Abstract

The author attempts to compare existing interpretations of the origins, political objectives, and course of the secret mission to occupied Poland undertaken by Józef Hieronim Retinger in the first half of 1944 with source materials presently available in Polish and British archives. During this source reconstruction the author established that the genesis of the mission should be identified in the events of 1943, when decisions by the superpowers (later confirmed in Tehran) concerning the future place of Poland in postwar Europe were taken. The objective of Retinger’s mission was to provide information on those decisions to politicians in the occupied country, and also to convince them to come to an agreement with the Soviet Union so that Poland could retain internal sovereignty in exchange for concessions on the future shape of its borders. Retinger himself proposed this dangerous adventure, obtaining the approval of Stanisław Mikołajczyk, Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile. Anthony Eden, head of the UK’s Foreign Office, personally approved the political aims of the mission, while the British Special Operations Executive supplied the means for it to be conducted, such as outbound and inbound special flights. While in the country Retinger met with a number of leading politicians, and in that sense his mission was fulfilled. On the political plane his arguments were rejected, and there was even an attempt on Retinger’s life engineered by Polish secret services.

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