Poland was given back approximately 100 tons of gold from three nations — the U.K., Canada and America — that had been holding the bars since the Second World War.
Poland’s geography put it in a terrible situation when Adolph Hitler turned his aggression toward the countries he believed had wronged Germany after the First World War.
Because Poland is centred smack dab in the middle of Europe and it borders on Germany, it became instantly vulnerable when Hitler marshaled troupes to invade and occupy territories in Europe.
His first target was Poland, and before citizens really knew what was happening, their country was no longer theirs, but occupied by the foreign dictator.
Although the Allies did not react initially, hoping that Hitler would be satisfied with taking Poland by force, they also knew that the man at the helm of the Nazi party was likely to strip the land bare of all its wealth.
The Allies’ instincts were correct on that score, but on November 22nd, in the dead of night, a historic wrong was finally righted.
The operation came off without a hitch, authorities said, but it sounds like it took the intricate plotting of a John Le Carre spy novel to ensure the gold’s safe return. The only element missing was James Bond himself.
The gold bars are said to be worth about five billion (USD). It arrived in Poland in three separate, bullet-proof trucks, and was taken to the Narodowy Bank Polski, where it was promptly stored in vaults.
Completing the task, getting the gold from the plane to the trucks to the bank, took eight separate trips.
Once the transfer was finished and officials were able to speak about it to the media, authorities assured everyone that the operation had gone very smoothly, with no glitches whatsoever.
The company that handled the deal was G4S Cash Solutions U.K. Its director, John Lennox, told Sky News that, “given the sensitivity of this operation, we needed to be prepared for anything. Plans can change at short notice.
Having a strong team, flexible and professional drivers, and making sure everyone was regularly updated meant the operation was a complete success.”
The gold was taken out of Poland in the midst of the war, and safely stored in London, New York, and Ottawa.
Its repatriation has been decades coming, and all concerned are delighted that the bars are at long last back where they belong.
Describing the operation to the media, Lennox said, “the movements of the gold were meticulously planned in co-ordination with everyone, including the police, the Bank of England, (and) the Narodowy Bank Polski.”
A spokesman for G4S Cash Solutions called the repatriation a “historic day in the gold industry.” Each and every bar is stamped and has a serial number that authenticates its origins.
Poland’s officials are, needless to say, thrilled that the gold is back where it belongs. In fact, the government plans to issue a special coin to citizens, to mark the historic occasion.
It is a day surely worth noting in modern Polish history. The war took a huge toll on the people, and estimates for the many who died during the conflict reach six million.
According to a story by the BBC in August of this year, Poland’s citizens suffered enormously when Hitler began his attacks; a town of no military consequence, Wielun, was bombed on September 1st, 1939. It succeeded, and the war ensued from there.
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But November 22, 2019 was not a day to reflect on the war’s destruction. It was a day of celebration in Poland, now that the nation has seen returned what has been rightfully its own for many, many decades.