Ryszard Kaczorowski

Ryszard Kaczorowski, GCMG ([ˈrɨʂart kat͡ʂɔˈrɔfskʲi] (listen); 26 November 1919 – 10 April 2010) was a Polish statesman. From 1989 to 1990, he served as the last President of Poland-in-exile. He succeeded Kazimierz Sabbat, and resigned his post following Poland's regaining independence from the Soviet sphere of influence and the election of Lech Wałęsa as the first democratically elected President of Poland since before the Second World War. He died on 10 April 2010 in the plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, along with the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and other senior government officials.

Ryszard Kaczorowski
Ryszard Kaczorowski 2008 corrected.jpg
President of Poland
In office
19 July 1989 – 22 December 1990
Prime MinisterEdward Szczepanik
Preceded byKazimierz Sabbat
Succeeded byLech Wałęsa (As the first democratically elected president)
Minister of Home Affairs in Exile
In office
8 April 1986 – 19 July 1989
PresidentKazimierz Sabbat
Prime MinisterEdward Szczepanik
Preceded byEdward Szczepanik
Succeeded byRyszard Zakrzewski
Personal details
Born(1919-11-26)26 November 1919
Białystok, Poland
Died10 April 2010(2010-04-10) (aged 90)
Smolensk, Smolensk Oblast, Russia
Cause of deathPlane crash
Political partyIndependent
SpouseKarolina Kaczorowska (m. 1952)
AwardsOrder of the White Eagle Order of the Polonia Restituta - Grand Cross Order of Polonia Restituta - Officer's Cross Monte Cassino Commemorative Cross Armia Krajowa Cross Pro Memoria Medal Bene Merito honorary badge Order of St. Michael and St. George Political Prisoner Cross Order of Pius IX - Grand Cross Knight's Cross of the Society of Merit of the Order of Saint Lazarus from Jerusalem
WebsiteOfficial website

Life and careerEdit

Ryszard Kaczorowski was born on 26 November 1919, in a wooden house at 7 Mazowiecka Street[1] in Piaski District of Białystok. The house stood at the intersection of Mazowiecka Street with the no longer existing Argentyńska Street.,[2] Białystok, Poland. His parents were Wacław Kaczorowski, of the Jelita Coat of Arms, and Jadwiga (née Sawicka). In 1920, when Białystok was overrun by Soviet forces during the Polish-Soviet War, it briefly served as headquarters of the Polish Revolutionary Committee headed by Julian Marchlewski, which attempted to declare the Polish Soviet Socialist Republic.[3][4] The city again changed hands after the Battle of Białystok, when the city was liberated by the 1st Legions Infantry Division and 5th Legions' Infantry Regiment. The family witnessed certain dramatic results of the battle from a small wooden house typical at Argentyńska Street.

He completed his education at a school of commerce. He was also a Scouting instructor of a local branch of the Polish Scouting Association. Following the Invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II, he secretly recreated the scouting movement – which was banned by the Soviet authorities – and became a head of the Białystok banner of the Szare Szeregi.[5] In 1940, he was arrested by the NKVD and sentenced to death, which was later changed to ten years in a concentration camp in Kolyma.[5] He remembered later:

On the third of May we organized a bonfire in the cell. And since we were on death row, we could not be punished any more, so the guard who opened the window and shouted "quieter!" he hit a clay bowl we had on hand. The bowl splattered, the guard hid, and we sang so that I think the whole prison heard.

Following the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement of 1941, he was set free and enlisted in Anders' Army. After its evacuation from the Soviet Union, Kaczorowski joined the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, where he completed divisional secondary school. He fought in most major battles of the Polish 2nd Corps, including the Battle of Monte Cassino.[5] After the war, he remained in the United Kingdom as a political emigrant. Following demobilisation, he completed an academic course in foreign trade at the Polytechnic Regent Street (later the University of Westminster). Until 1986, he worked in business as an accountant. From 1955-67, he was the Chief Scout, and, subsequently, President of the émigré Polish Scouting Union (ZHP). As such, he led the Polish delegation for the 1957 Jamboree.

