Poland's old and new borders, 1945
Map showing the different borders and territories of Poland and Germany during the 20th century, with the current areas of Germany and Poland in dark gray
Władysław Sikorski, first Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile.
Destroyed Warsaw, January 1945
Standard of the President in exile.
The PKWN Manifesto, officially issued on 22 July 1944. In reality it was not finished until mid-August, after the Polish communist Moscow group was joined by the late-arriving Warsaw group, led by Gomułka and Bierut.
Postwar Polish communist propaganda poster depicting "The giant and the putrid reactionary midget", meaning the communist People's Army soldier and the pro-Western Home Army soldier, respectively
ORMO paramilitary police unit during street parade at the Victory Square, 9 June 1946, Warsaw
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
The show trial of Captain Witold Pilecki, sentenced to death and executed May 1948
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, initially called the Stalin's Palace, was a controversial gift from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Avenue of the Roses, Nowa Huta
1951 East German stamp commemorative of the Treaty of Zgorzelec establishing the Oder–Neisse line as a "border of peace", featuring the presidents Wilhelm Pieck (GDR) and Bolesław Bierut (Poland)
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Primate of Poland
Władysław Gomułka
The Fourth Congress of the Polish United Workers' Party, held in 1963
The Polski Fiat 125p, produced in Poland from the late 1960s, was based on technology purchased from Fiat
Standard-bearers of the 27 Tank Regiment, mid-1960s
Dziady, a theatrical event that spawned nationwide protests
Demonstrators in Gdynia carry the body of Zbigniew Godlewski, who was shot and killed during the protests of 1970
Edward Gierek
Queue line, a frequent scene at times of shortages of consumer goods in the 1970s and 1980s
Millions cheer Pope John Paul II in his first visit to Poland as pontiff in 1979
Lech Wałęsa speaks during the strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard, August 1980
25th anniversary of Solidarity, summer 2005 in Gdańsk
General Wojciech Jaruzelski led the People's Republic during its final decade and became one of the key players in the systemic transition of 1989–90
Apartment block residences built in People's Poland loom over the urban landscape of the entire country. In the past administratively distributed for permanent use, after 1989 most were sold to residents at discounted prices.
Adam Michnik, an influential leader in the transformation of Poland

Only after the end of Communist rule in Poland did the government-in-exile formally pass on its responsibilities to the new government of the Third Polish Republic in December 1990.

- Polish government-in-exile

A practically communist-controlled Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in Warsaw by ignoring the Polish government-in-exile based in London since 1940.

- History of Poland (1945–1989)

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Katyn-Kharkov-Mednoye memorial in Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Poland

Katyn massacre

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Series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia prisoners of war carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940.

Series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia prisoners of war carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940.

Katyn-Kharkov-Mednoye memorial in Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Poland
Map of the sites related to the Katyn massacre
Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov signs the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Behind him: Ribbentrop and Stalin.
Polish POWs captured by the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland
Memo from Beria to Stalin, proposing the execution of Polish officers
Aerial view of the Katyn massacre grave
Photo from 1943 exhumation of mass grave of Polish officers killed by NKVD in Katyń Forest
A mass grave at Katyn, 1943
Secretary of State of the Vichy regime Fernand de Brinon and others in Katyn at the graves of Mieczysław Smorawiński and Bronisław Bohatyrewicz, April 1943
Polish banknotes and epaulets recovered from mass graves
Katyn exhumation, 1943
British, Canadian, and American officers (POWs) brought by the Germans to view the exhumations
Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr communication on Katyn
Monument in Katowice, Poland, memorializing "Katyn, Kharkiv, Mednoye and other places of killing in the former USSR in 1940"
Ceremony of military upgrading of Katyn massacre victims, Piłsudski Square, Warsaw, 10 November 2007
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski laying wreaths at the Katyn massacre memorial complex, 11 April 2011

Stalin severed diplomatic relations with the London-based Polish government-in-exile when it asked for an investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Katyn was a forbidden topic in post-war Poland.

Poland

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Country in Central Europe.

Country in Central Europe.

