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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.

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8.3.2 Transfer

Beginning with the fall of 1956, such operations became relatively safe and thus commonplace. Whether a small storeowner or an experienced black‑market swindler with cosy connections in governmental echelons of power, their preferred method for the preservation of capital was the same: bury a jar with golden rubles, dollars or Austrian ducats in the backyard. “There he stands behind the till of his small local store, a jar full of candy on the counter, dreaming about gold filling up his stocking – gold that neither water nor fire nor the financial department will take away.”1042 This little vignette epitomized the petty‑bourgeois gold ←319 | 320→hoarding in 1967. In 1964, a raid on just some of the perpetrators in the “meat affair” uncovered 17 285 dollars in gold dollar pieces and another 15 000 in bills, 1 500 gold rubles, 2 000 gold crowns, 22 gold ducats, 1.7 kg of gold bars and a substantial amount of gold items “of value yet to be established.”1043 The volume of gold accumulated in communist Poland is hard to estimate but it is reasonable to assume that the practice must have been widespread through social groups other than storekeepers and criminals.1044

Whenever political or market conditions worsened, nervous gold and currency hoarders became more active. The waves of panic that kept erupting on the market due to international crises and the fear of war (the Berlin crisis in 1961, Cuban missile crisis in 1962, Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968) and recurrent rumors about currency revaluation (notably in September and October 1963, January 1968, and October and November 1969) not only prompted runs on stores, denuding them completely of pasta, sugar and canned goods but also resulted in a soaring black‑market dollar price and increased demand for gold.1045 The 1968 political crisis, which came to be known simply as “March 1968” or the “March events”, was characteristic in that regard. The events of March 1968 put black‑market activities on hold until April. During that period, the demand for hard currency and gold soared. Due to scarce supply, the price soon followed the upward path. Dollar bills rose accordingly: bills of small denominations up to 125 zloty and in larger denominations up to 132 zloty for a dollar; the price of 100g gold bars exceeded 20 000 zloty. […] Between mid‑August and mid‑October, the hard currency trade diminished. Small denomination dollar bills rose to 131 zloty and larger ones to 134–135 zloty per dollar; gold bars ←320 | 321→from 170 to 180 dollars, thus from 23 600 to 24 500 zloty. In gold transactions, Polish cash was rarely used.”1046

The government policy towards private entrepreneurs – the main buyers of dollars and gold – had a significant effect on the going market rate. The restrictions implemented in 1969 that lasted until the early 1970s, which included increasing taxes, limiting state sector cooperation, and media propaganda accusing entrepreneurs of “unjust enrichment”, temporarily impoverished private business owners. As a result, the price of valuables fell. Between December 1970 and June 1971, the dollar went from 127 down to 97 zloty, a 100g gold bar from 23 000 to 19 000 zloty, and a twenty dollar coin from 8 200 to 6 800 zloty. In consequence, the state jewelry enterprise Jubiler increased its purchase of gold by several times.1047 When the green light for private initiative was again given, coinciding with symptoms of the national crisis becoming more visible, the demand for gold rose rapidly. A similar mechanism could be observed in the following decade.

Apart from the internal economic factors, the Polish gold market was also affected by the fluctuations in international markets. From 260 dollars per ounce in 1979, gold shot up to 850 dollars in late 1980. In Poland, the black market price of gold grew much more slowly, which made bringing the precious metal to Poland gradually less profitable and there were instances of trade reversal, with gold bars and bullion taken to the West.1048 However, when, in the second half of the 1980s, gold went down on the global market, while the monetary overhang and thus the possibility of price hikes in Poland increased, gold once more began to pour into the country in quantity. Interestingly, it was largely paid for with the proceeds of the illegal export of silver, a natural resource abundant in Poland, hence cheap – whereas in the West its price was rising rapidly.1049

Polish migration, temporary and permanent, was of vital importance in shaping the black market in hard currency and gold. This was particularly noticeable immediately after the war. The returnees were bringing back to their homeland foreign money and gold; those leaving, whether legally or not, tried to take valuables with them. Refugees from Poland, both Poles and Jews, exchanged their possessions for gold and money, which were to help make their new life easier. Those who were already abroad and had no intention of coming back but had left behind some belongings, exchanged them for valuables that were easy to ←321 | 322→smuggle out of the country.1050 The scale of the transfers can be gathered from a note referring to the UNRRA camp for Displaced Persons (DPs), which was published in the Special Bulletin of the Polish Military Mission to Germany in April 1946. The majority of those in the camp were Jewish refugees from Poland. “Jews are complaining about the stricter recent checks at all the border crossing points. The border guards confiscate something from every single person. This “something” ranges from $1 000 to $2 000 in cash or items of jewelry of similar value. […] The camp residents are in possession of huge amounts of foreign currency, as is evident from the fact that last week, in the Russian zone near Szczecin, NKVD officials confiscated from Hersz Mandelbach from Łódź $11 200. He had made this fortune by smuggling saccharine.”1051 As could be expected, rumors that “emigration of the Jewish population” was soon to be suspended and a “group of emigrants would be returning to Poland from Austria and Czechoslovakia” contributed to the short‑lived decline in gold and hard currency price in August and September 1946.1052

This mechanism was repeated with each subsequent wave of emigration from Poland – Jews between 1956 and 1957, and again between 1967 and 1968, Germans between the 1950s and the 1970s, and the mass exodus in the 1980s. Studies to date have focused more on the political circumstances of emigration from Poland,1053 rather than the mechanisms that facilitated the financial aspects of the move such as prospective émigrés selling their assets in order to transfer their value into hard currency or gold (not to mention the legal and illegal transport of personal effects) – which await future research. There is no doubt that both ←322 | 323→gold and hard currency played an important role,1054 and that the emigrants provided a solid base for gold and currency cross‑border trade operations. MBP/ MSW officials responsible for the prosecution of currency smuggling pointed to the significant participation in this type of crime by the Jewish population in Poland and abroad. Indeed, by the end of the 1960s Jewish‑sounding surnames kept appearing in investigation and court reports. It is hard to determine if this over‑representation genuinely reflected the fact that a large number of emigrants settled in Germany, Austria or Belgium were actively participating in illegal trade with the homeland, or whether the focus of the interest reflected the bias of the state agencies. The fact remains that soon after 1968, names stereotypically considered Jewish disappeared from the reports on currency smuggling. As a matter of fact it was not ethnicity or nationality that was most important, since the police had representatives of many countries documented in their files, but the expected profit. Contrary to popular opinion, currency smuggling was not an easy way to make a living.


By the late 1950s, dollars and gold had assumed distinctively separate functions in Poland. Dollars became a form of working capital, often assembled with an investment in mind (for example in international trade) or used to finance consumption while gold maintained its role as a long‑term investment to be deployed only in emergencies. One thing had not changed – a potential Polish investor had to purchase gold abroad and bring it back, usually having to pay for it in hard currency. These were indeed large‑scale operations: according to police estimates, between 1945 and 1971, an influx from abroad of 273 million dollars and of approximately 40 tons of gold penetrated the area of the economy not under state control.1055 A large proportion of the gold arriving in Poland had been obtained in Germany, Italy, and Austria and paid for with smuggled currency, which, according to the Prosecutor General, was the domain of both “accidental criminals” and “professional hard currency dealers and smugglers”.1056

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Smuggling watches in walnuts, pre-1958; photo from a private collection.

Those who used their trip abroad to smuggle items at their own risk – whether as tourists, visiting family, or doing business – could be classified as being in the first category. The mass scale of the phenomenon put a large amount of goods on the market, including hard currency and gold. The retailer smugglers merit a chapter to themselves; here I would like to focus on the wholesale – large‑scale business that significantly influenced the Polish black market. In the Gomułka ←324 | 325→and Gierek eras, the media regularly reported on the successes of the authorities in smashing “currency smuggling groups”, portrayed as gangs of shady mafiosos. A group liquidated in the spring of 1971 was nicknamed “Red Inn”; its boss, Jan Kucharski, the owner of a café in Szaflary, was dubbed by the press the “Banker of Podhale”.1057 Most of the gangs, usually named after their most prominent figure (Oksztel, Laster, Głogowski, Smoliński, Mętlewicz, etc.), were networks that included officials higher in the pecking order, customs officers, private operators, railroad workers, and housewives who all shared an appetite for profit‑yielding pursuits. “The ‘gold gangs’,” an Odgłosy journalist wrote in 1973, “have always operated, and continue to do so, through such incongruously diverse personal configurations, bringing together people so different in their social demeanor, mentality, knowledge, and position held, that nothing would surprise us any longer. Thousands of people follow the example of the legendary Midas and want to be surrounded with gold.”1058

Membership of the gang was usually unstructured and determined by utilitarian factors. Profit from currency transactions was earned in addition to official wages, which it often exceeded many times over. Drivers and railroad workers provided safe transportation for smuggled goods; customs officials made sure there were no unpleasant surprises at the border. Store managers and craftsmen could, without attracting suspicion, store the hard currency and distribute the gold that had been smuggled in. From analysis of the social composition of gang members it is plain that they were more likely to wield a pen than a gun as their weapon of choice – this was often a white‑collar crime. For example in February 1964, the Wrocław Security Service identified a group of hard currency criminals which, from the late 1950s, had been bringing illegally to Poland gold coins and bars as well as precious and synthetic stones. All the goods were bought with dollars and with the silver smuggled out of the country. Sixty people were arrested, and 19 were charged. Among them, four watchmakers, four Jubiler store managers, a toy store owner, three owners of a synthetic products factory, employees of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society (PTTK), the Pharmacy Board, a pensioner, a waitress and four unemployed persons.1059 The makeup of other groups was not very different.

