the event of a German search, as this would have risked the holders being unmasked and a possible death sentence for the family.”
The finder's grandfather and great-grandfather were members of the Home Army, and the money was probably obtained during a heist against the Germans.
“Partisans often used this method to obtain funds needed for their underground activities,” the informant said.
After the entry of the Red Army, the money lost any value and remained forgotten in hiding.
The treasure hunter continued: “The deposit has no material value and is only a historical curiosity and an interesting souvenir from the occupation times. The surviving banknotes will remain in the family as a keepsake.”
The notes were issued by the Emission Bank in Poland, which was set up by the Germans in the Nazis’ General Government in Kraków by Hans Frank in December 1939.
The currency was issued under the traditional name of Złoty and divided into 100 groschen. During the more than five-year history of the General Government two issues of banknotes appeared.
The Germans tried to make the new money look similar to the money issued in Poland before the occupation.
However, they removed the Polish eagle and well-known historical figures such as Bolesław Chrobry and Józef Poniatowski.
The highest denomination, 500 złotys, had an image of a highlander on the obverse and the Tatra mountains on the reverse.
Other notes featured characteristic buildings in Kraków: 50 złotys - the Cloth Hall, 20 złotys - Wawel Castle.
The banknotes were colloquially called mlynarki from the name of the bank’s president Feliks Młynarski, złote krakowskie from the bank’s location.