Edward Bernard Raczyński

Count Edward Bernard Raczyński (December 19, 1891 – July 30, 1993) was a Polish diplomat, writer, politician and President of Poland in exile (between 1979 and 1986).

Count Edward Bernard Raczyński
Edward Bernard Raczyński.jpg
7th President of Poland
4th President in Exile
In office
April 8, 1979 – April 8, 1986
Prime MinisterKazimierz Sabbat
DeputyKazimierz Sabbat
(designated successor)
Preceded byStanisław Ostrowski
Succeeded byKazimierz Sabbat
Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
2nd Minister in Exile
In office
August 22, 1941 – July 14, 1943
PresidentWładysław Raczkiewicz
Prime MinisterWładysław Sikorski, Stanisław Mikołajczyk
Preceded byAugust Zaleski
Succeeded byTadeusz Romer
Member of the Council of Three
In office
1954 – 1972
Alongside: Władysław Anders, Tomasz Arciszewski, Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, Roman Odzierzyński, Stanisław Mglej, Alfred Urbański, Stanisław Kopański
Preceded byAugust Zaleski
Succeeded byStanisław Ostrowski
Personal details
Born(1891-12-19)December 19, 1891
Zakopane, Austro-Hungary (now Poland)
DiedJuly 30, 1993(1993-07-30) (aged 101)
London, United Kingdom
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Lady Joyous Markham (died)
Cecylia Jaroszyńska (died)
Aniela Lilpop
ProfessionPolitician, Diplomat, Writer

He was the longest living (101), and oldest serving Polish President (from the age of 88 to 95).


Relief of the Raczyński family comital coat of arms

Count Edward Bernard Maria Raczyński was born December 19, 1891 in Zakopane, to a Polish aristocratic family. His father was Count Edward Aleksander Raczyński of Nałęcz coat of arms, and his mother Róża née Countess Potocka. The Raczyńskis were related to the Austro-Hungarian house of Habsburgs. The full name was "Raczyński z Małyszyna", as they were a branch of the noble family Nałęcz-Małyski from Greater Poland (the area of the town of Wieluń) and about 1540 took their name from the estate of Raczyn near Wieluń. However, the Raczyńskis remained relatively unknown until the 18th century, when four of them became Senators of Poland under different reigns. One of the Raczyńskis became a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle during the reign of King August the Strong, six of them were awarded the Virtuti Militari order during the time of Duchy of Warsaw and three received the same distinction during the November Uprising of 1831. The title of Count was awarded to different branches of the family by Prussian Kings Friedrich Wilhelm III (in 1824) and Wilhelm II (in 1905). One of their kin was a Knight of the highest Prussian Order of the Black Eagle.

Raczyński spent most of his childhood in Kraków, in the family palace Pod Baranami and in the family palace in Rogalin in Greater Poland. He studied law in Leipzig, Kraków, and London (the London School of Economics) and was awarded with a doctorate of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków in 1915. In November 1918, Raczynski joined the army of the resuscitated Poland, from which he was called to the diplomatic service in May 1919. Until 1925, he worked in Polish embassies and missions in Bern, Copenhagen and London. Back in Warsaw, he became the head of the department of international agreements. In 1932, Raczyński was appointed Polish ambassador to the League of Nations and in 1934 he became the ambassador of the Republic of Poland in the United Kingdom. On behalf of Poland, he signed the Polish-British alliance[1] (August 25, 1939) which ultimately led the United Kingdom to declare war on Nazi Germany after the country's invasion.

World War IIEdit

Last page "Raczyński's Note" - official note of Polish government-in-exile to Anthony Eden 10 December 1942.

Following the September 1, 1939 German Invasion of Poland Raczyński remained in London where he continued to serve as the ambassador of the Polish Government in Exile and one of its prominent members. Between July 22, 1941 and July 14, 1943 he was also the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Władysław Sikorski. In this capacity, he provided the Allies with one of the earliest and most accurate accounts of the ongoing Holocaust ("The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland", Raczyński's Note addressed to the Governments of the United Nations on December 10, 1942")[2] and pleaded for action.[3][4]

Later lifeEdit

After 1945, when the government of the United Kingdom broke the pacts with Poland and withdrew support for the Polish government, Raczyński remained in London, where he acted as one of the most notable members of Polish diaspora there. He was active in various political and social organisations in exile, including the Fundusz Pomocy Krajowi (Help for the Country Fund) which actively supported the democratic opposition in communist-controlled Poland. Between 1954 and 1972 he was one of the members of the Council of the Three, the collective presidential body of the Polish government in exile. He was also a member of the Committee for Polish Affairs and an advisor of various British governmental agencies and ministries.

Sarcophagus of President Edward Raczyński in Rogalin

In March 1979, Raczyński became President in exile, after being previously chosen by the outgoing President Stanisław Ostrowski. In turn, he chose as his successor Prime Minister Kazimierz Sabbat.

During the Raczyński presidency (1979–1986) the Solidarity movement was established in Poland. Raczyński played an important role in raising awareness about the events in Poland in Western countries and in establishing closer ties with the opposition movement in Poland.

