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Polish government-in-exile

The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as

the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile
(Polish: Rzd Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na uchodstwie),
was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939,
and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which brought to an end the
Second Polish Republic.

ter the conclusion of peace; the President of

the Republic shall then, by a special act promulgated in the Ocial Gazette, appoint his
successor, in case the oce falls vacant before
the conclusion of peace. Should the Presidents
successor assume oce, the term of his oce
shall expire at the end of three months after the
conclusion of peace.[5]

Despite the occupation of Poland by hostile powers,

the government-in-exile exerted considerable inuence in
Poland during World War II through the structures of the
Polish Underground State and its military arm, the Armia
Krajowa (Home Army) resistance. Abroad, under the authority of the government-in-exile, Polish military units
that had escaped the occupation fought under their own
commanders as part of Allied forces in Europe, Africa,
and the Middle East.

It was not until 29th[6] or 30th[4][5][7] September 1939

that Mocicki resigned. Raczkiewicz, who was already
in Paris, immediately took his constitutional oath at the
Polish Embassy and became President of the Republic of
Poland. He then appointed General Wadysaw Sikorski
to be Prime Minister[7][8] and, following Edward Rydzmigy's stepping down,[9] made Sikorski Commanderin-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces.[8][9]
Most of the Polish Navy escaped to Britain,[10] and tens of
thousands of Polish soldiers and airmen escaped through
Hungary and Romania or across the Baltic Sea to continue the ght in France.[11] Many Poles subsequently
took part in Allied operations in Norway (Narvik<ref
name=""Poles1">The Poles on the Battlefronts of the Second World War Bellona 2005 Page 29</ref>), France,
the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, North
Africa (notably Tobruk<ref name=""Poles0">The Poles
on the Battlefronts of the Second World War Bellona 2005
Page 37</ref>), Italy (notably at Cassino and Ancona),
Arnhem, Wilhelmshaven and elsewhere beside other Allied forces. Even after the fall of Poland, Poland remained the third strongest Allied belligerent, after France
and Britain. After Germany terminated its 1939 alliance
with the Soviets in June 1941, with Hitlers attack on Soviet forces occupying eastern Poland, Polish forces grew
yet again as all of Polands citizens held captive in Soviet
forced labour were released under the SikorskiMayski
Agreement to form military units to ght Nazi Germany
under Allied command.

After the war, as the Polish territory came under the

control of the Peoples Republic of Poland, a Soviet
satellite state, the government-in-exile remained in existence, though largely unrecognized and without eective
power. Only after the end of Communist rule in Poland
did the government-in-exile formally pass on its responsibilities to the new government of the Third Polish Republic in December 1990.
The government-in-exile was based in France during
1939 and 1940, rst in Paris and then in Angers. From
1940, following the Fall of France, the government
moved to London, and remained in England until its dissolution in 1990.



On 17 September 1939, the President of the Polish Republic, Ignacy Mocicki, who was then in the small
town of Kuty (now Ukraine)[1][2][3] near the southern
Polish border, issued a proclamation about his plan to
transfer power and appointing Wadysaw Raczkiewicz,
the Speaker of the Senate, as his successor.[1][2] This
was done in accordance with Article 24[4][5] of the
Constitution of the Republic of Poland, adopted in April
1935,[4][6] which provided as follows:

1.2 Wartime history

Main article: History of Poland (193945)
The Polish Government in Exile, based rst in Paris, then
Angers[12] and then in London, was recognized by all
the Allied governments. Politically, it was a coalition of
the Polish Peasant Party, the Polish Socialist Party, the
Labour Party and the National Party,[6] although these

In event of war, the term of the Presidents

oce shall be prolonged until three months af1


Polish Government in Exile established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union,[13][14] despite Stalins role in
the earlier dismemberment of Poland. Hundreds of thousands of Polish soldiers who had been taken prisoner by
the Soviets in eastern Poland in 1939, and many civilian
Polish prisoners and deportees, were released[15] and allowed to form military units (the "Anders Army"); they
were evacuated to Iran and the Middle East, where they
were desperately needed by the British, hard pressed by
Rommels Afrika Korps. These Polish units formed the
basis for the Polish II Corps, led by General Wadysaw
Anders, which together with other, earlier-created Polish
units fought alongside the Allies.
During the war, especially from 1942 on, the Polish Government in Exile provided the Allies with some of the
earliest and most accurate accounts of the ongoing Holocaust of European Jews[16][17] and, through its representatives, like the Foreign Minister Count Edward Raczyski
and the courier of the Polish Underground movement, Jan
Karski, called for action, without success, to stop it.