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We know from court records that the gangs were impressively effective; their success relied on tight logistics and extensive knowledge of the market in Poland and abroad, where gangs often had a resident insider.1060 For example, between 1960 and 1963, the Leonard Smoliński group1061 “smuggled out of Poland more than 765 000 US dollars, 50 000 rubles, and 600 000 Polish zloty in cash, and also brought in illegally over 10 000 twenty‑dollar gold coins, with a total weight of approximately 300 kg.”1062 In early 1976, the trial of ten large-scale hard currency and gold illegal traders began. One of the accused, Wiktor Mętlewicz, had between 1963 and 1973 traded in Warsaw and Vienna 502 million zloty of “currency assets”; another, Mieczysław Młynarczyk, had shifted approximately a billion zlotys’ worth. He was accused of purchasing or acquiring for the purpose of re‑sale 96 000 dollars, 113 920 gold twenty‑dollar, 14 000 5-ruble coins, and 2 245 kg of gold bars. “From this amount, however” – as the indictment pointed out in all fairness, “one should deduct the 80 kg of gold that had been smuggled in, although it was subsequently smuggled back abroad due to the rapid gold price hike in the West.”1063 Such cases provide some indication of the size of the transactions made by specific groups but not of the nationwide scale of the gold black market. In 1972, some 10 million dollars were estimated to be smuggled out of Poland annually and exchanged abroad for 2.5 tons of gold and approximately one ton of artificial gems and similar goods1064 but we shall never know how accurate those estimates were.

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The practice of smuggling rubles and zloty out of the country requires additional clarification. The secret of its success lay in the grassroots creative approach prevalent in the socialist states including Poland: the officially non‑convertible rubles, forints and korunas were not only treated as convertible but indeed backed by gold. In Vienna, it was more profitable to buy gold ducats paying with Hungarian forints (often called Carpathian dollars), Czechoslovakian korunas or Soviet rubles than to buy them with US dollars smuggled out of Poland. Occasionally, Poles would sell dollars in order to buy the currencies of Soviet Bloc countries’, then smuggle these out to Vienna, Trieste, Hamburg, or West Berlin.1065 No wonder that on the black market, socialist state currencies were valued almost as highly as US dollars or West German marks.

Until the late 1950s, smuggling was the domain of diplomats on official trips abroad, sailors, and railroad workers who took advantage of the opportunities provided by their professional circumstances. After 1956, when the borders restrictions were eased, the situation changed. In the 1960s and the 1970s, smuggling became a mass pursuit; Polish illegal traders ventured as far afield as the Middle and Far East and America, now with varied means of transportation such as private cars and airplanes at their disposal. The job of customs officials became more onerous. The customs trade newspaper commented on the ruses of aircraft passengers: “Gold products smuggled in [to Poland] – mostly rings and chains – are hidden in hollowed‑out citrus fruit, shoe heels and inside women’s wigs. […] One well‑known Warsaw entertainer returning from a tour of the Soviet Union used a sizeable fake microphone to smuggle in a substantial number of gold objects.”1066 Those who stuck to traditional travel by trains and bus developed tricks to surprise even the most experienced customs officer. A dental technician from Łódź, Jerzy Paszkowski, had an original idea: between 1959 and 1964, he smuggled into France 38 thousand dollars in hollowed‑out kiełbasa and brought back approximately 30 kilos of gold. On other occasions, powdered gold traveled to Poland in seemingly factory‑sealed coffee or cocoa cans. Upon arrival, the gold powder was separated and melted into bars – not a very complicated task.1067

Poles took advantage both of the well‑established practice of smuggling across the “green border” – crossing the border at random, unguarded places ←327 | 328→in the countryside (a specialty of the Podhale region, with its many miles of mountainous borderland) – as well as through mass tourist travel, assuming correctly that backpackers would not be subjected to thorough checks at the border. With the gold smuggled in from Turkey and southern Europe the trick was for the traveler returning, for example, from Italy, with jewelry that he intended to take illegally across the border, to pass the goods on to someone about to cross the border into Poland, someone who had traveled into Czechoslovakia no further than the narrow strip of the designated mass tourist zone, where there were no opportunities to buy gold. The customs checks for such tourists were much less thorough. This method was probably used on numerous occasions – until June 27, 1970, when, at a border crossing in Łysa Polana, customs officials searching four tourists who had been no further than the “convention zone” happened on 1.8 kg of gold jewelry worth 433 000 zloty.1068

The most effective smuggling method for currency assets was to use as mules people who traveled frequently, or, best of all diplomats, who were protected by their prestige and professional immunity. In the first group were Polish athletes who engaged in contraband activities on a mass scale. In the mid‑1960s, the javelin thrower Janusz Sidło and Władysław Komar, later an Olympic shot‑put medalist, were charged with smuggling. “According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” the Prosecutor General wrote to Prime Minister Józef Cyrankiewicz in March 1965, “this type of fraud is quite common and prosecuting all those guilty of such abuses could lead to the breaking up of the track and field national team and those of other athletic disciplines.”1069 Since to bring to justice members of national sports teams – household names in Poland and abroad – would have had negative repercussions, the prosecution of famous athletes was swept under the carpet.1070 However, the cases of less popular athletes who ostentatiously engaged in currency smuggling usually landed up in front of a judge. In 1971, the Army Prosecutor’s Office charged athletes of the Warsaw Legia team with smuggling hard currency out of the country and bringing back gold, which they later sold to “owners of private crafts shops.”1071 Members of the Duplicate Bridge Union were involved in smuggling on a mass scale, and between 1968 and 1972 brought to Poland more than 76 kg of gold.1072 In 1973, verdicts were handed down in ←328 | 329→the “ski gang” case; Stefania Biegun, a cross‑country skier who had represented Poland three times in the Olympics, was found guilty.1073

The transfer of hard currency and gold by diplomatic routes was also thriving. In 1962 it turned out that Ministry of Foreign Affairs couriers and employees of Department I (Intelligence) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, by taking advantage of the diplomatic bag, had spirited out of Poland at least 160 000 dollars and brought back, also via diplomatic mail, 4 000 twenty‑dollar gold coins, gold bars and other valuables. “Our employees,” the Ministry of Internal Affairs commented, “and those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ admit their guilt. They blame the climate prevailing at the MFA. They add that almost all MFA employees who travel abroad and/or are stationed abroad have been involved in illegal trade, even those who occupy top positions in Poland and abroad.”1074 Foreign diplomats were not far behind. From the late 1940s until the late 1980s, there were persistent reports about the mass‑scale involvement of foreign diplomats in the trading of hard currency and gold. There was no particular pattern – all employees of foreign embassies were implicated, Italian as much as Iranian, Finnish as much as Brazilian or Mexican.1075

Until the late 1980s, the foreign agencies covered a significant part of their costs by selling their currencies on the black market. Every so often, especially when hard currency was in short supply, the issue would appear on the radar of the Polish authorities. In the late 1970s, foreign embassies and Polish branches of foreign companies complained that the legally exchanged currencies did not cover the wages of even their Polish employees. And thus the Warsaw black market received annually no fewer than 5 million dollars.1076 At the same time, diplomats residing in Warsaw made full use of their diplomatic immunity and exemption from border controls by using their privileges for their own black market operations. These were the rule rather than the exception, and the very scale of the trade makes it noteworthy. Conchita Partillo, employed at the Mexican embassy during her posting in Warsaw “personally and with the help of ←329 | 330→other employees” brought to Warsaw 165 kg in gold bars and 2.4 kg in gold ruble coins.1077 In 1949, a Polish employee at the Brazilian embassy offered to act as a go‑between in selling hard currency on the black market. Soon this local business turned into a fully blown international enterprise that involved a network of diplomatic outposts and which no longer required any Polish middlemen. Brazilian diplomats “brought [to Poland] large quantities of gold, sold it for dollars, then smuggled the dollars out to use them to buy gold.”1078

It was not only diplomats who shaped the cosmopolitan image of the Polish black market in gold. Rank‑and‑file citizens from the East and the West were willing to take the risk, acutely aware of the potentially handsome profits. Danes found it worthwhile to smuggle into Poland the gold that had been stolen at Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport between 1971 and 1972.1079 Between 1968 and 1970, a representative of the French branch of General Electric, one Jean Teophile Girardot, brought to Poland approximately 35 kg of gold bars and seven thousand gold 10-ruble coins. He smuggled out of Poland 170 000 dollars.1080 The citizens of Yugoslavia became very adept at channeling gold to Poland. Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians followed suit. Budapest’s Keleti railroad station was considered an important European center of illicit gold and hard currency trading. “This is where the European routes cross. Organized groups of dealers work there. Foreigners coming to Hungary from Yugoslavia and Italy exchange gold products for hard currency. Others pay hard currency for gold. Yet others exchange Soviet Bloc currencies for forints.”1081

We touch here upon the geographic aspect of communist Poland’s “gold rush”. Italy and the Soviet Union were the traditional sources of gold jewelry. Gold coins and bars were usually bought in Hamburg or Amsterdam, if to be transported by sea, and Vienna or West Berlin, if destined as overland contraband. In all those cities there were companies mostly run by Jewish refugees from Poland (a fact emphasized in Polish police reports in the 1960s) that specialized in supplying goods sought after on the Polish market, in particular – gold. There were ←330 | 331→rumors that a significant number of gold $20 coins were manufactured locally with a reduced content of the precious metal.1082

