Show Less
Restricted access

Through the Back Door

The Black Market in Poland 1944–1989


Jerzy Kochanowski

This book analyzes the history of the black market in Poland before the 1940s and the development of black-market phenomena in post-war Poland. The author evaluates the interrelation between black-market phenomena and historical and geographical conditions. At first, the black market stabilized the system by making it more flexible and creating a margin of freedom, albeit in the short term. In the long run, the informal economic activities of the people ran counter to and undermined the official ideology of the state. The author concludes that in post-war Poland, owing to a singular coincidence of historical, political, economic and social factors, the second economy had its own unique character and an endemic presence that loomed large in the Soviet Bloc.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

8. Dollar and Gold


← 284 | 285 →

8.  Dollar and Gold949

8.1  Dollar and Gold: A Panacea for Tough Times

There are good reasons why gold and the dollar have been treated together in this chapter. What they had in common was not just that they were both used as stores of value and referred to by Polish economists by the collective name “hard currency assets”950 but also that both merited the equal and special attention of the law enforcement agencies.951

Gold and hard currency in general, and US dollars in particular, played a special role in the social, economic and political life of post-war Poland, providing a panacea during the hard times which the 20th century brought to the country in abundance. Two world wars, frequent changes of the political system involving the moving of borders, economic crises, (hyper)inflation, and the absurdities of the communist economy made Poles only too acutely aware of how fragile human life was and how unreliable any investment, be it bank savings, stocks and shares, or even real estate. With the outbreak of the First World War, coins made from precious metals disappeared immediately from circulation. Those lucky enough to have any hid them well and spent sparingly, to protect themselves from the fast-growing inflation that was eviscerating paper money. Another side effect of the First World War was to bring the USA and its currency to Europe. The US dollar challenged the supremacy of the British pound in...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.