• Andrea Mason
Part of the Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World book series (SCCCW)


During the Second World War, the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, and the foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, made a series of promises to support the Polish government-in-exile in restoring Poland’s political and territorial sovereignty after hostilities had ended. This wartime commitment constituted the basis for British support for the Polish opposition in establishing a democratic political system free of Soviet interference in the immediate postwar period. Ultimately, British influence over the postwar political settlement was limited by Britain’s declining economic and diplomatic strength: the new Labour foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, confronted multiplying global responsibilities with ever diminishing resources, and by 1947 chose to disengage from Poland. British withdrawal from Poland was also hastened by Bevin’s effort to improve Anglo-Soviet relations by eliminating all the points of dispute except those which affected essential British strategic and economic interests. The dispute over the future of Germany was particularly significant in conditioning Bevin’s decision to extricate the Polish question from Anglo-Soviet relations. The British withdrawal from Poland lasted until the mid-1950s, when a process of liberalisation in Poland brought about a re-evaluation of British policy towards the East European "satellite states".

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Mason
    • 1
  1. 1.LSE Department of International HistoryLondonUK

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