A reconstruction of a Bronze Age, Lusatian culture settlement in Biskupin, 8th century BC
Poland under the rule of Mieszko I, whose acceptance of Christianity under the auspices of the Latin Church and the Baptism of Poland marked the beginning of statehood in 966.
Casimir III the Great is the only Polish king to receive the title of Great. He built extensively during his reign, and reformed the Polish army along with the country's legal code, 1333–70.
The Battle of Grunwald was fought against the German Order of Teutonic Knights, and resulted in a decisive victory for the Kingdom of Poland, 15 July 1410.
Wawel Castle in Kraków, seat of Polish kings from 1038 until the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596.
King John III Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna on 12 September 1683.
Stanisław II Augustus, the last King of Poland, reigned from 1764 until his abdication on 25 November 1795.
The partitions of Poland, carried out by the Kingdom of Prussia (blue), the Russian Empire (brown), and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy (green) in 1772, 1793 and 1795.
Chief of State Marshal Józef Piłsudski was a hero of the Polish independence campaign and the nation's premiere statesman from 1918 until his death on 12 May 1935.
Polish Army 7TP tanks on military manoeuvres shortly before the invasion of Poland in 1939
Pilots of the 303 Polish Fighter Squadron during the Battle of Britain, October 1940
Map of the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland with deportation routes and massacre sites. Major ghettos are marked with yellow stars. Nazi extermination camps are marked with white skulls in black squares. The border in 1941 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is marked in red.
At High Noon, 4 June 1989 — political poster featuring Gary Cooper to encourage votes for the Solidarity party in the 1989 elections
Flowers in front of the Presidential Palace following the death of Poland's top government officials in a plane crash on 10 April 2010
Topographic map of Poland
Morskie Oko alpine lake in the Tatra Mountains. Poland has one of the highest densities of lakes in the world.
The wisent, one of Poland's national animals, is commonly found at the ancient and UNESCO-protected Białowieża Forest.
The Sejm is the lower house of the parliament of Poland.
The Constitution of 3 May adopted in 1791 was the first modern constitution in Europe.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located in Warsaw
Polish Air Force F-16s, a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft
A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter patrol van belonging to the Polish State Police Service (Policja)
The Old City of Zamość is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
PKP Intercity Pendolino at the Wrocław railway station
Physicist and chemist Maria Skłodowska-Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.
Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century Polish astronomer who formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system.
Population of Poland from 1900 to 2010 in millions of inhabitants
Dolina Jadwigi — a bilingual Polish-Kashubian road sign with the village name
John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła, held the papacy between 1978-2005 and was the first Pole to become a Roman Catholic Pope.
Jagiellonian University in Kraków
The Polish White Eagle is Poland's enduring national and cultural symbol
All Saints' Day on 1 November is one of the most important public holidays in Poland.
Lady with an Ermine (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci. It symbolises Poland's cultural heritage and identity.
Selection of hearty traditional comfort food from Poland, including bigos, gołąbki, żurek, pierogi, placki ziemniaczane, and rye bread.
Traditional polonaise dresses, 1780–1785.
Andrzej Wajda, the recipient of an Honorary Oscar, the Palme d'Or, as well as Honorary Golden Lion and Golden Bear Awards.
Headquarters of the publicly funded national television network TVP in Warsaw
The Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw, home of the national football team, and one of the host stadiums of Euro 2012.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent in 1619

In the wake of anti-communist movements in 1989, notably through the emergence and contributions of the Solidarity movement, the communist government was dissolved and Poland re-established itself as a democratic republic.

Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution in Europe, and its troops served both the Polish Government in Exile in the west and Soviet leadership in the east.

Polish People's Republic

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Country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland.

Country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland.