Wadysaw Sikorski, rst Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile.

In April 1943, the Germans announced that they had discovered at Katyn Wood, near Smolensk, Russia, mass
graves of 10,000 Polish ocers[18][19] (the German investigation later found 4,443 bodies[20] ) who had been taken
prisoner in 1939 and murdered by the Soviets. The Soviet government said that the Germans had fabricated the
discovery. The other Allied governments, for diplomatic
reasons, formally accepted this; the Polish Government
in Exile refused to do so.
Stalin then severed relations with the Polish Government
in Exile. Since it was clear that it would be the Soviet Union, not the western Allies, who would liberate
Poland from the Germans, this breach had fateful consequences for Poland. In an unfortunate coincidence, Sikorski, widely regarded as the most capable of the Polish
exile leaders, was killed in an air crash at Gibraltar in
July 1943.[21] He was succeeded as head of the Polish
Government in Exile by Stanisaw Mikoajczyk.

The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland,

note from the Republic of Poland addressed to United Nations,

parties maintained only a vestigial existence in the circumstances of exile.

When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the

During 1943 and 1944, the Allied leaders, particularly

Winston Churchill, tried to bring about a resumption
of talks between Stalin and the Polish Government in
Exile. But these eorts broke down over several matters. One was the Katy massacre (and others at Kalinin
and Kharkiv). Another was Polands postwar borders.
Stalin insisted that the territories annexed by the Soviets in 1939, which had millions of Poles in addition
to Ukrainian and Belarusian populations,[22] should remain in Soviet hands, and that Poland should be compensated with lands to be annexed from Germany. Mikoajczyk, however, refused to compromise on the question
of Polands sovereignty over her prewar eastern territories. A third matter was Mikoajczyks insistence that
Stalin not set up a Communist government in postwar


Postwar history

Standard of the President in exile.

Mikoajczyk and his colleagues in the Polish governmentin-exile insisted on making a stand in the defense of
Polands pre-1939 eastern border (retaining its Kresy region) as a basis for the future Polish-Soviet border.[23]
However, this was a position that could not be defended
in practice Stalin was in occupation of the territory
in question. The government-in-exiles refusal to accept
the proposed new Polish borders infuriated the Allies,
particularly Churchill, making them less inclined to oppose Stalin on issues of how Polands postwar government
would be structured. In the end, the exiles lost on both issues: Stalin annexed the eastern territories, and was able
to impose the communist-dominated Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland as the legitimate authority of Poland. However, Poland preserved its status as an
independent state, despite the arguments of some inuential Communists, such as Wanda Wasilewska, in favor
of Poland becoming a republic of the Soviet Union.

tained its existence, but France on 29 June 1945,[6]

then the United States and United Kingdom on 5 July
1945[6][25] withdrew their recognition. The Polish Armed
Forces in exile were disbanded in 1945, and most of their
members, unable to safely return to Communist Poland,
settled in other countries. The London Poles had to vacate the Polish embassy on Portland Place and were left
only with the presidents private residence at 43 Eaton
Place. The Government in Exile became largely symbolic of continued resistance to foreign occupation of
Poland, while retaining some important archives from
prewar Poland. The Republic of Ireland, Francoist Spain
and the Vatican City (until 1979) were the last countries
to recognize the Government in Exile, though the Vatican through Secretary of State Domenico Tardini
had withdrawn diplomatic privileges from the envoy of
the Polish pre-war government in 1959.[26]
In 1954, political dierences led to a split in the ranks of
the Government in Exile. One group, claiming to represent 80% of 500,000 anti-Communist Poles exiled since
the war, was opposed to President August Zaleski's continuation in oce when his seven-year term expired. It
formed a Council of National Unity in July 1954, and
set up a Council of Three to exercise the functions of
head of state, comprising Tomasz Arciszewski, General
Wadysaw Anders, and Edward Raczyski. Only after
Zaleskis death in 1972 did the two factions reunite.
Some supporters of the Government in Exile eventually
returned to Poland, such as Prime Minister Hugon Hanke
in 1955 and his predecessor Stanisaw Mackiewicz in
1956. The Soviet-installed government in Warsaw actively campaigned for the return of the exiles, promising decent and dignied employment in communist Polish administration and forgiveness of past transgressions.

