Churchill acclaimed UK resident Polish soldiers ‘men of our own blood’, yet the British turned them into serfs

During the Second World War, many Polish people fled to the United Kingdom, and after the war came to an end, they were joined by their family. Britain ostensibly welcomed the Polish people into Britain, for they had fought in the British army alongside the British soldiers, against the Germans. In 1945 Winston Churchill, making a speech in Yalta, claimed, “In any event, His Majesty’s Government will never forget the debt they owe to the Polish troops who have served them so valiantly, and for those who have fought under our command, I earnestly hope that it may be possible to offer the citizenship of and freedom of the British Empire, if they so desire……But as far as we are concerned, we should think it an honour to have such faithful and valiant warriors dwelling among us as if they were men of our own blood.”

However in practice, they were despised and hated, and the government passed several laws to make life for them in this country difficult and painful. Belinda Brown explains, “Of those who remained attempts to integrate Poles into civilian life occurred under conditions which were very unfavourable to them. One of the stipulations was that no Pole should be employed in any grade in any industry where British labour was available. However even where attempts were made to recruit them into industries such as mining or farm labouring where there were severe labour shortages, tremendous resistance from the unions meant that little recruitment took place…. Employment was also rendered inaccessible by the policy of accommodating Poles in service camps located in rural areas far from the employment centres. The idea of building new camps closer to employment areas was rejected on account of the resistance expressed by local people. Conditions in the camps were recognised as being well below the standards which would be accepted by any British working man. However they were kept there for as long as possible in the hope that this might encourage them to go home.”

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