The Polish People's Republic in 1989
Poland's fate was heavily discussed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Joseph Stalin, whose Red Army occupied the entire country, presented several alternatives which granted Poland industrialized territories in the west whilst the Red Army simultaneously permanently annexed Polish territories in the east, resulting in Poland losing over 20% of its pre-war borders - areas primarily inhabited by ethnic Belarusians or Ukrainians. Soviet-backed Polish communists came to power and oversaw the country's entry into the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
Border changes of Poland after World War II. The eastern territories (Kresy) were annexed by the Soviets. The western territories, referred to as the "Recovered Territories", were granted as war reparations. Despite the western lands being more industrialized, Poland lost 77,035 km2 (29,743 sq mi) and major cities like Lviv and Vilnius.
The 1970 Polish protests were put down by the Communist authorities and Citizens' Militia. The riots resulted in the deaths of 42 people and over 1,000 injured.
Queues waiting to enter grocery stores in Warsaw and other Polish cities and towns were typical in the late 1980s. The availability of food and goods varied at times, and the most sought after basic item was toilet paper.
The new Warszawa Centralna railway station in Warsaw had automatic doors and escalators. It was a flagship project during the 1970s economic boom and was dubbed the most modern station in Europe at the time of its completion in 1975.
Lech Wałęsa co-founded and headed the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism. He later became the President of Poland.
The 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard Strike and subsequent Summer 1981 Hunger Demonstrations were instrumental in strengthening the Solidarity movement's influence.
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
Władysław Gomułka and Leonid Brezhnev in East Berlin, 1967
An abandoned State Agricultural Farm in south-eastern Poland. State farms were a form of collective farming created in 1949.
Łódź was Poland's largest city after the destruction of Warsaw during World War II. It was also a major industrial centre in Europe and served as the temporary capital due to its economic significance in the 1940s.
Female textile workers in a state-run factory, Łódź, 1950s
Supersam Warsaw, the first self-serve shopping centre in Poland, 1969
Pewex, a chain of hard currency stores which sold unobtainable Western goods and items
Ration cards for sugar, 1977
Bar mleczny, a former milk bar in Gdynia. These canteens offered value meals to citizens throughout Communist Poland.
Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribune) was a government-sponsored newspaper and propaganda outlet
Andrzej Wajda was a key figure in Polish cinematography during and after the fall of communism
Allegory of communist censorship, Poland, 1989. Newspapers visible are from all Eastern Bloc countries including East Germany, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia
The 237-meter Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, constructed in 1955. At the time of its completion it was one of the tallest buildings in Europe
Smyk Department Store, 1960s
Polish university students during lecture, 1964
One of many schools constructed in central Warsaw in the 1960s
Jerzy Popiełuszko was a Roman Catholic priest who supported the anti-communist opposition. He was murdered by the Security Services "SB" of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
A demographics graph illustrating population growth between 1900 and 2010. The highest birth rate was during the Second Polish Republic and consequently under the Polish People's Republic.
A typical socialist apartment building in Warsaw representing the style of functionalism, built due to the ever-growing population and high birth rate at the time
Konstantin Rokossovsky, pictured in a Polish uniform, was Marshal of the Soviet Union and Marshal of Poland until being deposed during the Polish October in 1956.
Poland's old and new borders, 1945

He had severed relations with the Polish government-in-exile in London in 1943, but to appease Roosevelt and Churchill he agreed at Yalta that a coalition government would be formed.

During the Gierek era, Poland borrowed large sums from Western creditors in exchange for promise of social and economic reforms.

The "Piast eagle" worn by Polish Army Formations in the East, 1943–1945

Polish Armed Forces in the East

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The Polish Armed Forces in the East (Polskie Siły Zbrojne na Wschodzie), also called Polish Army in the USSR, were the Polish military forces established in the Soviet Union during World War II.

The Polish Armed Forces in the East (Polskie Siły Zbrojne na Wschodzie), also called Polish Army in the USSR, were the Polish military forces established in the Soviet Union during World War II.

The "Piast eagle" worn by Polish Army Formations in the East, 1943–1945
Polish volunteers to the army of Władysław Anders, released from a Soviet POW camp
Generals Karol Świerczewski (front), Marian Spychalski and Michał Rola-Żymierski
Soldiers of the Polish Second Army in the area of the Lusatian Neisse River after fording it in April 1945
Polish Army tanks riding to Berlin in 1945.

Anders' Army, created in the second half of 1941, was loyal to the Polish government-in-exile.

After the war, the Polish People's Army became the military of communist-ruled Poland.

German and Soviet soldiers stroll around Sambir after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland.

Occupation of Poland (1939–1945)

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Formally concluded with the defeat of Germany by the Allies in May 1945.

Formally concluded with the defeat of Germany by the Allies in May 1945.