Despite these setbacks, the Government in Exile continued in existence. When Soviet rule over Poland came to
an end in 1989, there was still a president and a cabinet of
eight meeting every two weeks in London, commanding
In November 1944, despite his mistrust of the Soviets, the loyalty of about 150,000 Polish veterans and their deMikoajczyk resigned[24] to return to Poland and take of- scendants living in Britain, including 35,000 in London
ce in the Provisional Government of National Unity, a alone.
new government established under the auspices of the
In December 1990, when Lech Wasa became the rst
Soviet occupation authorities comprising his faction and
post-Communist president of Poland since the war, he
much of the old Provisional Government. Many Polreceived the symbols of the Polish Republic (the presiish exiles opposed this action, believing that this governdential banner, the presidential and state seals, the presiment was a faade for the establishment of Communist
dential sashes, and the original text of the 1935 Constiturule in Poland. This view was later proven correct in
tion) from the last president of the Government in Exile,
1947, when Mikoajczyks Peoples Party was defeated in
Ryszard Kaczorowski.[27] In 1992, military medals and
an election which was later shown to have been frauduother decorations awarded by the Government in Exile
lent. The Communist-dominated bloc was credited with
were ocially recognized in Poland.
over 80 percent of the vote, a result that was only obtained through large-scale falsication. The opposition
claimed it would have won in a landslide had the election been honest. Mikoajczyk, who would have likely
become prime minister had the election been truly free,
left Poland again in April 1947, this time never to return. 2 Government and politics
Meanwhile the Polish Government in Exile had main-




Prime ministers

Armed forces

Main article: Polish contribution to World War II

Association of Armed Struggle (Zwizek Walki

Zbrojnej, ZWZ)
Home Army (Armia Krajowa)
Grey Ranks (Szare Szeregi)
Polish resistance movement in World War II
Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish Armed Forces in the East

See also
Jan Karski, resistance ghter.
Tadeusz Chciuk-Celt, special envoy of the government.
Ignacy Schwarzbart


5 References
[1] Count Edward Raczynski In Allied London Weidenfeld
and Nicolson 1962 Page 39
[2] Editor Waclaw Jedrzejewicz Poland in the British Parliament 1939-1945 Volume I Jozef Pilsudski 1946 Page 317
[3] John Coutouvidis & Jamie Reynolds Poland 1939-1947
ISBN 0-7185-1211-1 Page 20
[4] Jozef Garlinski Poland in the Second World War, ISBN
0-333-39258-2 Page 48
[5] Editor Waclaw Jedrzejewicz Poland in the British Parliament 1939-1945 Volume I Jozef Pilsudski 1946 Page 318
[6] Editor Peter D. Stachura Chapter 4 by Wojciech Rojek The Poles in Britain 1940-2000 ISBN 0-7146-8444-9
Page 33
[7] Johbjkuinhojvn Coutouvidis & Jamie Reynolds Poland
1939-1947 ISBN 0-7185-1211-1 Page 26
[8] Editor Kieth Sword Sikorski: Soldier and Statesman ISBN
[9] Jozef Garlinski Poland in the Second World War, ISBN
0-333-39258-2 Page 49
[10] Jozef Garlinski Poland in the Second World War, ISBN
0-333-39258-2 Pages 17-18
[11] Jozef Garlinski Poland in the Second World War, ISBN
0-333-39258-2 Page 55-56
[12] Jozef Garlinski Poland in the Second World War, ISBN
0-333-39258-2 Page 81

Szmul Zygielbojm

[13] Stanislaw Mikolajczyk The Pattern of Soviet Domination

Sampson Low, Marston & Co 1948 Page 17

Henryk Leon Strasburger, Finance Minister and

Minister in the Middle East for the Sikorski government; Ambassador to London for Mikolajczyk.