Travelers were always on the lookout for new, effective methods of smuggling but also for new markets, where they could profitably sell Polish products, often not very attractive by international standards, in order to spend the proceeds on buying gold. In the 1970s Poles zeroed in on Egypt, Turkey and the Middle East. “Those countries,” a journalist of the Main Customs Office magazine wrote in 1974, “eager to vacuum up all kinds of goods, are the focus of attention for many Polish tourists. The customs clearance of almost every Orbis group traveling there begins to resemble an Eastern bazaar even before leaving Warsaw International Airport. During the customs inspection, the counters quickly pile up with sewing machines, tape recorders, crystal vases, glass products, irons, fans, coil heaters, paintbrushes, beauty products and many other goods. Every tourist has one main goal – to bring as much gold back home as possible. For many of them this end justifies the means even though they risk losing all their undocumented hard currency. Citizens of Middle Eastern countries behave in a similar fashion. They not only try to smuggle valuable goods out of Poland but have recently also been striking deals with our citizens who give them dollars in advance to buy particular articles.”1083

For commercially gifted and inventive individuals, the world was their oyster. By the late 1970s, Poles had discovered that in Cuba, gold jewelry, and American and Mexican coins – bought, naturally, on the black market – were relatively cheap.1084 Importantly, Poland was often not the final destination but simply a transit point between the Soviet Union and the West. Groups of Polish smugglers, at times aided by trading partners in Austria and West Germany, masterminded the logistics – spiriting away to the East tsarist 5- and 10-ruble pieces, the favorite store of value for Soviet hoarders. Dollar bills and platinum – much cheaper in the Soviet Union – kept arriving in Poland, to be transferred to France, Austria, or Germany. The operation required substantial capital and in‑depth preparation but merited the effort. Certainly, all the organized groups that found themselves facing the Polish justice system at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s were charged ←331 | 332→with smuggling thousands of gold coins, kilograms of platinum and tens of thousands of dollars in cash.1085

It was not, however, the big boss of the smuggling gang who would remain in the collective memory as a symbol of the hard currency black market but rather the nameless money changers – without them this whole enterprise could not have existed.

8.3.3Money Changers: A Portrait Study

In the mid‑1950s,” Jan Nieporowski wrote in 1988, “the rivulets of dollars seeping through the concrete barriers put up by bureaucrats converged into a single, rapidly flowing river, full of whirlpools frothing with scum but worth millions. It was a strange river, partly running on the surface but with stretches flowing underground, one shore somewhat regulated and the other still wild. Decision makers, policemen, and bankers were bustling all along its course. But the most important were the indestructible money changers.”1086

The term “cinkciarz” is not new; it came into mainstream Polish usage in the 1960s, when Polish currency dealers endeavored to accost in broken English the growing numbers of visitors arriving in Poland from the West with offers to buy and sell dollars, pounds, and marks. The opening gambit in English did not usually live up to its promise; “change money” were usually the only two English words the dealers knew.1087 The phrase “change money” was initially polonized as the onomatopoeic cinksiarz or cynkciarz1088 and by the early 1970s had evolved into the current form cinkciarz. Regardless of the name, for half a century these one-man, peripatetic banks were a fixture in the social, economic, and cultural landscape of Polish cities.1089 To sketch a collective portrait of this underground ←332 | 333→contingent is more difficult than may appear at first glance. The rules of the black market game were the reverse of those in the theatre – the more important the actor, the more he kept to the back of the stage, with the bit-part actors hogging the limelight.

None of this of course meant that the walk‑ons and extras were any the less interesting. After the Second World War, which effectively tore down the old social barriers and conventions, the moneychangers became a colorful and diverse group. Alceo Valcini, who in 1945 and 1946 resided in the Hotel Polonia – at the time Warsaw’s most prestigious hotel and home to diplomatic missions, in spite of being located in the midst of the post-war black market bustle, reminisced that on the black market one could meet “an intellectual, a teacher, professionals and young thugs […] ex-students, former servants and common criminals; all those whom war had displaced from regular walks of life and who, with patience and cunning, were making a splendid job of remaining afloat.”1090 Attempts to return to the old ways of life were often wrecked on the rocks of post-war reality. The official wages of workers and the intelligentsia were insufficient to survive on whereas illegal trading guaranteed a much higher standard of living. In the pioneer period immediately after the war the risks were negligible and thus the currency black market was a natural transition for those who had honed their skills during the German occupation but it also quickly attracted new blood.

The majority of these money changers, who plied their trade more or less in the open, were sub‑contractors who operated with capital supplied by dealers higher in the black‑market hierarchy. They worked on commission and sometimes dealt in significant amounts of money.

As mentioned before their main clients were merchants and craftsmen who invested their profits in gold and hard currency. Private stores were often the clandestine money exchange counters. While trading bimber was a natural side line for restaurant and food kiosk owners, jewelers took over the trade in gold ←333 | 334→and hard currency. Jan Łada, the owner of two jewelry stores on Warsaw’s most prestigious thoroughfare, Marszałkowska Street, engaged “from 1945 until February 1949 in illegal, large‑scale hard currency trading. He networked closely with numerous well-known hard currency dealers, conducting transactions worth on average two to three hundred dollars. He bought foreign currencies from well‑known dealers and others who were not hard currency professionals.”1091

In the first half of the 1950s the money dealers’ modus operandi evolved out of necessity. The traditional markets, located in well-known places where the distinctive figures of touts (koniki) offered, sotto voce, transactions in foreign money and gold, disappeared. Now, the dealers were operating clandestinely but they were easy to find. In mid‑1956, an emigrant from Poland reported on Radio Free Europe: “In comparison with the early post‑war years, the situation has changed: no longer are there specific areas where one can find money dealers and do business. One does have to know where to look but anyone with their head screwed on straight can still find them.”1092 “Cafés, archways, stores”, recalled another visitor from Poland, “served as [the dealers’] meeting places.” In the morning, usually at around 11 am, a handful of those with the most authority would gather to coordinate the exchange rate. […] In Warsaw, the daily rate was set under the clock at the suburban commuter train station (EKD) at Nowogrodzka Street, where “come 11 am, there were always some individuals moving through the crowd and nervously exchanging opinions on the current value of the dollar, only to disappear quickly in different directions.”1093

The transactions were usually not conducted directly but via a contact “box”. This was a third person whom the buyer approached for the goods after paying the amount due. Sometimes it was a woman with a stroller, who, if the need arose, could plausibly explain that a stranger must have planted a roll of bills under her baby’s blanket. Sometimes a store was used as the box, since this was a place where this was unlikely to arouse suspicion. Only rarely would deals be struck in private apartments. That was too high‑risk for all those involved.1094 The post‑October 1956 political thaw “re‑opened the gates to the dealers’ paradise. They could once more carry cash about their person and meet in the open.”1095

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Boom time for the hard currency dealers had arrived, and was to continue for another three decades. It was favored by variable exchange rates, the temporary weakening of the political regime and the easing of the repression, the development of the internal export system and the introduction of PKO coupons, as well as less strict border controls, which meant a greater influx of foreign visitors and more Poles traveling outside of the country. The enduring prosperity shaped in a natural way the image of the black market milieu and influenced the development of its hierarchical structure with its distinct division of tasks and roles, idiosyncratic language, customs, behavior and rituals, and its characteristic methods of operation and defense strategies.1096

The big shots stayed in the shadows. The “bankers”, “merchants” (in the Warsaw terminology) or “organizers” (as they were called in Krakow) were often big‑time businessmen operating with sums of money that, for that era and political system, were truly staggering: thousands of dollars and gold by the kilogram. It was they who coordinated the rules of the black market game and to a large degree controlled its course. “Their working day,” a Życie Warszawy reporter wrote in 1971, “begins early in the morning with numerous phone calls followed by ‘office’ time at a café […]. There, they clinch the deals and deal with their minions – the money changers and touts. They focus on wholesale deals; petty cash is of no interest to them.”1097 The dollars, marks and pounds these black market would‑be tycoons bought in bulk were simply the operating capital used in a wide range of foreign trade transactions, such as the import of gold and synthetic precious stones1098 or consumer articles unavailable in Poland.

Most of the operations were of course unrecorded and their scale could only be estimated from such unreliable and speculative sources as investigation files. ←335 | 336→The authorities were out to prove the crime was being committed but the usual suspects were determined to frustrate these efforts. Even if we assume that the indictment data were only estimates, they are nevertheless impressive in the context of the economic reality of the time. The five‑year turnover of Henryk Płoski, “the prince of Warsaw money dealers” put on trial in 1966, was allegedly some eight million zloty including 54 000 dollars in cash, 62 000 dollars’ worth of gold and 5 kg of gold bars.1099 Wiktor Mętlewicz and Mieczysław Młynarczyk who came before the court in 1976 have already been mentioned.

Among the leading lights of the Warsaw black market were such colorful figures as Andrzej Rzeszotarski aka “Count Lolo” or “Uncle”, who was an engineer by profession and a bon vivant by inclination; rumor had it that he was in cahoots with those in the high echelons of power.1100 A typical black‑market “banker” posed as a Mr. Average and tried to keep a low profile so as not to attract the attention of the authorities. Tomasz Szczypułkowski, arrested in 1973 and sentenced in 1976 to 12 years in prison, worked as a teacher in a secondary technical school and his wife was an usher. Bolesław Krasucki, a waiter also on trial at the same time (who received a six year sentence), between 1960 and 1973 handled 389 kg of gold, 1 850 $20 coins, 820 5‑ruble, and 410 10‑ruble coins, and 100 Austrian ducats, together valued at 57 000 dollars.1101 Piotr Ambroziewicz commented in 1976: “It is ludicrous to attempt to depict the score-settling between Polish black‑market currency marketeers as some kind of professional gun‑slinging gangsters in action. Rubout is a noisy business that stinks to high heaven and this is a business that is very hush‑hush.”1102

These “bankers” managed both the rank‑and‑file traders who worked on the streets and the middlemen, the “studs” (ogiery) and “hacks” (szkapy) buying hard currency both from regular suppliers – who had access to foreigners through prostitutes, cabdrivers, waiters, or hotel doormen – and from random sellers. If the average tout (konik) was usually a small‑time dealer, the “stud” was a semi-wholesaler who operated with much larger sums of money.1103

