General Władysław Sikorski's appeal to the Polish People (6 October 1939)

The appeal from 6 October 1939 was made in one of the most dramatic moments in the Polish history. The Polish Army had been completely defeated over the previous month. Poland was being attacked from the west, north and south by the Third Reich and from the east by the Soviet Army, which made it completely impossible to organise any resistance. The civil and military authorities had been interned in Romania. This is also where the main figures on the Polish pre-war political arena found themselves, including President Ignacy Mościcki or Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army Edward Rydz-Śmigły.

In the face of the internment, which prevented him from serving his role, the president decided – in accordance with the Polish Constitution of 1935 – to appoint his successor during wartime. He chose General Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski, Polish Ambassador in Rome. The French and British authorities, however, voted against the decision, which posed a threat of a serious political crisis. Mościcki therefore changed his decision and appointed Władysław Raczkiewicz, who in turn entrusted Władysław Sikorski, a representative of pre-war opposition, with the mission of leading the government. The new Prime Minister was not associated with the defeat but was still a well-known figure both in Poland and abroad and a person trusted by the Allies.

Sikorski formed a government of national unity, which included representatives of both the Sanation movement and the opposition: socialists, Christian Democrats, peasant movement activists and nationalists. The appeal from 6 October 1939 was a very important and symbolic sign of the continuity of the Polish government being maintained despite the defeat. The new government was consistent in their readiness to keep fighting the Germans at the side of Great Britain and France, and at the same time called for all Poles to continue the fight. Polish people would respond to this call by volunteering to join Polish Army units established in the allied states and organising resistance in the country.


The text of the appeal