Fundusz Obrony Narodowej
Fundusz Obrony Narodowej ("National Defense Fund") was an attempt by both the government of the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 and the Polish nation to collect funds necessary for improving fighting ability of the Polish Army before the increasingly likely World War II.


When Poland regained independence in the fall of 1918, the most important task was to create from scratch armed forces of the fledgling republic. Surrounded by hostile neighbors, Poland managed to recover from several conflicts, but the government in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 was well aware that sooner or later there would be new wars.

Several historians claim that Marshall Józef Piłsudski and his obsolete notions hampered the development of the Polish Army. Pilsudski was not interested in armored forces and aircraft, he emphasized the importance of cavalry and infantry instead. After his death in 1935, the new Marshall, Edward Rydz-Śmigły immediately decided to start a huge project of modernization of the Army. However, the budget was too tight to cover the gigantic costs. Thus, the idea of the National Defense Fund was born.


The Fund was created on April 9, 1936 by a special decree of President Ignacy Mościcki
Ignacy Moscicki
Ignacy Mościcki was a Polish chemist, politician, and President of Poland . He was the longest-serving President of Poland .-Life:...

. Its purpose was to collect additional sources of money, necessary for supplying deficiencies in the military equipment of the Polish Army. Means were acquired in different ways, chiefly these were:
  • selling of state-owned land, controlled by the military,
  • endowments from state treasury (mostly based on a loan from France),
  • gifts from both private individuals and private institutions.

The response of the nation was immense. Altogether, FON collected around 1 billion zlotys, out of which almost 40 million were made by various gifts from the nation. Patriotic citizens of the whole country would give their personal savings, kids in schools gave their pocket money, in numerous cases people gave their jewelry, precious coins, gold earrings, plates, utensils and anything precious they had in their homes.

In several documented cases members of national minorities joined the action. In the town of Krzeszowice
Krzeszowice is a town in southern Poland, situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. As of 2004, the population of Krzeszowice was 9,993.In 2008, it was selected with 19 villages of Europe -Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain- for the Spanish documentary film "Villages of Europe" Pueblos de Europa,...

, Jews made in 1938 some 17% of the population, but they provided some 36% of money and valuables. Also, many celebrities helped with collection. According to Polish music expert Boguslaw Kaczynski
Boguslaw Kaczynski
Bogusław Kaczyński is a renowned classical music journalist.He is the author of a classical recording series called The Golden Collection. He also hosted well known musical competitions, e. g...

, in 1938 and 1939 Jan Kiepura
Jan Kiepura
Jan Wiktor Kiepura was an acclaimed Polish singer and actor.-Biography:...

, a famous singer, gave permission for his name to be used on collection boxes. Apart from individuals, several companies helped. Among others, a famous radio factory Elektrit
Elektrit Radiotechnical Society was the biggest private-run company in Wilno in the interwar period. With over 1100 workers, the society produced approximately 50 thousand radio receivers annually. A large percentage of the production was exported abroad, mostly to Sweden, Germany, Czechoslovakia...

, sponsored in 1937 a RWD-10
-See also:-References:* Glass, Andrzej: "Polskie konstrukcje lotnicze 1893-1939" , WKiŁ, Warsaw 1977, p. 308-311 * Cynk, Jerzy B.. “Polish Aircraft 1893–1939”. London, Putnam. 1971. ISBN 0 370 00085 4...


Money was collected not only in Poland - on October 1, 1936 Theophil Starzynski, President of The Polish Falcons of America called for help raise American money in support of the military equipment needs of Poland, threatened by Nazi Germany. Also, Poles from Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 collected by June 1939 the amount of 380,118 dinars.

Polish government divided everything into two groups - cash money and other items. The money was immediately used for purchases of arms and ammunition, distributed to several divisions of the Army. Usually, locals would support their own garrison - e.g. in 1938 kids from Elementary School Number 6 in Płock collected money for a machine gun, presented to the Płock garrison. According to professor Wojciech Roszkowski
Wojciech Roszkowski
Wojciech Roszkowski is a Polish economist and politician and Member of the European Parliament for the Silesian Voivodeship with the Law and Justice, part of the Union for a Europe of Nations and sits on the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets.Roszkowski is a substitute for the Committee on...

, in the years 1936-1939 about 3 million Poles provided the Fund with their money or valuables.

World War Two and its aftermath

In September 1939, with the fall of Poland imminent after several weeks of hostilities (see: Polish September Campaign) such items as jewelry, gold and silver were taken to France, by minister and diplomat Waclaw Jedrzejewicz
Waclaw Jedrzejewicz
General Wacław Jędrzejewicz was a Polish Army officer and diplomat and subsequently an American college professor. He was co-founder and long-time president of the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America.-Life:...

 as well as other members of the government. Also, during the war, money and valuables were collected among Polish communities of USA and Canada.

In 1945 the Polish government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 in London decided that FON sources would be used to help members of the disbanded Armia Krajowa
Armia Krajowa
The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

. Two years later, the so-called "Committee of the Three" (General Stanisław Tatar, Colonels Marian Utnik and Stanisław Nowicki), who administered the fund, decided to send it back to Communist-controlled Poland. Until March 1948 it was overseen by the Ministry of Treasury, then passed to the National Bank of Poland
National Bank of Poland
Narodowy Bank Polski is the central bank of Poland. It controls the issuing of Poland's currency, the złoty. The Bank is headquartered in Warsaw, and has branches in every major Polish town...

. In 1951 parts of it (around 122 kilograms) were smelted into gold bars; fate of some of them is still unknown. What remains, are silver gifts, which are now stored in the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

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