He was with his countrymen till the end
President Ryszard Kaczorowski was almost a peer of the restored Poland (born in the year 1918). He was born in Bialystok on 26 November 1919. He belonged to the gentry, having the Jelita coat of arms.
After the Red Army seized Bialystok in 1939 he created the Grey Ranks (Polish underground scouting association) and was the head of the Bialystok region. Arrested in 1940 by the NKWD for his underground activities he was imprisoned in Bialystok and then in Minsk.
The Soviet ‘court’ sentenced him to death. Waiting for the execution he spent 100 days in the death cell. The sentence was changed to ten years in the forced labour camps. He survived thanks to his faith in God and hope for better future. His camp gehenna ended after the Sikorski-Majski pact had been signed in September 1941. He joined the army of General Wladyslaw Anders. He began service in the communication unit of the 9th Infantry Division. He fought in most battles of the Polish Second Corps, including the battle of Monte Cassino. It was him that gave the news about the seizure of Monte Cassino by the Polish forces on 18 May 1944. On that day he was on the top, in the Monte Cassino monastery.
After the war he decided to be an immigrant in England. He completed the Foreign Trade School. From the beginning he tried to organize and educate Polish youth, support the Polish families who came from the camps in Africa and India. The Polish life developed on various levels of our immigration life. Throughout all the time, despite being a member of the Polish Scouting Union, he belonged to the Polish Veterans’ Association that gathered all former Polish soldiers, to the Council of the Institute of Catholic Action and to the Polish Educational Society. He was the Chief Scout in the years 1955-67 and then the President of the Polish Scouting Union (ZHP) in exile in the years 1967-88. He also presided the Polish delegation for the International Jubilee Jamboree in 1957 and he was the commander of the World Scouting Gathering at Monte Cassino in 1969 and in Belgium in 1982. Then he was appointed to the National Council that was a parliament-in-exile. He was appointed the Minister for Home Affairs. In 1988 President Kazimierz Sabbat named him as his constitutional successor.
He could come to Poland only in 1990, after the free elections of the first Polish president. Then he handed over the insignia of the presidential power of the Second Republic to Lech Walesa. During his visit to Bialystok in 1991 John Paul II told Kaczorowski, ‘Please thank the Polish government that it preserved Poland’s sovereignty.’
President Ryszard Kaczorowski was an honorary citizen of several dozen cities in Poland. In 2004 Queen Elisabeth II appointed him to the Order of St Michael and St George an Honorary Knight Grand Cross for his exceptional contribution to the community of Polish émigrés.
The death sentence, which the NKWD had not conducted in 1940, fell on him 70 years later on the same land. What symbolism is in that.