German and Soviet soldiers stroll around Sambir after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland.
Expulsion of Poles from western Poland, with Poles led to the trains under German army escort, 1939.
Public execution of Polish civilians randomly caught in a street roundup in German-occupied Bydgoszcz, September 1939
Nur für Deutsche ("For Germans only") sign, on Kraków line-8 streetcar
Polish teachers guarded by members of ethnic German Selbstschutz battalion before execution
Polish Franciscan, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, at Auschwitz, volunteered to die in place of another prisoner.
1941 announcement of death penalty for Jews caught outside the Ghetto, and for Poles helping Jews
Photos from The Black Book of Poland, published in London in 1942 by the Polish government-in-exile.
Public execution of Polish priests and civilians in Bydgoszcz's Old Market Square on 9 September 1939.
Boys' roll call at main children's concentration camp in Łódź (Kinder-KZ Litzmannstadt). A sub-camp was KZ Dzierżązna, for Polish girls as young as eight.
Earliest World War II partisan unit, commanded by Henryk "Hubal" Dobrzański, winter 1939
German Panther tank captured by the Poles during 1944 Warsaw Uprising, with Batalion Zośka armored platoon commanded by Wacław Micuta
Walling-off Świętokrzyska Street seen from Marszałkowska Street on the 'Aryan side' of the Warsaw Ghetto, 1940
Identifying ethnic German prisoners massacred by Soviet secret police NKVD near Tarnopol, July 1941
Sovietization propaganda poster addressed to the Ukrainian population residing within Polish borders. The text reads "Electors of the working people! Vote for joining of Western Ukraine into the Soviet Ukraine"
Residents of a town in Eastern Poland (now West Belarus) assembled to greet the arrival of the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. The Russian text reads "Long Live the great theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin-Stalin" and contains a spelling error. Such welcomings were organized by the activists of the Communist Party of West Belarus affiliated with the Communist Party of Poland, delegalized in both countries by 1938.
During 1942–1945, nearly 30,000 Poles were deported by the Soviet Union to Karachi (then under British rule). This photo shows a memorial to the refugees who died in Karachi and were buried at the Karachi graveyard.
Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East, Warsaw
Polish-forced-workers' badge
Poster in German and Polish listing decrees of labour obligations
Notice of death penalty for Poles refusing to work during harvest

Despite the military defeat of the Polish Army in September 1939, the Polish government itself never surrendered, instead evacuating West, where it formed the Polish government in Exile.

To this day the events of those and the following years are one of the stumbling blocks in Polish-Russian foreign relations.

Wanda Wasilewska

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Polish and Soviet novelist and journalist and a left-wing political activist.

Polish and Soviet novelist and journalist and a left-wing political activist.

Memorial plaque in Kiev

Wasilewska was a trusted consultant to Joseph Stalin and her influence was essential to the establishment of the Polish Committee of National Liberation in July 1944 and to the formation of the Polish People's Republic.

After the Soviets suspended relations with the Polish government-in-exile in late April 1943 (following the revelations of the Katyn massacre), Wasilewska wrote an article in Izvestia sharply critical of the Polish government, which was taken as a sign that no Soviet-Polish government rapprochement was in the offing.

Shoulder sleeve insignia of the Polish Armed Forces in the West

Polish Armed Forces in the West

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The Polish Armed Forces in the West (Polskie Siły Zbrojne na Zachodzie) refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II.

The Polish Armed Forces in the West (Polskie Siły Zbrojne na Zachodzie) refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II.

Shoulder sleeve insignia of the Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish soldiers welcomed by the residents of Breda, Netherlands, 1944
Universal Carrier of the Polish Armed Forces in the West (reenacting)
Polish military grave (the text reads "unknown soldiers") in the cemetery at Grainville-Langannerie, France
No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron
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126 German airplanes shot down by the 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. Painted on a Hurricane.
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The formations, loyal to the Polish government-in-exile, were first formed in France and its Middle East territories following the defeat and occupation of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939.

The formation was disbanded in 1947, many of its soldiers choosing to remain in exile rather than to return to communist-controlled Poland, where they were often seen by the Polish communists as "enemies of the state", influenced by the Western ideas, loyal to the Polish government in exile, and thus meeting with persecution and imprisonment (in extreme cases, death).