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The low‑ranking money changers could be seen on city streets, in ports, in hotels, restaurants, train stations, on international trains, outside of banks and Pewex stores. Some became dealers by chance; others were “pros”, able to size up their clients at a glance, browbeat them into accepting the price offered and clinch the deal there and then. Warsaw currency dealers were not very different to those in Krakow, Poznań or Gdańsk; they could all tell straight away who was likely to have hard currency or dollar coupons to sell. They only offered 80 zloty to a dollar and upwards – the going rate at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s – to clued‑up city dwellers; the out-of-towners and country bumpkins would at best get half that.1104

In the money changer and client relationship there quickly developed a code of behavior that both sides easily got the hang of. “The sale is the most interesting part,” Radio Free Europe commented, presenting scenes from the Warsaw black market of 1950/1960, “Our interviewee accosted a tout and asked about ‘paper’. It is a bad idea to ask for dollars – it would scare the dealer away or else make him think that he was dealing with a greenhorn and up the price. If his client is fluent in black market vernacular, the money changer concludes that his client is a ‘badass’ who won’t be easily bamboozled. The client settled for 99 zloty a dollar and was then told to go to a nearby café […] and wait. As a security precaution, the dealer never carries hard currency. Meanwhile a ‘tout’ or a ‘bitch’ [a woman brought along to provide a cover] runs to the ‘banker’ to buy the required cash, paying a price that reflects for how much the ‘hack’ had sold the currency to the ‘uncle’ beforehand, which was more or less three to four points below 99 zloty (one point equaling one zloty), so that the ‘touts’ can make some money too. The ‘tout’ accompanied by the bitch’ can then deliver the dollars without raising suspicion. The transaction is conducted in secret.”1105

This author has no wish to idealize the dealers. The money changers rarely focused exclusively on money deals; they would never say no to any profitable business coming their way.1106 Some would not shy away from cheating ←337 | 338→by slipping in fake money in the last phase of the transaction (in the 1980s in Warsaw, Aleksander Gawronik – who went on to become a controversial businessman and politician, serving as senator during 1993–1997 – was cheated out of 100 000 dollars in one fell swoop1107) or by using sophisticated social engineering tricks. In the early 1970s, after a large transaction, one of the Warsaw money changers had a habit of flashing a court officer’s ID and announcing: “I am arresting you for trading hard currency”. Begging for mercy, the customer would usually be only too content to be allowed to walk away without – needless to say – his money. Another cinkciarz, in an effort to get rid of 5 000 counterfeit dollars that someone had conned him into accepting earlier, ordered a bishop’s cassock from a tailor and, thus attired, passed himself off as a bona fide trustworthy trader. At other times he would gain credibility by dressing as a railroad worker or miner.1108

Karol Ferster, I buy dollars, circa 1970. Photo: Warsaw Museum of Caricature, sign. 1247.

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It is difficult to establish today what form, if any, “corporate inspections” took in the money dealers’ world. Until the 1970s, while the money changer community was still small and compact, its members shared a certain esprit de corps and closed ranks against those who blatantly broke the accepted rules of the game. Certainly, one reason for radical exclusion and a ban on carrying on with the trade – or, in extreme cases, physical “elimination” of the undesirable individual – would be close contacts with the police and Security Service.1109

The money changers continuously developed and perfected this internal defense mechanism. It was very effective and uniformed police forces usually made no attempt to confront the hard currency underground. In the early 1970s, a police analyst observed that the money changers “do not acknowledge the presence of police. They keep a safe distance. When ordered to halt, they don’t; if chased, they run. Once the police are gone, they go back to their trading spot. The only police officers to command their respect are the dewizówka [hard currency department].”1110 But even for those specialized police units, the dealers were a tough nut to crack. Despite the fact that the police were well aware of the identity of the “bankers” and “touts” working the streets, arrests, not to mention court sentences, rarely followed. The law enforcement and justice system were often helpless in the face of hard currency black market defense strategies such as multi‑level networking, the rule of not carrying money about one’s person, money‑laundering (usually via a bank account in a bank conveniently close to the transactions taking place) but above all extreme vigilance. The dealers were at all times on high alert, ending a transaction abruptly at the slightest whiff of suspicion. Often, the money changers were as au fait as any law graduate with the intricacies of the law, especially those pertinent to hard currency policies. “Unless they catch someone red‑handed, they can’t do much,” a currency dealer from Gdańsk confided to a journalist in the early 1970s. “And catching them is not that easy. Dewizówka guys [the police unit designated for dealing with hard currency offences – JK) know almost all the dealers and often organize raids in the places where we work but we have our ways. We often have the doorman on our side and when something is up, he’ll tip us off. At that point anyone who has any compromising evidence will quickly hide it in an abandoned coat hanging for that purpose in the cloakroom and all is cool. At other times, we just pass the ←339 | 340→dollars or pounds on to friends of ours sitting at the next table, who are not in the dewizówka’s black books.”1111 In Krakow, pretzel sellers and store managers cooperated with the money dealers.1112

No wonder that the repeated operations undertaken every so often against the hard currency black marketeers brought meager results. Between April 4, 1961 and April 30, 1962, although 253 dealers were apprehended in the Warsaw hard‑currency hub around Jasna, Mazowiecka, Traugutta, and Świętokrzyska streets, only 20 investigations were embarked on, with just 13 people arrested. The low effectiveness of the police raids is apparent from the existence of repeat offenders: 15 people were arrested five times, eight people seven times, and one record breaker was arrested 13 times.1113 Between 1965 and 1969, in the Krakow voivodship including Zakopane, the police uncovered 2 781 hard currency offences, 52% of which had been committed at border crossings. However, only 51 cases against 89 individuals in total ended up in the county courts, including 22 cases (against 53 people) in Krakow itself. In 43 cases those found guilty received sentences of between two months to three years of prison and fines of 1 000 – 200 000 zloty.1114 Occasionally, the authorities tried to implement non‑standard solutions. In the early 1970s in Łódź, when dealing with the cinkciarze, the police resorted to harassment and intimidation, with arrests on charges of disorderly conduct and fines running into a few thousand zloty. Whenever the police were able to make an arrest at the time of an actual transaction taking place, the case was passed on to the Finance Department where the sanctions applied were much more severe.1115

Police and media reports made no secret of the fact that operations against money dealers were limited in their effectiveness; the culprits would pay the fines and serve prison sentences, only to return to their previous occupation with new ideas on improving the defense strategies, sometimes acquired in prison. It had been reported in Warsaw in 1962 that the “profiteers used very specific conspiracy techniques such as ways of alerting one another or ←340 | 341→organizing counter‑espionage.”1116 Following the anti‑money dealer operations in the fall of 1971, the media reported: “The cinkciarze have turned their cars into taxis. They have now more opportunities to carry out hard currency exchange. Restaurant staff are surprised that the police have not revoked the cab permits, aware as they have been of the money changers’ questionable past.”1117

The money changers’ attachment to their occupation is easy to explain. Nowhere else could they make financial gains of a similar order having, as they often did, little education and no qualifications. According to police estimates, in a month a professional money changer bought approximately 600 dollars’ worth of hard currency and with that outlay made between 15 and 20 000 zloty – almost ten times more than the average wage! If he was a shrewd operator and had a smattering of foreign languages, he could expect to achieve as much as 150 000 zloty a month – a no‑brainer.1118 Best of all, the hours were flexible; there was the risk of going to prison, true… but this went with the territory and had been taken into account. No wonder that when in 1970 the authorities yet again attempted to encourage “social parasites” (as the official classification had it) – of which there were estimated to be some 12 000 in Warsaw alone – to consider taking up lawful employment, the interviews with these candidates for self‑reform followed the familiar, less‑than‑promising pattern: “P.M., hard currency and foreign pharmaceuticals dealer; prior convictions. When asked by the Commission panel in what capacity and where he would like to work, he replied: ‘I can be a counter‑intelligence agent in space’”. “J.T., a well‑known hard currency dealer, criminal record includes numerous prior arrests. He told the Commission that he would be willing to take up any job with wages of at least 6 000 a month [an optimistic, or more likely cheeky target, bearing in mind that the average monthly wage at the time was 2 235 zloty! – comment by JK]. He has primary education and no skills.”1119

Much as the authorities might sanction or attempt to re‑socialize black market currency dealers, their attitude to this group remained ambiguous. It is difficult to establish whether officials also used the black market to buy and sell hard currency, whether institutionally or in their personal capacity, as they had in the 1940s and 1950s. In October 1969, the Chief of the Office for Combating Economic Crime Janusz Neldner, – interestingly – felt obliged to emphasize, “We are not purchasing any hard currency and gold for the Ministry of Internal ←341 | 342→Affairs, nor for the Ministry of Finance, or the NPB.”1120 We have no data to either confirm or negate the veracity of this statement. Certainly, functionaries at the Ministry of Internal Affairs had plenty of opportunity to make such purchases on their own account during the Zalew affair or as part of secret operations (such as Operation Iron).1121 One can assume, however, that – aware of their own ineffectiveness in fighting the money changers, yet recognizing the pro‑state aspect of the dealers’ activities – the authorities resigned themselves to mere surveillance. By virtue of their positioning, cinkciarze were a good source of information on foreigners who were of interest to intelligence, as well as on private entrepreneurs and, in the 1980s, also on the democratic opposition – supported financially by foreign institutions – whose members sold some of their foreign currency on the black market.

