Faits Accomplis, and the Aftermath

Faits Accomplis, is a phase originating from the French language, literally meaning ‘accomplished fact’, and defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, “a thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept”.  Poland’s fear of losing its eastern borderland to the Soviets was becoming a reality.

The second of three nails in the Poland’s coffin for land protection and independence came as news broke of the Yalta Conference in February, 1945. ‘The Big Three’ as they were known, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin decided that Germany was to be to be disarmed and divided into four occupation zones; eastern Polish borders were to be set to the advantage of the Soviets; and the  U.S.S.R. pledged to hold free elections in Eastern Europe.

The decision about the eastern borders dealt the Polish soldiers a crushing blow.

General Anders sent a telegram to the  President of the Polish Republic and a letter to the commanding general of the British Eighth Army in essence saying that he, Anders, can not in good conscience continue to put his soldiers in harm’s way and expect additional sacrifices from them when the three powers unilaterally decided to surrender the eastern territories of Poland to the Soviets. This region was invaded by the Soviets in 1939 with thousands of its inhabitants arrested and deported to Siberia. Keep in mind that the majority of the soldiers in the Second Corps were from this region, which now would not be Poland.

Being the consummate soldier that he was, General Anders assured the British command that he would never abandon the Eighth Army by putting them in jeopardy with his refusal to fight.  But at the same time, how could he answer his soldiers when asked, why they should continue to shed their blood?

The Polish Government in London made the decision to continue to fight side by side with the Allies against Germany until final victory.  At this time General Anders was appointed acting Commander-in-Chief of all Polish Armed Forces and made a public statement to his troops, commending them for their sacrifices, in all battles and how they have upheld honor for their country.  If someone asks them what they are fighting for, “answer them that the Polish soldier is fighting today for the same ideal for which he went to war five years: to prevent, in our country and in the whole world, that might prevails over right.”

The other worrisome situation was that all of Poland had now been liberated by the Red Army.

Italy Army photo

My parents in the middle – somewhere in Italy, 1945.

On the world stage, the Polish Government in London tried to engage Stalin to discuss future peace-time neighborly relations, between two sovereign nations.  The very next day a statement came out about an agreement that Stalin had signed with the puppet Government in Warsaw, thus rejecting the authority of the legitimate and free government of Poland.

When Victory Day came in Europe in May 1945, for Poles, there was no victory.  This was further enforced by the Potsdam Peace Conference held in July 1945.

Attending the conference for the United States was President Truman because President Roosevelt died a few weeks before the end of the war. The other participants were Stalin, Churchill as well as the new Prime Minster Attlee who replaced Churchill as  his Conservative Party lost the British election. It was decided that the German people in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland were to be transferred to Germany and its new boundaries, and Stalin announced that there would be no free elections in Eastern Europe.

Potsdam was the third and final blow to Poland.  The decisions of Potsdam were viewed by most Polish citizens as Britain and the United States ‘appeasing Russia’. Polish territory was lost, but also any hope of having an independent nation.  Poland’s fear of losing their eastern borderland and their independence had become a reality and was the faits accomplis.

Another betrayal by Britain which was humiliating for the Poles, was Britain’s refusal to allow the free Polish Army to march in the victory parade in London at the end of the war for fear that it would offend the Stalin’s puppet government in Poland.

In Rome with friends

Mama and Tatus, on the right in front of the Colosseum.

Poland would now be ruled by a communist government, thus suffering under another oppressor, worse by some accounts than under German oppression.  At this time there were a million displaced Polish citizens scattered all over the world and the majority did not want to go back to oppressive conditions.  In fact many young Polish men were leaving the country to avoid deportation to Siberia or worse, execution.  Even while many were leaving their country and the majority of others refusing to return, there were  those who wanted to repatriate back to their homeland. In 1945, of the 112,000 men in the Polish Second Corps only seven officers and 14,200 men applied for repatriation.  Of those 14,200, only 310 were from the original recruits out of Russian prisons and labor camps.

Tatus and Mama at the Spanish Steps – Rome.

However, it was the British position that all Polish soldiers should repatriate back to Poland, despite their future safety in jeopardy.  My parents had definitely decided not to go back to their country for fear of rearrest. But now what ?  Where would they go? Were they doomed to be displaced persons / refugees forever in exile?

Here it was May 1946, a year after the war ended and the Polish Army in Italy had not demobilized. Since they, the close to 100,000 soldiers, had nowhere to go, they wanted to remain an Army and have some country take responsibility for them.  The good news was that no one was forced to repatriate against their will. Great Britain, after much time, and to her credit, was the only country to realize that there was a moral obligation to the soldiers who fought so long along side the Allies, and would help those who feared to return home. A year after the end of WWII, the order came down from London that the Polish Armed Forces were to be transported to Great Britain and demobilized. This was the beginning of the Polish Resettlement Corps, and this is how my parents landed in Great Britain after the war.  My mother left Italy in the summer of 1946 and my dad in the fall of 1946.  Ironically, my grandparents and aunt returned to Poland from Kazakhstan and were resettled in former German territory in June 1946, territory which became Poland.

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