Kaczorowski was also active in Polish political circles and a member of the National Council of Poland, a parliament-in-exile. In 1986, he was appointed the Minister for Home Affairs within the Polish government in exile. As the April Constitution of Poland of 1935 (the legal basis for the government) allowed the president to appoint his successor "in case the seat is emptied before the peace is settled", acting president in exile Kazimierz Sabbat named Kaczorowski as his successor in January 1988. Sabbat died suddenly on 19 July 1989 and Kaczorowski automatically succeeded him. He handed over the insignia of the presidential power of the Second Republic to President Lech Wałęsa on 22 December 1990, signifying both a recognition of the legitimacy of the government in exile and its continuity with the Third Polish Republic.

Personal lifeEdit

Kaczorowski and his wife in the Senate in 2008

Ryszard Kaczorowski's last home was in London. He had two daughters with wife Karolina, Jadwiga Kaczorowska, who has two children Zenek and Wanda Szulc, and Alicja Jankowska who has three children, Ryszard, Marcin and Krystyna Jankowska. He was frequently present in Poland and was treated according to the Polish law on former presidents of the state, granting him a presidential pension, Biuro Ochrony Rządu protection and a chancellery. He was an honorary chairman of numerous social and historical organisations, as well as an honorary citizen of almost thirty cities in Poland, including: Warsaw, Gdańsk, Gdynia, Kielce, Kraków, Opole, Zielona Góra and his hometown of Białystok.

During his retirement, Kaczorowski did not hold any public positions, although it was reported that in November 1994 Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak proposed to President Wałęsa to appoint Kaczorowski as Minister of Defence (as, under the then-constitution, the President appointed the Ministers of Defence, the Interior and Foreign Affairs, regardless of the Prime Minister's will).[6] Although he was a self-described follower of Józef Piłsudski (Piłsudczyk), Kaczorowski chose to not get involved in any partisan or strictly political activity during his retirement.[7]

On 9 November 2004, Kaczorowski was appointed to the Order of St Michael and St George as an Honorary Knight Grand Cross by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom for "his exceptional contribution to the community of Polish emigrees and their descendants living in the UK".[8]


Kaczorowski's tomb in the National Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw.

He died on 10 April 2010 in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, along with the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and 94 others. He was the oldest victim of the crash.[9] On 19 April 2010, Kaczorowski's coffin was taken to St John's Cathedral for a funeral mass, before being buried in a crypt at the National Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw.


  1. ^ Kwartał prezydenta Ryszarda Kaczorowskiego w Białymstoku
  2. ^ Tomas Mikulicz (2015). "Nie ma w Białymstoku dzielnic z charakterem". Kurier Porany (in Polish). Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  3. ^ Zbiór afiszów i druków ulotnych 1944–1950, nr z 376, sygn. 262 "Wystawa – 50 lat Archiwum w Białymstoku" Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine,(in Polish) retrieved on: 9 August 2007.
  4. ^ Mawdsley, Evan (2007). The Russian Civil War. Pegasus Books. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-933648-15-6.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Matylda Młocka: Prezydent z przedwojennego dworu Archived 4 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine – Rzeczpospolita, 26 November 2009.
  6. ^ "Kaczorowski Ryszard (1919–2010) | Ostatni prezydent II RP". Polityka.pl. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Ryszard Kaczorowski, ostatni prezydent RP na wychodźstwie nie żyje". Osen.pl. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  8. ^ "United Kingdom Government News: BRITAIN HONOURS MR RYSZARD KACZOROWSKI". Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Prezydenckim Tu-154 leciały najważniejsze osoby w państwie (Polish)". Wiadomosci.gazeta.pl. 10 April 2011. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2011.


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by President of the Polish Republic in exile
Succeeded by
Lech Wałęsa (domiciled President)