It is impossible to come to any definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of government surveillance. In 1985, the authorities boasted that they had attracted 5.7% more collaborators than in the previous year but at the same time complained about the rigid protocols limiting the range of their operations.1122 However, in the mid‑1980s it was intelligence that provided more than 88% of the “grounds for initiating an investigation”. Anonymous letters and citizens’ reports were responsible for only 2.8%.1123 The reason for such low civic participation in squealing on dealers was simple: Polish society was de facto dual‑currency and no amount of legislation could alter the status quo or diminish mass participation in currency exchange transactions. By the 1970s, the tight‑knit group of money changers with loyalty‑based gang mentality was a thing of the past. Previously, cabdrivers, waiters, and bartenders had commonly assisted in illicit hard currency operations, but now the circle of occasional participants encompassed new groups such as students or even school pupils.1124 The development of tourism encouraged people in all walks of life to engage independently in hard currency operations.

←342 | 343→

By the 1980s, all these new social players who had joined the hard currency game caused the money changers to complain about the “bunglers” spoiling their business. A bartender in one of the most elegant hotels in Warsaw told me at that time that he was one of the last links in the hard currency chain. A hard currency foreigner was usually first offered the “change money” service when still onboard the airplane or at the border and by the time he found himself at the hotel bar he would have been similarly accosted at the airport, train station, in a cab, at the hotel’s reception, and by the hotel porter. In June 1985, Warsaw police were not surprised to arrest an 80‑year old who was exchanging money and were not unduly surprised to find on this unlikely culprit approximately 14 000 dollars, 5 000 schillings, 500 West German marks, more than two million zloty, several dozen gold coins and two gold bars.1125

The money changers’ milieu continued to evolve, as attested by a 1985 police report on their social composition. Police had taken a close interest in 3 939 individuals who were engaged in illicit currency exchange. The vast majority, 2 726, were in permanent employment (the question remains whether this was their genuine status quo or merely a fake stamp in their ID document), 515 (13.1%) were retired or receiving welfare benefits, slightly fewer than 14% did not work at all and were not at school or in any other educational institution. The stereotypical image of a cinkciarz, prevalent in the post‑1989 Polish cinema, was of a flashy young man in a skimpy jacket. This image is misleading. Although police data did not record the sartorial habits of the dealers, dwelling instead on the social structure of the group, these did not correspond with the swanky, youthful perp profile. Over 27% (1 062) of the sample were women, 20% (792) were over 50 years old, just over half (50.4%/, 1 992) were between 40 and 49 and only 17% (675) were in the 25 to 29 age group.1126

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Illegal currency dealers in front of the NBP at Powstańców Warszawy Square in Warsaw, February 1990. Photo: Krzysztof Wójcik, FORUM Polish Photography Agency.

Although the late 1980s saw a spectacular boom for money changers working on the street, it was also their swan song. Their epic hard currency journey had continued successfully after Polish banks began to trade in the PKO coupons in 1987. However, the introduction of internal convertibility of the zloty in March 1989 was the beginning of the end; it marked the arrival of licensed money exchange counters, known as kantors. Some dealers perceived this development as a business opportunity and legalized their operations, moving from the street to behind the till in a kantor. Others, perhaps the majority, decided to continue their old practices, reasoning correctly that the legal kantor currency dealer would have to pay taxes. “And I won’t,” a Warsaw money dealer told a journalist, “They will have to deal with bureaucracy and I won’t. They will have the daily rate and I will have my hourly rate, they will have an hourly rate and I will do it by the minute. Walkie‑talkies will get more expensive.”1127 Although in the first few days after the opening of the first‑ever money exchange counter, the newspapers ←344 | 345→confidently forecast the “end of the fair‑weather season for the money dealers1128”, for a while they still managed to stay on top of their game: on April 5, 1989 they offered to buy dollars from the public at a much higher rate than the banks; this move effectively paralyzed the sale of US dollars in three Warsaw branches of the PKO bank.1129

In the second half of 1989, the rapidly growing inflation which soon billowed into hyper-inflation kept all those involved in currency exchange, whether legal or not, extremely busy. Those who had excess zlotys immediately exchanged them into hard currency which, unlike the national currency, kept its value, and spent it gradually as required to buy back zlotys needed for day‑to‑day expenses. In the new free market economy with a freshly deregulated banking sector that allowed public and private ownership, the money changers may have been quickly becoming a relic but they were refusing to leave the stage in a quick and orderly manner. “One can always bump into them,” a journalist from Gazeta Bankowa wrote as late as 1993, “usually in the same spots where they have been standing for years, in front of a bank or hanging around in the marketplace. They are natural competition for the money exchange counters. They allegedly offer better deals, ‘I will sell cheaper, will pay better’, but those who engage in a transaction with these characters often risk incurring a serious loss, since they are hardly model citizens. The money dealers do offer a better – but only slightly so – deal than that to be had at the official counters. Illegal dealers don’t have any overheads such as rent, or wages. Many of their clients, who for years had conducted transactions on the street, prefer to avoid coming under the spotlight of the brightly lit places. Another group of clients are visitors from the East who cannot legally take advantage of money exchange counters.”1130 Gradually cinkciarze were losing their client base; now, for the majority of customers a minimal difference in the price offered or paid was less important than the comfort and safety of the transaction to be conducted. And so the familiar cinkciarze disappeared from the streets. They stayed in the collective memory and became as much a notorious icon of communist Poland as an empty butcher’s store. The first online exchange portal opened in 2012 under the name

←345 | 346→

949 I wrote about this in the articles: Zysk i strach. Z dziejów peerelowskiej “gorączki złota”, in: Od Piłsudskiego do Wałęsy. Studia z dziejów Polski w XX wieku, ed. K. Persak et al, Warszawa 2008, pp. 276–290; and “Niepewne czasy, pewny dolar”. Szkic do obrazu warszawskiego czarnego rynku walutowego, PH, 100, 2009/1, pp. 29–46.

950 Such as “foreign legal tender, documents confirming funds and precious metals (gold, platinum)”, AAN, IPP, 123, Note on researching hard currency and smuggling crimes, 1977, fol. 4.

951 K. Madej, Wszyscy byli przemytnikami. Obraz przestępczości przemytniczej i dewizowej w latach 1956–1970, “Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość” 2008, no. 2, p. 124.

952 M.K. Wołowski, Złoto, Warszawa 1933, p. 5.

953 L. Landau, Kronika lat wojny i okupacji, vol. 2: Grudzień 1942 – czerwiec 1943, Warszawa 1962, p. 164.

954 Ibid., vol. 1–3, Warszawa 1962–1963; F. Wyszyński, Dzienniki z lat 1941–1944, ed. J. Grabowski, Z.R. Grabowski, Warszawa 2007.

955 P.L. Bernstein, The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession, Wiley 2000, p. 364; see: R.T. Naylor, The Underworld of Gold, “Crime, Law and Social Change” 25, 1996/3, pp.191–241.

956 H. Cywiński, Złoto. Skąd pochodzi, dokąd idzie?, Warszawa 1987, p. 129; R.T. Naylor, The Underworld of Gold…, p. 195.

957 P.L. Bernstein, Historia złota…, pp. 393–395.

958 A.W. Anikin, The Yellow Devil, Progress Publishers 1978, p. 74; see: T. Green, The World of Gold Today, London 1973.

959 A.W. Anikin, Yellow Devil…, p. 71.

960 On the post-war history of the dollar, see: W. Morawski Zarys powszechnej historii pieniądza i bankowości, Warszawa 2002, pp. 179–191; R. Sédillot, All the Monies of the World – a Chronicle of Currency Values; Moralna i niemoralna historia pieniądza, transl. K. Szeżyńska-Maćkowiak, Warszawa 2002, pp. 228–232. In 1995, more than half of the 375 billion dollars remaining outside the banks circulated outside of the US borders; A. Mourmouras, S.H. Russell, Smuggling, Currency Substitution and Unofficial Dolarization: A Crime-theoretic Approach, “IMF Working Paper” 00/176, October 2000, (March 10, 2014).

961 “Robotnik” 1948, no. 133; I am grateful to Andrzej Skalimowski for bringing my attention to this case.

962 R. Boyes, The Hard Road to Market, Gorbachev, the Underworld, and the Rebirth of Capitalism, London 1990, pp. 49–54. See: P.A. Wingender, Westdevisen und Devisenschwarzmärkte in sozialistischen Planwirtschaften, Stuttgart–New York 1989. On Yugoslavia: J.W. Dawson, S.W. Millsaps, M.C. Strazicich, Trend Breaks and Non-stationarity in the Yugoslav Black Market for Dollars, 1974–1987, “Applied Economics” 39, 2007/1, pp. 43–51; on Cuba: E. Facio, A.R. Roschelle, M.I. Toro‑Morn, See You in Havana!, “Peace Review” 13, 2001/1, pp. 121–127; M. Jastrząb, Kilka uwag o funkcjach walut obcych w rzeczywistości Polski Ludowej, in: Społeczeństwo PRL. Historia. Kultura. Pamięć, vol. 1: Historia, ed. S. Jankowiak, D. Skotarczak, I. Skórzyńska, Poznań 2011, pp. 143–153.

963 W. Orliński, Dzieci Pewexu. Muzeum narodowe kultury masowej, “Gazeta Wyborcza” December 20, 2000.

964 As cited in: Spojrzenie na Rosję, ed. J. Kochanowski, Warszawa 1994, pp. 15–16.

965 Ibid., pp. 20, 57.

966 A Polish engineer, Jan Błeszyński, who worked in the Soviet Union at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s had this to say about torgsins, state-run hard currency stores, where gold was also accepted in payment: “This institution could operate only in the Soviet Union, with the backdrop of apathy, slavery, and lack of social energy evident in the Russian population. If communism were established for example in France or even here, people would destroy such stores, as they would be considered a slap in the face for citizens condemned to suffering while exposed to the tantalizing sight of tasty products they were unable to buy”; ibid., p. 33.