President Raczyński at some point considered naming Władysław Bartoszewski as his successor, as he wanted to choose someone "from the country" and with strong ties to the Polish opposition movement. Bartoszewski, however, declined the offer.[5]

After serving a 7-year term he resigned from his post on April 8, 1986. He was the last Polish President-in-Exile who had held an important office during the era of the 2nd Republic: his successors, Kazimierz Sabbat and Ryszard Kaczorowski were in their twenties at the outset of the Second World War.[6] As he left office he received a praise for reuniting the Polish political emigration and reshaping the Government in exile.[7]

Death and legacyEdit

Raczyński died on July 30, 1993, at his home in London as the last male descendant of his line. His coffin was placed in the mausoleum of his family located at the chapel in Rogalin. In his last will and testament, Count Raczyński bequeathed his family's palace in Rogalin, and his library to the Polish nation. He was the longest living head of state in Poland's history and one of the very few centenarians among European politicians of the 20th century.[8]

In 2004, a blue plaque was installed on the house where he lived and died, No. 8 Lennox Gardens in Brompton.[9]

Political offices
Preceded by
Stanisław Ostrowski
President of the Polish Republic in exile
Succeeded by
Kazimierz Sabbat



Funeral of Wanda Dembińska (née Raczyńska) in Rogalin on 27 Feb 2016

In 1925, Edward Raczyński married Joyous Markham, daughter of a British coal mining mogul, Sir Arthur Markham, 1st Baronet, but she died in 1931.

On August 25, 1932 he married his second wife, Cecylia Maria Jaroszyńska, by whom he had three daughters:

  • Wanda Dembińska née Raczyńska (1933-2016), wife of Capt. Ryszard Dembiński (1924-2008), who was chairman of the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in 1979-2003
  • Viridianna Rey, née Raczyńska (b. 1935), wife of Count Xawery Rey (1934–1987)
  • Katarzyna Raczyńska (b. 1939)

In 1962, his second wife Cecylia died.

In 1991, at the age of 99, Edward Raczyński married his third wife, Aniela Lilpop (daughter of architect, Franciszek Lilpop), thus legalizing a union of many years.


Raczyński's Works

  • Edward Raczyński, The British-Polish Alliance, Its Origin and Meaning; London 1948
  • Edward Raczyński, W sojuszniczym Londynie. Dziennik ambasadora Edwarda Raczyńskiego 1939–1945; London 1960. ISBN 0-85065-287-1
  • Edward Raczynski, "In Allied London. The Wartime diaries of the Polish Ambassador", London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1962.
  • Omar Khayyám, Rubayat. Polish translation by Edward Raczyński, London, 1960.
  • Edward Raczyński, Rogalin i jego mieszkańcy. London, 1969. ISBN 83-919577-0-5
  • Edward Raczyński, Pani Róża (a Biography of his mother), London 1969. ISBN 83-901583-2-9
  • Edward Raczyński, Od Narcyza Kulikowskiego do Winstona Churchilla. London 1976
  • Edward Raczynski (with Tadeusz Zenczykowski), "Od Genewy do Jalty. Rozmowy radiowe", London, Puls, 1988.
  • Edward Raczyński, Czas wielkich zmian. Paris 1990. ISBN 2-85316-064-5

Family History

  • Simon Konarski, Armorial de la Noblesse Polonaise titrée, Paris 1958

Raczyński's Biography

  • Krzysztof Kania, Edward Bernard Raczynski, 1891–1993, Dyplomata i Polityk, Wydawnictwo Neriton, Warszawa, 2014

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wikisource:Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland-London (1939)
  2. ^ "The mass extermination of Jews in German occupied Poland, Note addressed to the Governments of the United Nations on December 10, 1942" published later (30 decembre 1942) by the Polish Foreign Ministry as a brochure distributed to politicians and the medias : http://www.projectinposterum.org/docs/mass_extermination.htm
  3. ^ Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, 1981 (Pimlico edition, p. 96) "Further pressure for action came from the Polish Ambassador, Count Raczynski, who, at a meeting with Anthony Eden on the morning of december 1 (1942) "drew attention", as the Foreign Office noted, "to the wholesale destruction of Jews in Poland" (..) Raczynski had two suggestions : a "warning to Laval" concerning the deportations from France, and a meeting of representatives of the occupied countries to discuss and publicize the persecution. But the Foreign Office rejected the idea of such a meeting"
  4. ^ Walter Laqueur, The terrible secret, 1980 (Penguin edition, p. 236). "On January 18, 1943 Count Raczynski, the Polish Foreign Minister, presented the following demands at the Allied Council : a) The bombing of Germany as a reprisal for the continued extermination of the Polish Jews. b) To press Berlin to let the Jews out of the German-dominated countries, particularly Poland. c) To demand action so as to make the Allied as well as the neutral countries accept the Jews, who had succeeded or would succeed in leaving German-occupied countries. Raczynski did not advance demands for reprisals against German war prisoners and German nationals living in the Allied countries, considering them contrary to the accepted practices of international law. Anthony Eden, acting on behalf of the British Government, rejected the Polish demands and offered instead some vague promises to intervene in certain neutral countries"
  5. ^ Michał Komar, Władysław Bartoszewski, Skąd pan jest? (a long interview). Świat Książki, Warszawa, 2006
  6. ^ "Prezydenci Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na Uchodzstwie, 1939–1990" (The Presidents of the Polish Republic in exile), Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa, Warszawa 2002
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved November 14, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ See also his obituary and short biography by the historian and writer Adam Zamoyski in an article for "The Independent" of 31 July 1993 : https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-count-edward-raczynski-1488283.html
  9. ^ "Blue plaque for Polish statesman Count Edward Raczyński". Government News. May 24, 2004. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013.

External linksEdit