Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

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Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by Steve » 05 Oct 2022 03:08

In 1928 General Sikorski was relieved of his military command by Pilsudski. This was quite a fall for a man who had risen as high as Chief of the General Staff and briefly been Prime Minister. He now spent a lot of time in France writing on military subjects. Sikorski seemingly never forgot or forgave a slight from anyone.

At the outbreak of war Sikorski wrote to Rydz-Smigly offering his services but the letter was ignored. When Rydz and his group were in Kosów on the 17th prior to crossing into Rumania Sikorski arrived. Accounts vary and Sikorski either asked to cross over with them or offered to help form a Polish army in France. Rydz would not meet him even at this time of crisis but a Colonel Jaklicz acted as a go between. Sikorski seemingly crossed over with the Rydz group early on the 18th.

Rydz and the Polish government would now be interned by the Rumanians and separated. Sikorski headed for the French embassy in Bucharest where on the afternoon of the 20th he met Leon Noel the French ambassador to Poland. He also met with officials from the Polish embassy including the military attaché. The embassy now switched sides and the attaché wrote to Rydz’s Chief of Staff refusing obedience to what he described as “a group of dangerously political Pilsudskites”. At 10pm on the 22nd Sikorski and Noel boarded a train to Paris arriving on the evening of the 24th. France was not neutral about the Polish government that would now form in France. Sikorski was assured that supporters of Pilsudski who escaped either from Poland of Rumania would not be allowed to enter France.

General Sosnkowski was the preferred candidate for President but his whereabouts was unknown. On September 20th the Polish ambassador to Rome Boleslo W Dlugoszowsk was nominated. The French said they had no confidence in him presumably because he was closely associated with the pre war government and he stood down. The Polish ambassadors to the UK and France now decided that W Raczkiewicz a former President of the Senate was the most suitable candidate. Raczkiewicz had been associated with the old government so was not the most popular choice. Lukasiewicz the ambassador to France seems to have lobbied particularly hard for him and in November he resigned apparently pushed out by the French.

According to the historian Halik Kochanski, Sikorski in France “orchestrated a witch hunt against those who had over looked him”. A commission of inquiry was set up to look into the September defeat. The following is taken from an article by Arkadiusz Adamczyk 2016.

“Diplomatic instruction issued personally by Sikorski and sent out to heads of the Polish diplomatic agencies without the knowledge of Minister of Foreign Affairs can serve as evidence that the pre-September elites were found guilty even before the judge could announce his verdict. The instruction contained the following passus: There is no excuse for foreign, internal, military and economic policy that led to the defeat. The attempt to defend or excuse this policy is to be treated as line of duty offence and will be followed by respective consequences. Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie. Akta Władysława Sikorskiego, sygn. 21[mkf 27604], k. 21. Instrukcja dla kierowników placówek w sprawie propagandy (Polish Central Archives of Modern Records in Warsaw. Władysław Sikorski`s Files, sign. 21 [mcf 27604] Col. 21. Instruction to heads of diplomatic agencies on matters of propaganda).”
“On the so-called proscription list there appeared the names, among others, of Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Felicjan Sławoj-Składkowski; Deputy Minister of Military Affairs, gen. Janusz Głuchowski; Deputy Minister of Military Affairs, gen. Aleksander Litwinowicz; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Józef Beck; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Szembek; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mirosław Arciszewski; Minister of Treasury, Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski; Deputy Minister of Treasury, Tadeusz Grodyński; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kajetan Morawski; Minister of Trade and Industry, Antoni Roman; Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Adam Rose; Minister of Communications, Juliusz Ulrych; Deputy Minister of Communications, Aleksander Bobkowski; Deputy Minister of Communications, Julian Piasecki; Minister for Post and Telegraphs, Emil Kaliński, Deputy Minister for Post and Telegraphs, Tadeusz Argasiński; Minister of Religious Denominations and Public Enlightenment, Wojciech Świętosławski; Minister of Justice, Wojciech Świętosławski; Minister of Social Security, Marian Zyndram-Kościałkowski; Deputy Minister of Social Security, Tadeusz Garbusiński; Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, JuliuszPoniatowski; Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Tadeusz A. Adamczy.”

Many officers considered as potential opponents were interned in France and later in Scotland.
https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=835931

Sources -:
Archibald L Patterson – Between Hitler and Stalin
Anita J Prazmowska - Civil War in Poland, 1941 – 1943
Halik Kochanski – The Eagle Unbowed

Sikorski was lucky he had French friends able to help him come to power. He comes across as an authoritarian figure cut from a similar cloth to Pilsudski but perhaps with more than a trace of paranoia in his character.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by wm » 12 Oct 2022 19:18

It seems Mr. Kochanski is a historian with an axe to grind.

