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Polish gov’t-in-exile preserved continuity of 2nd Republic of Poland: scholar

With the remains of Polish Presidents-in-Exile Władysław Raczkiewicz (who was in office from 1939 to 1947), August Zaleski (1947-1972), and Stanisław Ostrowski (1972-1979) re-buried in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw on Saturday, TVP World asked Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski, a professor of history, about the significance both of the entombed and the ceremony itself.

“The purpose of the Polish government-in-exile changed in the course of its long life. Initially, the purpose was to continue the war which began when Natzi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and to continue to lead the efforts of the Polish nation as it fought against the Natzis who were joined by the Soviets on September 17,” TVP World’s guest said.

“When the British and other allied governments withdrew recognition from the Polish government-in-exile in 1945 and transferred their recognition to the Soviet satellite in Poland itself, then the purpose of the Polish government-in-exile was to maintain the continuity of the Second Republic of Poland and to remind the world that what had happened to Poland was flagrantly illegal and had nothing to do with the wishes of its people,” the professor said.

The mission of the Polish government-in-exile was brought to an end when Poland was able, once again, to enjoy free and democratic presidential elections in 1990 and then, parliamentary, in 1991,” Professor Butterwick-Pawlikowski.

Depending on the period, the Polish government-in-exile enjoyed different political clout. “Between 1945 and 1990 it had no actual power over Poland itself nor was it recognised as a government by the British government. So it had a moral authority for those Poles and others who refused to recognise the legitimacy of what had been done to Poland,” TVP World’s guest said.

Although the government-in-exile had “moral authority rather than actual power”, Professor Butterwick-Pawlikowski said that “even among the Poles in exile, it was a moral choice to follow the Polish government-in-exile rather than any other kind of power.”

If you are interested in the profiles of Polish Presidents-in-Exile Władysław Raczkiewicz, August Zaleski, and Stanisław Ostrowski, click the video above to watch the full interview.


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