Britain and the Polish Government-in-Exile, January 1944 to June 1945
This chapter charts the origins of the British commitment to support the Polish government-in-exile in re-establishing a free and sovereign Polish state after the end of the Second World War. Churchill and Eden initially pledged their support to the exile government in exchange for the significant Polish military contribution to the allied war effort. Beyond a crude bargain, however, the commitment to Poland was linked to conceptions of Britain’s continuing global power and prestige after the war: there was an expectation that Britain would possess sufficient strength to exert influence in determining the Polish political settlement. Further, the future of Poland was wrapped up in the broader vision of the shape of postwar Europe, in which Anglo-Soviet cooperation would be ongoing. The chapter analyses the way in which these expectations conditioned British policy towards Poland, in particular the decision to urge the former Polish prime minister, Stanisław Mikołajczyk, to return to Poland to participate in the communist-dominated provisional government after the war.