The ruling, in the interbellum period, Sanacja Movement dismantled (well, partially) democracy in the Second Polish Republic, corrupted the electoral process and political life, and persecuted its political opponents (including administrative detention in the Bereza concentration camp, patterned on KL Dachau, where they were abused from dawn to dusk).

Then among loud declarations that they were the only guarantor of Poland's safety and territorial integrity, hiding the true state of the army and the state through censorship of the press, they lost the war in a few weeks leading to a massive collapse of morale (especially among the lower classes) and a loss of trust towards all Polish elites.
All the political parties, the entire Polish political scene, gave unconditional support to the Sanacja government in the last months before the war and the only response was arrogance and rejection.

The leaders of the Sanacja Movement were lucky they had to deal with Sikorski. Lots of people wanted them to be hanged immediately without further ado.
Even in his government, there were people much more bloodthirsty than Sikorski - Jan Stańczyk, for example.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by gebhk » 06 Nov 2022 11:09

Hi WM

For the record, H Kochanski is a Miss, Ms or Mrs...

Of course she has an axe to grind; that is the job of historians. She has a theory of events and is entitled to it. As a historian, it is her job to argue that case as best she can.

I would suggest that the Sanacja's sins, great and many as they were, are not the subject here. The relevant question, I would suggest, is whether the settling of pre-war political scores and witchhunts - and I don't think anyone would argue that such did not take place - was in Poland's best interests at that time. I would also suggest it was not: it grossly undermined morale and standards, it removed very able officers from badly needed work (in exactly the same way as it did before the war) and, QED, did nothing for Poland's international standing at a time when good standing was needed most.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by wm » 07 Nov 2022 23:31

The problem is her theory isn't valid, i.e., isn't verifiable unless Sikorski stated himself, "yes, I did it because I was a sadist."
We don't know what he thought, and she doesn't either.

Sanacja was universally hated by all political parties in occupied Poland. Even more, everybody regarded them with suspicion to the point of paranoia.
One of the messages Karski carried was that Beck was living in a palace, in luxury, that was preparing to become the leader of a collaborationist government of Poland - that was the paranoia in action.
Sikorski couldn't come forward and say - listen folks, let's go easy on the "Sanators," that was absolutely impossible. Someone had to pay for what happened - the guilty and the innocent all together.
And most of them, if not all, paid only superficially.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by Steve » 09 Nov 2022 00:15

“The problem is her theory isn't valid, i.e., isn't verifiable unless Sikorski stated himself, "yes, I did it because I was a sadist." We don't know what he thought, and she doesn't either.”

Unless you believe that the actions carried out against former officers and officials of the pre war government were not ordered by Sikorski then we do have a good idea of what he thought. Always judge people by their actions not their words and Sikorski’s actions surely speak of his thoughts. I had a quick look through Karski's “Story of a Secret State” but couldn’t find any reference to Beck living in a palace in Rumania, could you be so good wm as to say where this can be found. Because scapegoats were needed innocent people had to pay and people who had committed no crime apart from being poor at their job also had to pay is a grim way of administering justice. Sounds like something from Stalin’s empire.

This action by Sikorski may show a side of his character. In November 1939 news arrived of an underground organisation P.O.W created in Warsaw by General Michal Tokarzewski-Karaszewicz. He may have been acting on instructions given him in September by Rydz-Smigly. Apparently Sikorski did not welcome the news as he wanted the émigré government to keep command of all formations in occupied Poland. A committee was organised with special responsibilities for home affairs K.M.S.K. Instructions were sent to Poland that a new military organisation Z.W.Z was to replace the one set up by General Karaszewicz. He was to go to Lwow to take command of the area under Soviet occupation. Before the war he had served there as the commanding officer of the corps area so was well known in Lwow. He was duly arrested by the Soviets but would survive and serve in the 2nd Corps.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by wm » 09 Nov 2022 04:11

The legitimate investigations of the reasons for the September defeat, efforts to identify the people responsible for it (and for the dismantling of democracy), punish the guilty was something radically different from a witchhunt, as in:
Sikorski ... orchestrated a witch hunt against those who had overlooked him.
Little was known about pre-war Polish diplomacy, its goals, and its efforts. Even less was known about military preparedness and the defense plan.
There was nothing unreasonable in believing Sanacja failed to prepare for the war, that they were German/Nazi wanna-be collaborators.