967 AAN, URM, 5/30, fol. 46.

968 L. Chajn, Kiedy Lublin był Warszawą, Warszawa 1964, p. 144.

969 AAN, GIOS, 121, unpag.

970 AAN, URM, 5/637, fol. 1.

971 A. Bliss-Lane, Widziałem Polskę zdradzoną, Warszawa 1984, p. 91; AAN, URM, 5/638, Edward Osóbka-Morawski’s correspondence with MS, September 1946, fol. 1–3. Most European countries acted in a similar manner directly after the war. Often, the gap between the official and black market price was even larger. For example in the Soviet Union the official dollar exchange rate was 5.30 rubles whereas the black‑market rate – approximately 80, while in Austria 10 and approx. 70 schilling, and in Germany 2.50 and up to 200 marks respectively.

972 AAN, URM, 5/229, fol. 89.

973 AAN, KS, 2651.

974 Ibid.

975 Komisja Specjalna do Walki z Nadużyciami i Szkodnictwem Gospodarczym 1945–1954, ed. D. Jarosz, T. Wolsza, Warszawa 1995, pp. 9, 104.

976 AAN, KS, 2657, 2651.

977 The “utility” criteria were specified in some detail: “For example a broken wedding band or chain […] but not […] incomplete parts of a pocket watch, fragments of rings, bands, etc.”; Komunikat Narodowego Banku Polskiego w sprawie obowiązku sprzedaży walut obcych, monet złotych oraz złota i platyny, “Trybuna Ludu” November 2, 1950.

978 Ibid.

979 AIPN, 01521/2035, Jacek Oleś, Smuggling of Currency Assets, the Academy of Internal Affairs, Institute of Criminology, Warszawa 1978, p. 25; A. Jezierski, C. Leszczyńska, Historia gospodarcza Polski, Warszawa 1999, p. 537.

980 AIPN, The Ministry of Public Security, the Minister’s Office, 1572/553, fol. 249–250. 981 Ibid.

982 A. Kochański, Polska 1944–1991. Informator historyczny, vol. 1: Podział administracyjny, ważniejsze akty prawne, decyzje i enuncjacje państwowe (1944–1956), Warszawa 1996, p. 353.

983 AAN, KS, 2651. Mościcka was sentenced to pay a 1 500 zloty fine or two months of prison, Gawarecka to a 60 zloty fine or one week of prison.

984 AAN, KS, 2673.

985 The Act of 1950 forbade the ownership of hard currencies and precious metals but it penalized exclusively the legal owner. Supplementary Acts of 1952 allowed the possession of hard currency (legally owned, of course), providing this was authorized by the state. Defense lawyers interpreted this law as releasing a “person accepting foreign currencies for the purposes of storage” from the obligatory confirmation of legal ownership. Some, a clerk at the Ministry of Justice commented, use the defense line stating their innocence even when currencies are illegally owned as they claimed there is no ‘trading in currency assets’ since they do not share the ownership; AAN, MS, 3019, fol. 83.

986 AAN, KS, 1325, fol. 49.

987 Funty i dolary stałym pieniądzem w Polsce. Procesy przeciw “waluciarzom” dla zastraszenia publiczności, “Dziennik Polski” (London), no. 286/November 29, 1952.

988 APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/XVIII–7, vol. 1, fol. 60–61.

989 S.M. Korowicz, W Polsce pod sowieckim jarzmem, London 1955, pp. 235–236.

990 TL, November 10, 1956.

991 Stefan Atlas wrote in 1960: “The Bank was established in order to enable Poles living abroad to help their relatives in Poland; it allows the beneficiaries to choose from a wide range of products and delivers much needed hard currency to the state”; S. Atlas, Paragraf zero – raz jeszcze, TL, no. 145/ May 26, 1960.

992 HIM, Pressearchiv, P 612, Item 5169/57, Dollars brought from the USSR. The black‑market rate for gold. In the first six months of 1957, 35% more hard currency crime was recorded in Warsaw than in a comparable period in 1956; APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/XVIII–7, vol. 1, fol. 35.

993 W. Teliga, Czy złotówka staje się droższa, “Słowo Powszechne” March 12, 1958.

994 In 1958, law enforcement dealt with 3 524 hard currency cases, in 1959 with 1 781 and in 1960 with 1 201; AAN, NIK, 18/33, Note on economic crime in 1960, Warszawa 1961, p. 21.

995 J. Koźliński, K.W. Olszewski, Dwie stopy na złotym wybrzeżu, “Kierunki”, no. 36/ September 8, 1957.

996 A system of similar codes probably existed in all the Soviet Bloc countries. For example in the GDR, an advertisement for “blue tiles” (blaue Fliesen) meant an offer of selling or buying West German marks (hundred‑mark bills were blue); S. Sommer, Das große Lexikon des DDR‑Alltags, Berlin 2002, pp. 47–48.

997 S. Atlas, Paragraf zero – raz jeszcze, TL, no. 145/May 26, 1960.

998 L. Hochberg, Przestępstwa dewizowe w nowej ustawie karnej skarbowej, “Państwo i Prawo” 1960, no. 8/9, pp. 303–309.

999 ŻW, no. 178/July 27, 1960.

1000 All institutions had to re‑sell precious metals to the Polish Mint, where their further fate was decided.

1001 Alicja w krainie towaru, TL, December 16, 1960.

1002 AAN, Supreme Audit Office II, 19/46, fol. 59–60.

1003 Album złotych monet, eds I. Skolimowski, S. Tarko, Warszawa 1962.

1004 A. Kochański, Polska 1944–1991. Informator historyczny, vol. 2: Ważniejsze akty prawne, decyzje i enuncjacje państwowe (1957–1970), Warszawa 2000, p. 365. 1005 AIPN, KG MO, 35/1927, fol. 3–4. This idea was discussed again on the NBP’s initiative in July 1969. Once more it was decided that the “benefits of the operation would not outbalance the negative political and social repercussions”. The production of collector’s coins such as the pre‑war 10‑zloty piece with Boleslaw I the Brave was accepted as a feasible alternative; AAN, National Bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski), 8/7, Minutes of Ministry of Finance Council meeting, July 19, 1969, fol. 234.

1006 AIPN, 01521/2035, Jacek Oleś, Smuggling of currency value, The Academy of Internal Affairs, Institute of Criminology, Warszawa 1978, pp. 39–40.

1007 M. Bednarski, Drugi obieg gospodarczy. Przesłanki, mechanizmy i skutki w Polsce lat osiemdziesiątych, Warszawa 1992, p. 119.

1008 AIPN, 0296/113, vol. 3, fol. 7–8, 30, 45, 77, 100, 123, 153, 156–157; ibid., 0296/114, vol. 1, fol. 2, 4, 45, 60, 82. See: F. Szlachcic, Gorzki smak władzy. Wspomnienia, Warszawa 1990, pp. 182–184.

1009 K. Madej, Wszyscy byli przemytnikami…, p. 139.

1010 D. Stola, Kraj bez wyjścia? Migracje z Polski 19491989, Warszawa 2010, p. 301.

1011 In 1974, the black‑market average dollar exchange rate was 91 zloty, in 1975 – 105.5 zloty, in 1976 – 127 zloty, in 1977 – 141 zloty, in 1978 – between 133 and 138 zloty.

1012 AIPN, MSW II, 21052, fol. 12–13.

1013 G. Kurkiewicz, “Change money”… czyli dolary dla operatywnych, “Czas” 1978, no. 41; R. Czerniawski, Gra w zielone, PiŻ, 1983, no. 15.

1014 AAN, KC PZPR, XIA/511, fol. 12.

1015 Ibid. fol. 13.

1016 AAN, KC PZPR, XIA/472, fol. 33.

1017 AAN, KC PZPR, XIA/511, fol. 18–21.

1018 Postulaty 1970–71 i 1980. Materiały źródłowe do dziejów wystąpień pracowniczych w latach 1970–1971 i 1980 (Gdańsk i Szczecin), ed. B. Chmiel, E. Kaczyńska, Warszawa 1998, pp. 185, 186, 194, 202, 206, 209.

1019 W. J. Kostrzewa, Devisenschwarzmarkt in Polen. Seine Eigenschaften, sein Modell und seine Bedeutung für die polnische Wirtschaft, Kiel 1987, pp. 24–25. According to the estimates of the World Currency Yearbook (1984, p. 871), in 1980 alone, and just from Great Britain, three tons of gold were transferred to Poland, ibid., p. 29. In 1981 this amount was probably much larger.

1020 AAN, URM, 32/6, fol. 5.

1021 AAN, URM, 32/114, fol. 73.

1022 AAN, URM, 32/171, fol. 137. According to estimates, 40 million dollars left Poland for Turkey and 100 million dollars left for West Germany with the goal of importing goods, W.J. Kostrzewa, Devisenschwarzmarkt in Polen…, p. 25.

1023 M. Gruszczyński, M. Stokłosa, Efektywność nieoficjalnego rynku walutowego w Polsce w latach 1982–1989, “Bank i Kredyt” 37, 2006, p. 39.

1024 W.J. Kostrzewa, Devisenschwarzmarkt in Polen…, pp. 29–30; W Warszawie płacą dolarami, “Veto” 1985, nr 41.

1025 W.J. Kostrzewa, Devisenschwarzmarkt in Polen…, pp. 24–25.

1026 AIPN, KG MO, 35/554, fol. 40.

1027 Ibid., fol. 46, 50.

1028 Ibid., fol. 82–83.

1029 M. Bednarski, Drugi obieg gospodarczy…, p. 120.

1030 See: D. Stola, Kraj bez wyjścia?…

1031 Propozycje działań zmierzających do zmniejszenia czarnorynkowego kursu walut obcych, NBP, Warszawa, May 1987 (I am grateful to Grzegorz Sołtysiak for sharing this material).

1032 J. Nieporowski, Raj dla cinkciarzy, “Tygodnik Kulturalny”, no. 14/April 3, 1988; see: J.S. Jóźwiak, Cinkciarz prezesa, ibid., no. 29/July 17, 1988.

