Polish government in exile

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Polish government in exile
Coat of arms of the Republic of Poland
President in exile
Władysław Raczkiewicz
(from September 1939 to June 1947)
Government in exile
Government representation in the country
Polish Socialist Party , Social Democrats
Polish People's Party , Peasant Party
National Party , National Democrats
Labor Party , Christian Democrats
Polish armed forces in the west
Polish Home Army

The Polish government in exile was constituted in October 1939 after the German and Soviet invasion of the Second Polish Republic as the legitimate successor to the Polish government interned in Romania . The first seat of government was Paris , later Angers . Shortly before the surrender of France in June 1940, it chose London as its seat from which to move from among other things. to coordinate the Polish armed forces in the west .

As a result of the German attack on the Soviet Union, it negotiated the Sikorski-Maiski Agreement in July 1941 , which led to the creation of the Anders Army , which was transferred via Iran to the Middle East in March 1942 and placed under the British Middle East Command.

She left the anti-Hitler coalition in July 1945 when the United States and Great Britain recognized the People's Republic of Poland .

Recognition by other states

The German Reich took the position that the Polish state ceased to exist through the German-Soviet border and friendship treaty of September 28, 1939.

After the mass graves were found near Katyn in 1943 , the Polish government in exile called for public clarification. The Soviet Union then issued an ultimatum to the USA and Great Britain that the government-in-exile should withdraw the demand for an international commission to be sent to Katyn. Despite attempts to mediate, Stalin declared in April 1943 that relations with Poland's government-in-exile had broken off and were unwilling to accept the ultimatum in full. With that she was isolated in the anti-Hitler coalition.

In the course of the Vistula-Oder operation , the Red Army captured large parts of Poland in 1944. As the provisional government of Poland, the Soviet Union now supported the Lublin Committee . After the end of the war, the government-in-exile no longer exercised any governmental power, instead the People's Republic of Poland was proclaimed. On 5th / 6th In July 1945 the USA and Great Britain withdrew diplomatic recognition from the government in exile .

Most recently, only Portugal (until the fall of the Caetano regime in 1974), Ireland (until 1976), Francoist Spain (until 1977) and the Vatican State (until 1989) recognized the Polish government in exile. It was mainly maintained as a symbol of Polish independence. After the presidential election in Poland in 1990 , which produced Lech Wałęsa as president and a Polish government under Jan Bielecki , it dissolved.

In France (September 1939-June 1940)

The Prime Minister and Commander in Chief Władysław Sikorski , around 1942

On September 25, 1939, the Polish President Ignacy Mościcki appointed the ambassador to Italy , Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski , as his successor. However, at the insistence of the French government, he refused and so Władysław Raczkiewicz was appointed the first Polish president in exile before the government in exile was formed. This appointed the officer Władysław Sikorski as prime minister and commander in chief of the exile armed forces.

On December 18, 1939, the government passed a declaration containing the goals of the government-in-exile:

Many Polish soldiers were able to escape from Poland via Hungary, Romania or the Baltic Sea. A large part of the fleet also managed to escape across the Baltic Sea. On January 4, 1940, a Polish-French military agreement was concluded. In the spring of 1940 the 1st Polish Grenadier Division, the 10th Tank Brigade, the 1st Polish Infantry Division and the Podhale Rifle Brigade were established.

In England (from June 1940)

On June 17, 1940, shortly before France's surrender, the government-in-exile accepted Churchill's invitation and moved its headquarters to London. On June 19, General Władysław Sikorski gave a radio address to the Polish soldiers and volunteers in France to make their way to England.

On August 5, 1940, a Polish-British military agreement was concluded, which enabled the Poles to form their own armed forces in Great Britain. The 1st Polish Armored Division and the 1st Polish Paratrooper Brigade were set up.

On September 29th, the Polish Victory Service , Służba Zwycięstwu Polski , was established, the forerunner of the Polish Home Army . It was subordinated to the government agency in the country , which was founded in the same year.

General Władysław Anders , before 1939

After the German invasion of the Soviet Union , the Sikorski-Maiski Agreement was signed on July 30, 1941 at the initiative of the British government . This agreed an exchange of ambassadors with the Soviet Union and the joint continuation of the fight against Germany. The unresolved border issue between the Soviet Union and Poland was eliminated with the help of the Foreign Office through a compromise formulation for the war period, in which the Soviet Union issued a declaration that the Hitler-Stalin Pact had lost its validity. On August 12, 1941, hundreds of thousands of captured Poles were given amnesty in the Soviet Union, and on August 14, a Polish-Soviet military agreement was concluded that enabled the prisoners to be used to form Polish armed forces in the Soviet Union. Its commander was General Władysław Anders , who was released from prison in the Soviet Union . On November 30th, General Władysław Sikorski came to Moscow to negotiate with Stalin about the evacuation of these forces to Iran , which eventually led to the evacuation of well over 25,000 Poles from the Soviet Union. The 2nd Polish Corps emerged from these soldiers .

The Poles noticed that the officers who had been in the Koselsk , Ostashkow and Starobelsk camps were missing . Sikorski's questions about these officers were answered with hesitant excuses by Stalin and Soviet officials. The solution to the border issues was also addressed several times and remained unresolved. At the beginning of 1943 Poland's relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated again. The Soviet Union declared all residents of the Polish territories it occupied, which it had assigned to Belarus and Ukraine , to be citizens of the Soviet Union. This meant that further conflicts with Poland's new ally were foreseeable. In addition, at the beginning of 1943, on behalf of Stalin, Polish communists founded the Union of Polish Patriots in the USSR as a political partner for post-war Poland between the Oder and Curzon lines, and from March 1, 1943 they published their own newspaper called Das Freie Polen . That happened two months before the German announcement of the Katyn massacre .