In pre-war Poland, any discussions about such subjects were forbidden. People who asked questions, voiced their doubts publicly could have easily ended up in a nasty concentration camp.
And it happened.
Last edited by wm on 09 Nov 2022 04:28, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by wm » 09 Nov 2022 04:27

“Story of a Secret State” was a propaganda piece; for obvious reasons, there was no place there for controversial stories.
During these journeys, I had such an unpleasant adventure in Italy.
I don't remember if it was in Rome or Bologna; I went there to the Polish military canteen for lunch. I found out that one of the serving ladies is Minister Beck's wife, Jadwiga Beckowa. She worked as a waitress.
I got up from the table and introduced myself to her. I kissed her hand and told her that I worked for the Foreign Office.
I told her:
"Ma'am, I'm embarrassed. I was carrying reports from political leaders in Poland in December 1939. These reports contained information about the minister. Then I found out that this was untrue information. But I was doing my duty. I swore I would repeat exactly what they told me to say."
Mrs. Beck looked at me and said:
"Well, I know that. But I want you to know that when you informed general Sikorski and professor Kot in Paris that Józef Beck lives in a palace, leads an exquisite life, is in contact with the German government, and there is a possibility that he would agree to head a collaborationist Polish government in the General Government, then my husband was seriously ill.
He could hardly walk and lay in bed in a cold room because we had no fuel. We lacked food, even toiletries. But I don't blame you."
She didn't shake my hand and walked away.
Emisariusz własnym słowami by Jan Karski, Maciej Wierzyński

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by gebhk » 09 Nov 2022 12:51

The legitimate investigations of the reasons for the September defeat, efforts to identify the people responsible for it (and for the dismantling of democracy), punish the guilty was something radically different from a witchhunt, as in:
That seems to be the very definition of a witchhunt. :wink: Whether it was legitimate is perhaps besides the point. The more important question is whether it was beneficial to Poland's cause. I would suggest it was quite the opposite. Aside from the reasons I gave earlier, it was grist to the mill of all those (and there were many) who did not wish the Polish government to succeed. In short it was a political mistake

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by Steve » 09 Nov 2022 17:20

Karski met Roosevelt in July 1943 and apparently stayed in America till the war ended. Rome was liberated June 4 1944 and Bologna was liberated by the Poles in April 1945. Therefore if he met Mrs Beck in a Polish military canteen in Rome or Bologna it was very likely after the war. Story of a Secret State makes no mention of anything after the war for the very good reason that it was published in 1944. Karski as far as I can ascertain after a quick skim through the 1944 version of the book makes no mention of Beck. Incidentally Karski had a high opinion of Sikorski.

Beck apparently did stay in a luxury hotel till the early summer of 1940 but was then transferred to a villa and then to a disused school building. His wife looked after him till he died June 5 1944. She then moved to Turkey then to Egypt where she worked for the Red Cross and then to Rome. If after the war Karski was in Italy while Polish military canteens were still operating there then perhaps he did meet Mrs Beck. Wikipedia has a piece on her in Polish but it translates to English.

I take it wm that you have a low opinion of Karski.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by wm » 09 Nov 2022 21:28

Beck was initially in Slănic, with the government and many other Poles, enjoying relative freedom of movement.
All the subsequent places of interment were progressively worse.
The second one was a hotel in the provincial Brașov (~70,000 souls), described as "the most decent" in the town - it probably didn't mean much considering Romania was one of the poorest countries in Europe.
Next was the villa - it was basically a shithole. And the school was worse.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by wm » 09 Nov 2022 21:38

gebhk wrote:
09 Nov 2022 12:51
That seems to be the very definition of a witchhunt. :wink: Whether it was legitimate is perhaps besides the point. The more important question is whether it was beneficial to Poland's cause. I would suggest it was quite the opposite. Aside from the reasons I gave earlier, it was grist to the mill of all those (and there were many) who did not wish the Polish government to succeed. In short it was a political mistake
Although the primacy of politics over law and justice was one of the defining characteristics of Nazism/communism.
Everyone, with no exceptions, interned suspected, potentially disruptive people during the war. The Americans, the French, the British, pre-war Poland.
The British interned by tens of thousands, including lots of innocent people - just in case. That they were offended by the Polish internment camp is rather unbelievable.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by Steve » 11 Nov 2022 00:27

Everyone interned people whose loyalty was questionable or were potential collaborators. So were the people Sikorski interned or gave no employment to or employment well below what could be expected potential traitors to their country? Clearly the answer is no so what happened to them was not for the same reason as for example why the British interned German nationals. Sikorski did what he did because he doubted their loyalty to him not to their country. It is clear in General Anders memoir that he trod a fine line with Sikorski and if Sikorski had had any doubts about Anders loyalty to him he would have been in trouble. That loyalty to a person is a bigger determinant for promotion than ability is not good.

