By Gregory MacDonald
Iii Allied London, by Count Edward Raczynski (WeidenfeId & Nicolson, 36s.).
I N every sense Poland is a key country of Europe. During the s second world war it was, in Belloc's phrase, The Test: the test of the war aims of the Allies, the country under Nazi-Soviet aggression on whose behalf Britain entered the war and the primary victim of international policy when the war ended.
This is the diary of a man in a unique position to act in Poland's tragic but brilliant history. Count Edward Raczynski was Polish Ambassador in London from 1934 to 1945, and for some years Foreign Minister in one of the many Allied Governments to which London gladly gave hospitality. A trained diplomat as well as a patriot of deep emotion, he carried crushing responsibilities in the first months of the war as the representative of his country in defeat.
He was active in the formation of Sikorski's Government, first in Paris, then in London, and in the gathering of Polish forces in the Western theatres. But he had still to experience, seeking as a diplomat to be an objective judge of events, the sacrifices by which his countrymen gained world renown. while all the time their national interests were distorted by a propaganda to which politicians as well as the general public gave confused credence.
"The attempts of Polish diplomacy," he writes "to avert a tragedy for ourselves were, and were bound to be, fruitless, since they encountered two powerful obstacles: the brutal violence of Moscow, and the invincible reluctance of the Western Powers to defend their Allies. or even their own interests in Europe beyond its Western fringe."
These diary entries of a harassed man caught up in the tide of political and military events are neither complete nor continuous. They cover historic events such as the debate in the House of Commons on the first day of the war, the attempts of the Poles to reach agreement with Soviet Russia. the death of Sikorski and decline of Poland's diplomatic fortunes even while Warsaw was being immolated and the Poles were fighting victoriously on every front. (Some of the anti-Polish cartoons which are reproduced from the British Press make a sad commentary on this history.) But they also provide happier pictures of Count Raczynski's family life, of moving AngloPolish occasions, and of the supportgiven to the Poles by Cardinal Hinsley, the Duchess of Kent and many others.
It is typical of Count Raczynski, whose courage and honesty have won him deserved respect, that the diaries stand almost as they were written. no attempt being made to revise judgments subsequently proved wrong. The entries are linked by a well-written commentary which for the younger generation will throw light on a vital aspect of the war.
With good photographs and an appendix of docurmsnts this is a volume of interest both for the student and for the general reader.