Władysław Raczkiewicz

Władysław Raczkiewicz ([vwadɨˈswaf rat͡ʂkʲɛˈvit͡ʂ]; 28 January 1885 – 6 June 1947) was a Polish politician, lawyer, diplomat and the first president of the Polish government-in-exile from 1939 until his death in 1947. Until 1945, he was the internationally recognized Polish head of state, and the Polish Government in Exile was recognized as the continuum to the Polish government of 1939.

Władysław Raczkiewicz
Władysław Raczkiewicz 1930.jpg
4th President of Poland
1st President in exile
In office
30 September 1939 – 5 June 1947
Prime MinisterWładysław Sikorski
Stanisław Mikołajczyk
Tomasz Arciszewski
Preceded byIgnacy Mościcki
Succeeded byAugust Zaleski (in exile)
Bolesław Bierut (in country)
Marshal of the Senate
In office
9 December 1930 – 3 October 1935
PresidentIgnacy Mościcki
Prime MinisterWalery Sławek
Aleksander Prystor
Janusz Jędrzejewicz
Leon Kozłowski
Walery Sławek
Preceded byJulian Szymański
Succeeded byAleksander Prystor
Personal details
Born28 January 1885
Kutaisi, Kutais Governorate, Russian Empire
Died6 June 1947(1947-06-06) (aged 62)
Ruthin, Wales
Resting placePolish Aviators' Plot, Newark-on-Trent Cemetery, Nottinghamshire, England
Political partyNone (as President)
BBWR (earlier)
Spouse(s)Jadwiga Raczkiewicz

Early life and studies

Władysław Raczkiewicz was born in Kutaisi, the second-largest city in Georgia, at that time part of the Russian Empire to Polish parents Józef Raczkiewicz, a court judge, and Ludwika Łukaszewicz. He studied in Saint Petersburg where he joined the Polish Youth Organization. After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Dorpat he was employed as a lawyer in Minsk. Upon the outbreak of World War I he served in the Russian Imperial Army, but after the Russian Revolution he joined the vanguard for Polish independence. Serving as the head of the Naczelny Polski Komitet Wojskowy, he helped to create the Polish I Corps in Russia. Later he served under future Marshal and chief-of-state Józef Piłsudski, who created the Polish Legions that ultimately aided Poland in re-establishing its independence.

As a volunteer he fought in the Polish–Soviet War between 1919 and 1920. At first supporter of endecja faction, later joined the sanacja camp headed by Piłsudski and his closest supporters. Raczkiewicz served as the Voivode of the Nowogródek Voivodeship from 1921 to 1924; government delegate to Wilno Voivodeship (1924–1925) and later as its voivode (1926–1931). After the Brest elections he was appointed the Senate Marshal (1930–1935) and Voivode of Kraków Voivodeship in 1935, and Pomeranian Voivodeship from 1936 to 1939.

World War II

When Poland was invaded by the Wehrmacht in 1939, he escaped to Angers where the Polish government-in-exile was established. He lived in the nearby Château de Pignerolle from 2 December 1939 until moving on 10 June 1940 to London, where he joined General Władysław Sikorski and Stanisław Mikołajczyk in the relocated Polish government in exile. He was an opponent of the Sikorski–Mayski agreement.

The government under Raczkiewicz and Sikorski promoted a liberal-democratic agenda with equal rights for the Polish-Jewish minority, a view not shared by the majority of Polish society at the time and a departure from pre-war antisemitic administrations.[1]

In February 1945, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt held the Yalta Conference. The future of Poland was one of the main topics that was deliberated upon. Stalin claimed that only a strong, pro-Soviet government in Poland would be able to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union. As a result of the conference, the Allies agreed to withdraw their recognition of the Polish Government in Exile, after the formation of a new government on Polish territory.

Raczkiewicz died in exile in 1947, in the Welsh town of Ruthin.[2] He is buried in the cemetery at Newark-on-Trent in England.


  1. ^ Rogers, Barbara. "British Intelligence and the Holocaust: Auschwitz and the Allies Re-examined." The Journal of Holocaust Education 8.1 (1999): 89-106. quote: "The PGE, formed in Paris in 1939, had adopted a radically different stance from previous Polish administrations, which had implemented anti-Semitic measures, perceiving Jews as a 'foreign', economically burdensome, superfluous and a morally destructive element. The PGE under Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz and Wladyslaw Sikorski had pledged liberal democratic political order, upholding equal rights for Jews in Poland, although this view was not necessarily shared by a majority in Polish society. A letter sent to the British Foreign Office from Prince Radziwill in Warsaw, for example, explained that although Poles were against 'Jewish persecution', anti-Semitism was still strong 'among all spheres of the population', and that after the war Polish society would not permit the Jews to return to their 'dominating position' in the economic world, wholesale trade and industry. Radziwill stated that to his mind the PGE did not realise the intensity of Polish feeling; anti-Semitism had intensified due to the attitude of Polish Jews who had partly blamed the Poles for their suffering by unnecessarily provoking the war."
  2. ^ Beamish, MC, MP, Major Tufton (14 June 1947). "Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz : President of Poland". "The Tablet" archive. Retrieved 5 January 2014.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski
President of the Polish Republic in exile
Succeeded by
August Zaleski
Preceded by
Ignacy Mościcki
Polish Head of State (Recognized by the Allies)
Succeeded by
Bolesław Bierut
(Chairman of the People's Council in Poland)