1033 P. Pytlakowski, Krótki spacer Gawronika, “Polityka”, no. 46/November 19, 2005.

1034 P. Tarnowski, Rok dolara, “Polityka”, no. 51/52/December 23–30, 1989.

1035 Post‑war finds testify to the extent of the storage of value. For example in early May 1947, four people found approximately 35 kg of gold in a destroyed building at Nowy Swiat 64, which they shared among themselves. Once the Special Commission had been put in charge of recovering hidden treasures, in March 1948 it hauled in 2 269 five ruble coins, 1 112 ten ruble coins, 84 fifteen ruble coins, and eight coins to the value of 7.50 rubles, two twenty‑dollar coins and several dozen assorted gold items; AAN, KS, 808. These were not isolated cases (see: AAN, KS, 2656).

1036 K. Wyka, Życie na niby, Kraków 2010, p. 256.

1037 AAN, KS, 2651.

1038 AAN, URM, 5/637, GIOS do PRM, March 6, 1947, fol. 6.

1039 AAN, KS, 2651. The rise in black‑market gold and currencies was the most marked in Warsaw; this siphoned off dollars from other cities. AAN, KS, 1289, Documentation in the case against Abraham Danziger.

1040 ODZP TVP, Newsletter of Radio Committee Letter Office, 1050/3, no. 75, September 30, 1952.

1041 HIM, Pressearchiv, P 6211, Item 8798/56. Foreign exchange trade flourished. The case of a family doctor from Tuliszków near Konin shows that hoarding valuables was ingrained and socially acceptable in provincial Poland. In August 1977, he was arrested for buying scrap gold and 1 279 dollars, as well as taking part in other, much larger transactions. Soon, the prosecutor office and Voivodship Party committee received letters signed by hundreds of Tuliszków community residents demanding the release of the doctor. The letters emphasized that he was an “honest and diligent” citizen, indispensable to the community. In the local church, a mass was celebrated for a “positive outcome” of the doctor’s case; AAN, KC PZPR, WO, 3095, fol. 5.

1042 J. Tetter, Wolność, złoto i hazard, “Tygodnik Morski” 1967, no. 19. Not much had changed by the end of the 1970s. “Part of smuggled gold goes literally ’into the ground’ as a ‘rainy day’ backup. The owner often lives frugally and sometimes dies before divulging his secret to anyone. Recently, employees of one of the voivodship police headquarters seized 12 kg of smuggled gold buried by a vegetable stall owner”; A. Kłodzińska, Wyprawa po złote runo, ŻW, January 25, 1979.

1043 AAN, KC PZPR, 237/XIV–305, fol. 45.

1044 AAN, IPP, 123, fol. 8v. Professionals such as lawyers, physicians, and dentists commonly used gold as a store of value. See: J. Niczyporowicz, Ballada do żółtego kruszcu, PiŻ, 1978, no. 17.

1045 AAN, KC PZPR, XI/775, April 1970, fol. 25–26; AIPN, 0296/66, vol. 2, Notes on public mood, fol. 67, 84, 92. Another indication was the growing volume of gold seized at the border. In 1968, custom officials found 93.5 kg gold bullion, bars, and jewelry, but in 1969 – almost 162 kg; AIPN, 01521/876, vol. 1, Bogdan Chybowski, Nielegalny skup dewiz (Taktyka ujawniania i zwalczania). Departament Szkolenia i Doskonalenia Zawodowego MSW, Warszawa 1973, p. 11.

1046 AIPN, KG MO, 35/1740.

1047 AIPN, MSW II, 1149, fol. 1–3, 6–7.

1048 AIPN, MSW II, 10780, fol. 40–41.

1049 AIPN, KG MO, 35/554, fol. 25.

1050 AAN, URM, 5/229, fol. 61. A similar strategy was implemented during forced migrations such as the resettlement of the Germans. Since they were not allowed to leave the country with hard currency and precious metals, they tried to hide them. In 1946 the Polish authorities issued guidance to border crossings on the hiding places most frequently used by the resettling Germans (such as buckets, suitcases, strollers, toys and pipes); Archiwum Państwowe w Gdańsku, Oddział w Gdyni, Dyrekcja Ceł, 91/123.

1051 AMSZ, z. 6, w. 42, vol. 668, fol. 7, 8; Polska – Niemcy Wschodnie 1945–1990. Wybór dokumentów, ed. J. Kochanowski, K. Ziemer, vol. 1: Polska wobec radzieckiej strefy okupacyjnej Niemiec: maj 1945 – październik 1949, ed. J. Kochanowski, A. Krajewski, M. Mazurek, Warszawa 2006, pp. 115–116.

1052 AAN, URM, 5/229, fol. 63. Since gold jewelry could be legally taken out of Poland, gold coins were often made into rings or bracelets; ibid., fol. 90.

1053 See: D. Stola, Kraj bez wyjścia?…

1054 HIM, Pressearchiv, P 612, RFE-Research, Item 5169/57, Dollars brought from the USSR: The pricing of black‑market gold. ibid., P 6211, RFE‑Research, Item 5594/57, History of the dollar black market in Poland. Just a single issue of the “Biuletyn Szkoleniowy” GUC (no. 37/July 1967) provides many examples of individuals emigrating to West Germany, Israel, and France smuggling out of Poland hard currencies and gold bullion and jewelry.

1055 K. Madej, Wszyscy byli przemytnikami…, p. 127.

1056 AAN, KC PZPR, WA, LI/18, fol. 10.

1057 M. Osiadacz, Bankier Podhala, PiŻ, May 28, 1972; S.A. Siwek, “Bankier Podhala” i spółka…, “Słowo Powszechne”, no 225/September 20, 1973.

1058 Z. Tarnowska, Oczarowanie złotem, “Odgłosy” 1973, no. 37; see: F. Graboś, Dewizowe podziemie, PiŻ, 1965, no. 18.

1059 AIPN, MSW II, 4368, fol. 109.

1060 “Visitors from Warsaw,” the writer Marek Nowakowski reminisced, “stayed in Budapest for months at a time, networking, buying forints and swapping them for dollars, and even along the way picking up a little, notoriously difficult, Hungarian…; M. Nowakowski, Moja Warszawa. Powidoki, Warszawa 2010, pp. 131–132.

1061 On March 27, 1965 in Warsaw, Smoliński was sentenced to nine years in prison and 12 of his closest collaborators were also found guilty. Their educational and employment backgrounds are interesting. The boss had completed only three grades of vocational school, three persons graduated from secondary schools, nine – from primary school, with or without a certificate. The group included a manager of a shoe kiosk, a driver, railroad employees, a blue‑collar worker from the League of Nature Conservation, two locksmiths, a nurse, and four unemployed persons; AIPN, MSW II, 4370, fol. 123–125.

1062 AAN, KC PZPR, 237/XIV–305, fol. 45.

1063 B. Seidler, Krach wyznawców Midasa, “Życie Literackie” February 4, 1976; B. Wróblewski, Złotogłowi. Największe złoto Polski Ludowej, “Gazeta Wyborcza” (supplement “Ale Historia”), September 28, 2012.

1064 AAN, GUC, 2/18, fol. 221.

1065 AIPN, 01521/2035, Jacek Oleś, Przemyt wartości dewizowych, Academy of Internal Affairs, Institute of Criminology, Warszawa 1978, pp. 45, 54–56.

1066 J. Kulak, O przemycie w Urzędzie Celnym Port Lotniczy w Warszawie – uwag kilka, WC, 1974, no. 15, p. 13.

1067 AIPN, MSW II, 4369; F. Graboś, Dewizowe podziemie, PiŻ, 1965, no. 18, fol. 233.

1068 J. Koczorowski, O wynikach zwalczania przemytu w 1971 roku, WC, 1972, no. 6, p. 25. 1069 AAN, URM, 1.2/1, fol. 18.

1070 Ibid., fol. 20.

1071 APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/XVIII–7, vol. 1, fol. 445.

1072 Byli reprezentanci w brydżu sportowym przed sądem, “Głos Wielkopolski” October 17, 1973; Brydżowy nokaut, “Wieczór Wybrzeża” July 30, 1973; J. Kołodziejski, Nokaut brydżowy, PiŻ, 1973, no. 17; J. Kołodziejski, Przemytnicy i kibice, PiŻ, 1973, no. 34; K. Jagiełło, Wszystkiego za mało, “Literatura” 1973, no 40.

1073 Stefania Biegun was found guilty of smuggling 25 kg of gold in bars, more than 300 gold coins, 4 kg of jewelry, 47 kg of silver, and approximately 53 000 dollars; TL, no. 100/April 11, 1973; ŻW, April 12, 1973.

1074 AIPN, MSW II, 97, fol. 1.

1075 AIPN, MSW II, 4369, fol. 120–121; ibid., 4370, fol. 89.

1076 AAN, KC PZPR, XIA/511, fol. 9–10.

1077 APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/VII–43, vol. 49, fol. 68–69.

1078 B. Seidler, Krach wyznawców Midasa, “Życie Literackie” February 4, 1976.

1079 B. Kołodziejski, “Złote ptaki” z Kopenhagi, “Dziennik Łódzki” February 28, 1973; B. Kołodziejski, Tragarz z lotniska Kastrup, “Kurier Szczeciński” March 21, 1973. 1080 M. Bekajło, Doigrałeś się amatorze, “Życie Literackie” 1971, no. 23; APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/VII–43, vol. 49, fol. 68–69.

1081 K. Świątecka, Waluciarze, “Perspektywy” 1977, no. 49.

1082 J. Tetter, Wolność, złoto i hazard, “Tygodnik Morski” 1967, no. 19. In the mid-1960s the price of an American 20‑dollar gold coin in Swiss banks oscillated between 42 and 44 dollars, while in Poland the going rate was 54 dollars. The profit of 25% was a given; AIPN, MSW II, 4369, fol. 120.