There were rumours that an attempt would be made on Sikorski’s life during his trip to the Middle East and if his plane was sabotaged and it is a big if I would guess that the saboteurs were Polish.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by gebhk » 11 Nov 2022 10:29

Hi Steve - hmm that sounds a bit naive. Just as good a case can be made for a great many British officers being given no emplyment or employment beneath their capability (and, indeed vice versa) because they didn't (or did) see things the way Churchill and/or the establishment did. That loyalty to a person or group is a bigger determinant for promotion than ability is a universal fact of life in any hierarchical organisation. And let's not poke the 'Sikorski assassination conspiracy' pot - despite a complete lack of evidence that it was anything but a tragic accident, enough conspiracy nut level garbage has been generated over the years to fill a few municipal libraries. Let's not tempot fate into drowning this thread in more. The fact is that you can find equally (im)probable conspiracy theories with every nation under the sun bearing responsibility, including the little green men no doubt.

Hi WM - again I think you are being, perhaps, naive. It's not what the British housewife would think of it in the raw that matters but how it is spun. Eg - Hey - these guys can't be trusted - look even their own CiC doesn't trust half his own men! or 'Theyr'e all a bunch of traitors and criminals - here's the evidence'; or 'why are we feeding these people - half of them are just sitting around in jails doing nothing useful for us' etc, one could go on. All extremely useful ammunition when the time comes to justify ignoring an ally or just plain dumping him when he is no loger useful. The image of the whole Polish community as a back-biting, quarrelsome bunch more interested in fighting each other than the enemy, ditto. I can't imagine that the distasteful sight of Polish senior officers pursuing each other very publically through the courts for slander did anything for the reputation and standing of the Polish army......

By stoking up internal dissention, Sikorski made a big contribution to the Polish presence, in the UK in particular, descending into the 'grajdolkowe piekielko' that it did (sorry - it's untranslatable - roughly: a petty little emigree self-made hell). I should know, I was born into it. The resultant disunity was always going to make it much easier to exploit the Polish emigre government and its armed forces and then dump them, than if they had been united. Divise et regere.......

Finally, I think Steve makes a good point. For all their faults, I doubt that any of the men thus treated were disloyal to Poland or the cause of Polish freedom. Ironically, I am sure, those that were - enemy operatives and sympathisers - no doubt kept their heads down and were thankful that the security services were busyly occupied chasing down the politically incorrect rather than devoting all their attentions to them. Ho hum.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by Steve » 11 Nov 2022 19:21

“a great many British officers being given no emplyment or employment beneath their capability (and, indeed vice versa) because they didn't (or did) see things the way Churchill and/or the establishment did.”

Do you really believe gebhk that promotion in the British army was largely dependent on whether you were a supporter of Churchill or had supported say Chamberlin? What’s wrong with a good conspiracy theory to pass away the dreary British winter made worse by sanctions on Russia that have rebounded. Were little green men around in WW2? There were sightings of unidentified flying objects nicknamed Foo Fighters but I’ve not heard of little green men.

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Re: Sikorski - The French Connection and Internment Camps.

Post by gebhk » 15 Nov 2022 12:30

Do you really believe gebhk that promotion in the British army was largely dependent on whether you were a supporter of Churchill or had supported say Chamberlin?
Errm, not what I said. I said:
a great many British officers being given no emplyment or employment beneath their capability (and, indeed vice versa) because they didn't (or did) see things the way Churchill and/or the establishment did.
And to that I hold. And I don't think it is a particulalry controversial idea. On the other hand, about promotion in the British Army (and every other under the sun), I would reiterate what I actually wrote:
That loyalty to a person or group is a bigger determinant for promotion than ability is a universal fact of life in any hierarchical organisation.
And since I spent most of my working life in a hierarchical organisation, I can certainly speak from experience: my career did very well when the people I answered to shared my view of my role and were competent (well I would say the latter, wouldn't I?); my ability to do my job effectively was hampered at every turn and working life rapidly became unbearable when that changed.

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