[14] Wojciech Roszkowski The Shadow of Yalta ISBN 8360142-00-9 Page 27

Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki, alternative President of

the Republic of Poland (19721991).
Polish Committee of National Liberation (Polski
Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego, PKWN), 1944
Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland
(Rzd Tymczasowy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej,
RTRP), 1945.
Provisional Government of National Unity (Tymczasowy Rzd Jednoci Narodowej, TRJN), 1945
Peoples Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita
Ludowa, PRL), 19441952 (unocial), 19521989
Western betrayal

[15] Stanislaw Mikolajczyk The Pattern of Soviet Domination

Sampson Low, Marston & Co 1948 Page 19
[16] Note of the Foreign Minister Edward Raczynski The
mass extermination of Jews in German occupied Poland,
Note addressed to the Governments of the United Nations on December 10th 1942, also published (30 December 1942) by the Polish Foreign Ministry as a public document with the aim to reach the public opinions of
the Free World. See: http://www.projectinposterum.org/
[17] Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, 1981 (Pimlico
edition, p.101) On december 10, the Polish Ambassador
in London, Edward Raczynski sent Eden an extremely detailed twenty-one point summary of all the most recent information regarding the killing of Jews in Poland; conrmation, he wrote, that the German authorities aim with
systematic deliberation at the total extermination of the
Jewish population of Poland as well as of the many thousands of Jews whom the Germans had deported to Poland
from western and Central Europe, and from the German
Reich itself.



[18] J.K.Zawodny Death in the Forest ISBN 0-87052-563-8

Page 15

Publications on the Polish Government (in Exile)


[19] Louis Fitzgibbon Katyn Massacre ISBN 0-552-10455-8

Page 126

Stamp Issues by the Polish Government in Exile

[20] J.K.Zawodny Death in the Forest ISBN 0-87052-563-8

Page 24
[21] John Coutouvidis & Jamie Reynolds Poland 1939-1947
ISBN 0-7185-1211-1 Page 88
[22] (Polish)"Among the population of Eastern territories were
circa 38% Poles, 37 % Ukrainians, 14,5 % Belarusians,
8,4 % Jewish, 0,9 % Russians and 0,6 % Germans
Elbieta Trela-Mazur (1997). Wodzimierz Bonusiak,
Stanisaw Jan Ciesielski, Zygmunt Makowski, Mikoaj
Iwanow, ed. Sowietyzacja owiaty w Maopolsce Wschodniej pod radzieck okupacj 1939-1941 (Sovietization of
education in eastern Lesser Poland during the Soviet occupation 1939-1941). Kielce: Wysza Szkoa Pedagogiczna im. Jana Kochanowskiego. p. 294. ISBN 83-7133100-2., also in Wrocawskie Studia Wschodnie, Wrocaw,
[23] John Coutouvidis & Jamie Reynolds Poland 1939-1947
ISBN 0-7185-1211-1 Pages 103-104
[24] John Coutouvidis & Jamie Reynolds Poland 1939-1947
ISBN 0-7185-1211-1 Page 107
[25] Peter D. Stachura, Editor The Poles in Britain 19402000,
Frank Cass, 2004, ISBN 0-7146-8444-9, Paperback First
Edition, p. 8.
[26] Phantoms in Rome, TIME Magazine, 19 January 1959
[27] Peter D. Stachura, Editor The Poles in Britain 19402000,
Frank Cass, 2004, ISBN 0-7146-8444-9, Paperback First
Edition, p. 45.

Further reading
Cienciala, Anna M. The Foreign Policy of the Polish Government-in-Exile, 19391945: Political and
Military Realities versus Polish Psychological Reality in: John S. Micgiel and Piotr S. Wandycz
eds., Reections on Polish Foreign Policy, New York:
2005. online
Davies, Norman. Gods Playground: A History of
Poland, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present (2005)
Kochanski, Halik. The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and
the Poles in the Second World War (2012) excerpt
and text search

External links
Statement of the Polish government in exile following the death of General Sikorski (1943)

Polish Chancellery website: Prime Ministers IInd

Republic of Poland in Exile
Polish World War II website on the Polish Government in Exile

7.1 Multimedia
Republic in Exile tells the story of the Polish Governmentin-Exile in the form of ve short episodes available on the
YouTube channel: Polish Embassy UK
Republic in Exile, Episode 1: War on YouTube
(12 December 2014), Polish Embassy UK
Republic in Exile, Episode 2: Poland outside
Poland on YouTube (19 December 2014), Polish
Embassy UK
Republic in Exile, Episode 3: Polish voice in the
world on YouTube (26 December 2014), Polish Embassy UK
Republic in Exile, Episode 4: Solidarity on
YouTube (9 January 2015), Polish Embassy UK
Republic in Exile, Episode 5: Free Poland on
YouTube (16 January 2015), Polish Embassy UK
Coordinates: 5213N 2102E / 52.217N 21.033E


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Original artist: Collection of the Oce of War Information


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