1083 J. Kulak, O przemycie w Urzędzie Celnym Port Lotniczy w Warszawie – uwag kilka, WC, 1974, no. 15, p. 12.

1084 AAN, KC PZPR, WO, 541, fol. 50–52.

1085 Kurier Polski”, no 260/November 3, 1959; ibid., no. 156/July 2/3, 1960; ibid., no. 79/ April 3, 1962; AAN, KC PZPR, WA, 275, fol. 35.

1086 J. Nieporowski, Raj dla cinkciarzy, “Tygodnik Kulturalny”, no. 14/April 3, 1988.

1087 By 1957, the term had appeared in a Gdynia Security Service report, AIPN Gd. 0046/158/2, fol. 170.

1088 T. Kur, Gorzki smak miodu, PiŻ, 1968, no. 7; M. Brzeszczot, Konie, koniki i białe kołnierzyki, PiŻ, 1971, no. 10.

1089 This was mostly an urban phenomenon; its presence in resort towns such as Zakopane and Sopot was the exception rather than the rule. According to police estimates from 1985, of the 3 939 persons suspected of dealing in hard currency, 89.8% (3 537) lived in cities; of which 40% (1 471) – in larger cities with at least 200 000 inhabitants; AIPN, KG MO, 35/554. In Zakopane, in early 1970s, there were approximately 180 local black‑market currency dealers and 250 from other regions of the country, while in Szczecin there were some 300, and in Krakow – 370; J. Wołoszańska, Nie tylko przez pryzmat prawa, ŻW, April 22, 1971; APKr, KW PZPR, 293, Posiedzenie egzekutywy, October 14, 1969, fol. 247.

1090 Cf.: A. Valcini, Ballo all’hotel”Polonia”, Edizioni del Moretto, Brescia 1983. In her diaries, Maria Dąbrowska mentions the Kelles-Krauz family, who made a living in Radom by “manufacturing soap and selling UNRRA gifts and hard currencies”. “In the morning,” Dąbrowska noted on November 12, 1945, “the other Krauz daughter arrived; she sells hard currencies. […] She is the one who wears the trousers in the family and makes the most money.” M. Dąbrowska, Dzienniki powojenne, vol. 1: 1945–1949, ed. T. Drewnowski, Warszawa 1997, p. 85.

1091 AAN, KS, 1303. On other jewelry stores see ibid., 1274, 2646.

1092 HIM, Pressearchiv, P 6211, RFE-Research, Item 87/56, Foreign exchange trade flourished.

1093 Ibid., Item 5594/57, History of the Polish black market in dollars.

1094 Ibid.

1095 Ibid.

1096 AIPN, 01521/2035, J. Oleś, Przemyt wartości dewizowych…, p. 60.

1097 A. Kłodzińska, Waluciarze, ŻW, April 10–12, 1971.

1098 Why did the smuggling of synthetic gemstones to Poland take off? From October 1967, the state jeweler Jubiler was permitted to buy and sell second‑hand jewelry and watches, fetching a much higher price per weight of precious metals than for minted coins. It made sense to melt down the gold bullion brought to Poland illegally and turn it into pieces of jewelry such as rings – and these often required stones. A four‑ducat coin yielded four rings. Even after adding the cost of the synthetic stone and labor, and providing the hallmark, in the early 1970s the profit was as much as 9 000 zloty. A Krugerrand provided enough gold for ten rings, with a potential profit of 12 000 zloty; AIPN, 01521/2035, J. Oleś, Przemyt wartości dewizowych…, pp. 51–53. In 1973, the police closed down 37 illegal jewelry manufactories; AIPN, KG MO, 35/289, Biuletyn Instruktażowo-szkoleniowy no. 6, Biuro do Walki z Przestępstwami Gospodarczymi KG MO, Warszawa, February 1974.

1099 Książę warszawskich waluciarzy przyznaje się do winy, “Kurier Polski”, no. 208/ September 3–4, 1966.

1100 AIPN, MSW II, 4370, fol. 222–224. On Rzeszotarski see J. Karaszkiewicz, Słodkie lata, “Gazeta Wyborcza” May 15, 1998; J. Głowacki, Z głowy, Warszawa 2004, pp. 29–31.

1101 “Dziennik Polski” (London), no 151/August 12, 1976; P. Ambroziewicz, Historia wzlotu i upadku Bolka-kelnera, PiŻ, December 26, 1976.

1102 P. Ambroziewicz, Historia wzlotu i upadku Bolka-kelnera, PiŻ, December 26, 1976.

1103 HIM, Pressearchiv, P 6211, RFE-Research, Item 2794/60, Illegal currency transactions flourished in Poland.

1104 Sometimes the transactions were very advantageous. From a member of the Glen Miller Orchestra visiting the Polish capital , a Warsaw tout managed to buy a sizeable number of dollar bills at 27 zloty each – a rate that was three zloty more than the official rate at the bank; HIM, Pressearchiv, P 612, Item 5169/57, Dollars brought from USSR. The black market rate for gold.

1105 HIM, Pressarchiv, P 6211, RFE-Research, Item 2794/60, Illegal currency transactions flourished in Poland.

1106 See: P. Wojasz, Niebieski ptak. Absurdy peerelowskiej rzeczywistości we wspomnieniach byłego cinkciarza, Chorzów 2011.

1107 P. Mączyński, L. Kostrzewski, Przed mafią pistolet by mnie nie ochronił. Wywiad z Gawronikiem, “Gazeta Wyborcza” June 29, 2009. On ways of cheating clients see: AIPN, 01521/876, vol. 1, Bogdan Chybowski, Nielegalny skup dewiz (Taktyka ujawniania zwalczania). Departament Szkolenia i Doskonalenia Zawodowego MSW, Warszawa 1973, pp. 86–89.

1108 “Express Wieczorny” March 11, 1973.

1109 K.W. Dębicki, Komu zielone, komu…, “Tygodnik Morski” 1973, no 38; Na nasze konto. Rozmowa Wojciecha Koczanowicza z naczelnikiem wydziału w Biurze do Walki z Przestępstwami Gospodarczymi KG MO mjr. Janem Stępniem, “Sztandar Młodych” October 5, 1979.

1110 AIPN, 01521/876, vol. 1, B. Chybowski, Nielegalny skup dewiz…, p. 80.

1111 K.W. Dębicki, Komu zielone, komu…, “Tygodnik Morski” 1973, no. 38. A common ploy was to use a “pocket” – which was a “briefcase stored by a friendly cloakroom or restroom attendant”. When the need arose, this supply of emergency cash could be accessed rapidly; the main rule was that a dealer should carry no more than a minimum amount of cash; R. Czerniawski, Gra w zielone, PiŻ, 1983, no. 15.

1112 ”Gazeta Krakowska”, no. 26/January 31, 1973.

1113 APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/VII–43, vol. 1, fol. 306–307.

1114 APKr, KW PZPR, 293, fol. 247.

1115 Nie ma miejsca dla dolarowych “koników” przed łódzkim PeKaO, “Express Wieczorny”, no. 147/June 24, 1970.

1116 APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/VII–43, vol. 1, fol. 306–307.

1117 AIPN, 0296/114, vol. 1, fol. 2, 9.

1118 AIPN, 01521/876, vol. 1, B. Chybowski, Nielegalny skup dewiz…, p. 76.

1119 APW, KWar. PZPR, 30/XVIII–7, vol. 1, fol. 400–405.

1120 APKr, KW PZPR, 293, fol. 217.

1121 K. Madej, Wszyscy byli przemytnikami…; J. Morawski, Złota afera, Warszawa 2007; Raport z działalności Komisji powołanej dla wyjaśnienia charakteru operacji kryptonim “Żelazo”, ed. P. Gontarczyk, “Glaukopis” 7–8, 2007, pp. 233–271.

1122 AIPN, KG MO, 35/554, fol. 45–47. There is no doubt that former police and security service employees were part of the group. In 1969 in Krakow there were at least five among local money dealers (“which does hinder surveillance”), and four ex‑functionaries “broke off criminal involvement with touts after preventive/ repressive actions had been directed against them”; APKr, KW PZPR, 293, fol. 250.

1123 AIPN, KG MO, 35/554.

1124 Na nasze konto…, “Sztandar Młodych” October 5, 1979.

1125 AAN, URM, 32/172, fol. 49.

1126 AIPN, KG MO, 35/554, k. 45–47. We do not have reliable data allowing comparisons with earlier periods. Some insight was provided by a 1969 survey of 78 Krakow touts, their number unchanged since the late 1950s. Of these, 74.3% – including 10 retirees – had no jobs; the others worked periodically. A majority (47) had completed secondary education, with or without a certificate, and another 27 – primary education, with or without a certificate; there are no gender data, the inference being that the touts were all males. APKr, KW PZPR, 293, fol. 249–250. According to the handbook for MSW and MO functionaries, published in 1973, money dealers were usually “in their prime, between 19 and 40, with primary or incomplete secondary education. Approximately 60% do not work, others perform odd jobs”; AIPN, 01521/876, vol. 1, B. Chybowski, Nielegalny skup dewiz…, pp. 77–78.

1127 Nie pójdą na zieloną trawkę, PiŻ, 1989, no. 2.

1128 Kurier Polski” March 21, 1989.

1129 Czarny wtorek na walutowym rynku, ŻW, no. 260/November 8, 1989; see: M. Smogorzewski, Nim bank się ocknie – cinkciarz zarobi, “Gazeta Wyborcza” July 4, 1989.

1130 A. Zeibel, Zielone okienka, “Gazeta Bankowa” December 10, 1993.