After the announcement of the German discoveries in Katyn on April 13, 1943, the Polish government-in-exile publicly called on April 15 for the unconditional investigation of the Katyn massacre from the Soviet Union and stated that it had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to conduct an investigation in Katyn perform. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, announced to the world public that the murders had been committed by the Germans. She accused the Polish government of being an ally of the Germans and acting in coordination with them. On April 24, 1943, Stalin ultimately demanded in letters of identical content to Roosevelt and Churchill that the Polish government-in-exile withdraw the application to the Red Cross. Churchill then urged Poland to resolve the conflict on a consultative basis and to refrain from public clarification in the interests of the alliance. The Polish government could hardly agree, but told Churchill that it would not appeal to the International Red Cross.

Despite requests from Roosevelt and Churchill not to do so, on April 25, 1943, Stalin declared the severance of relations with Poland. In doing so, he isolated Poland's government-in-exile in the anti-Hitler coalition and set the course for a communist post-war Poland, regardless of Western interests.

As a result, the Polish resistance groups that had been formed since October 1939, as well as the representatives of four democratic parties in exile, quickly agreed on the common post-war goal of a non-communist, independent Poland with the eastern border agreed in the Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 . In August 1943 they ruled out any cooperation with the Soviet Union, the Polish communists and right-wing national parties in Poland.

It was now difficult for the government-in-exile to have a say in events in Poland; it was clear that Poland would be liberated not by the Western Allies but by the Red Army and that Stalin would set up a post-war Polish government according to his ideas. Nevertheless, Stanisław Mikołajczyk resigned from his office in London in November 1944 and made himself available as deputy head of government in Warsaw; later he went to the United States.

On July 6, 1945, after the end of the war and shortly before the start of the Potsdam Conference on July 17, the allies USA and Great Britain withdrew the recognition of the government in exile. The 1st Polish Corps was stationed in Germany in the Polish zone of occupation until 1947 as an occupying power in the Emsland .

The post-war years (1945–1990)

Coat of arms of the government in exile from 1956–1990

Ireland , Spain , Cuba and the Vatican were the last states to recognize the Polish government in exile.

Since the Potsdam Agreement postponed a peace treaty with Germany for an indefinite period, the political circles in exile (behind which there were at least a few million emigrants and many millions at home) in the West saw themselves as entitled to the office of president and a shadow government as symbols of the Polish To keep independence.

In 1954, after covert CIA operations in Poland became known (financial and logistical support of the WiN in exchange for secret information from the People's Republic of Poland ), the government in exile broke up; 80% of the anti-communist Poles in exile in Great Britain refused to do so to President August Zaleski Support and sided with the Council of Three , which existed until Zaleski's death in 1972.

Exiled presidents:

The President's residence was in London's posh Chelsea neighborhood at 43 Eaton Place; Not far from there is the Polish Institute with a museum and documentation center.

On December 22, 1990, the last President of the Polish government-in-exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, handed over the insignia of the Presidency of the Second Polish Republic (pre-war Poland ) to the new, democratically elected President of Poland , Lech Wałęsa .

See also


  • Detlef Brandes : Great Britain and its Eastern European allies 1939–1943. The governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in exile in London from the outbreak of war to the Tehran Conference (=  publications of the Collegium Carolinum. Vol. 59). Oldenbourg, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-486-54531-0 , pp. 25-29.
  • Anna M. Cienciala , Natalia S. Lebedeva, Wojciech Materski (eds.): Katyn. A Crime Without Punishment. Yale University Press, New Haven CT 2007, ISBN 978-0-300-10851-4 .
  • Jósef Garliński: Poland in the Second World War. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 1985, ISBN 0-333-39258-2 .
  • Marianne Gyger: In the field of tension between the great powers and the underground movement: The Polish government-in-exile in London during the Second World War. Efforts by the Polish government-in-exile to maintain democratic structures in post-war Poland. From the breakdown of Polish-Soviet relations in the summer of 1943 to the consequences of the Yalta Conference in 1945 (=  Bern research on the latest general and Swiss history. Vol. 2). Traugott Bautz, Nordhausen 2005, ISBN 3-88309-244-4 (also: Bern, Historical Institute, licentiate thesis, 2003).

Individual evidence

  1. Garlinski, p. 17 f.
  2. Cienciala, Lebedeva, Materski (eds.): Katyn. A Crime Without Punishment. 2007, p. 208 f.
  3. ^ Klaus Zernack : Poland and Russia. Two ways in European history (=  Propylaea history of Europe. Supplementary Bd.). Propylaen Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-549-05471-8 , pp. 455-457; Cienciala, Lebedewa, Materski: Katyn. A Crime Without Punishment. 2007, p. 216 f.
  4. Cienciala, Lebedeva, Materski (eds.): Katyn. A Crime Without Punishment. 2007, p. 218 f.
  5. ^ Jochen Laufer: Pax Sovietica. Stalin, the Western Powers and the German Question 1941–1945 (=  Zeithistorische Studien. Vol. 46). Böhlau, Cologne [a. a.] 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20416-7 , p. 309 .

Web links