Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lucia The 2nd Polish Corps and the London Victory Parade [update 2]

I was asked yesterday (by Kowtow) on DPF's General Debate for more information about the Polish II Corps denied a place in the Victory Parade in London after WWII.

I found the following from Polish veterans to take pride of place in victory parade, which shows when and why Poland was excluded.  It was because Stalin wished it so.
Among the veterans who will march along The Mall on Sunday [July 2005] in a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war, few will participate with the same pride as a contingent of elderly Poles.
For the Poles and their military standards will be present for the first time in a British victory parade. Even though Poland made one of the largest contributions to the Allied war effort and there were thousands of Polish troops stationed in the UK at the time, the country was excluded from the original London celebration in 1946.
Stalin, who had established communist rule in eastern Europe, indicated that he did not wish Poland to be represented and the British authorities agreed for fear of offending their ally.

Today Kowtow expressed relief that this dishonour occurred 1946, after Churchill was no longer in power, having been replaced by the socialist Atlee.  However, the denial of a place in the victory parade was just visible confirmation of the policy that had been in place towards Poland for a number of years previously.  The alliance with Soviet Russia became paramount in the desire to first defeat Germany, while as Poland became collateral damage.

The one book I really recommend to truly understand what happened is by General Władysław Anders: An Army in Exile: The Story of the Second Polish Corps (Allied Forces Series). He conversed a number of times with Churchill, and various members of the British Government during the war, and relates some of those conversations in the book.

All in all, as the introduction by Harold Macmillan states: "No Englishman or American can read this record without a sense not only of sympathy, but of something like shame." 

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