Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz

Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz : Poland

Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, the son of a judge, was born in Russia on 28th January, 1885. He studied in St. Petersburg where he joined the Polish Youth Organization.

After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Dorpat he worked as a lawyer in Minsk. On the outbreak of the First World War he joined the underground movement for Polish freedom. He served under Josef Pilsudski, who had built a private army that he hoped would enable Poland to fight for its independence from Russia.

In 1914 Pilsudski and his 10,000 men fought with the Austrians against the Russian Army but after the Russian Revolution his loyalty was questioned and he was arrested and imprisoned in July 1917.

On his release in 1918 Josef Pilsudski became provisional head of state and leader of all Polish troops. Pilsudski represented Poland at the Versailles Treaty and his army successfully defended Poland against the Red Army (1919-20).

During the Russian Civil War Sikorski commanded the Northern Army, winning one of the decisive battles of the war. Pilsudki's army made considerable gains and the Soviet-Polish Treaty of Riga (1921) left Poland in control of substantial areas of Lithuania, Belorussia and the Ukraine. Pilsudki appointed Raczkiewicz as his Minister of Internal Affairs. Later he became Speaker of the Senate.

When Poland was invaded by the German Army in September 1939. He escaped to London where he joined with Wladyslaw Sikorski and Stanislaw Mikolajczyk to establish a Polish government-in-exile.

Following the invasion of the Soviet Union by the German Army, Joseph Stalin agreed in June 1941, to invalidate the Soviet-German partition of Poland.

The relationship between the governments of Soviet Union and Poland was severely damaged by the discovery of mass graves of Polish officers at Katyn. Joseph Stalin claimed that the atrocity had been carried out by the German Army and in April 1943 broke off relations with the Polish government.

In February, 1945, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt held a conference in Yalta in the Crimea. With Soviet troops in most of Eastern Europe, Stalin was in a strong negotiating position. Roosevelt and Churchill tried hard to restrict post-war influence in this area but the only concession they could obtain was a promise that free elections would be held in these countries.

Poland was the main debating point. Stalin explained that throughout history Poland had either attacked Russia or had been used as a corridor through which other hostile countries invaded her. Only a strong, pro-Communist government in Poland would be able to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union. As a result of the conference the Allies withdrew their recognition for the Polish government-in-exile.

Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz died on 6th June 1947.