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2. Poland. Ministerstwo Informacji i Dokumentacji, 1939-1945



Correspondence, reports, bulletins, memoirs, and photographs, relating to conditions in Poland during World War II, deportation of Poles to the Soviet Union, the Katyn Forest Massacre, and activities of Polish armed forces and of the Polish Government-in-Exile. Includes release certificates and reports of several thousand Polish deportees released from the Soviet Union in 1941.


The origins of the Ministry of Information and Documentation go back to the inception of the Polish government in exile in October 1939 in Paris. At first it had neither a definite organizational structure nor a name. It was referred to as the Office (urzad) or Bureau of Information and Documentation. By April 1940, the unit was named Center of Information and Documentation, and in September 1940 the Center was reorganized into the Ministry of Information and Documentation, a designation it carried for the remainder of the war and in the years that followed.

During the early months of its existence the office, comprised of information and documentation sections, was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Stanislaw Stronski, who was directly in charge of its documentation section. The information section was headed by Minister Marian Seyda. Stanislaw Stronski was in charge of the Ministry of Information and Documentation until March 1943, when his position was taken over by Stanislaw Kot, who headed the Ministry in the cabinet of Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, until the resignation of that government in November 1944. Kot's successor was Adam Pragier, who was Minister of Information and Documentation until 1949.

The Ministry of Information and Documentation was the main information and propaganda unit of the Polish government in exile. It coordinated and facilitated the dissemination of information in support of the Polish war effort through its publishing and radio programs. The Ministry also documented and analyzed the conditions and developments in occupied Poland. One of its units, for example, the Research Section headed by Wiktor Sukiennicki, was assigned the task of systematically reviewing and summarizing the testimonies of former Polish prisoners and deportees to Soviet Russia, with a view to document the entry of the Red Army into Poland, the first weeks of Soviet occupation, the October 1939 "elections", and the consequent sovietization of the occupied territories. Thousands of original Soviet camp release certificates, statements of survivors, and detailed summaries of Soviet occupation compiled by the Research Section for every county of Eastern Poland, make up about forty percent of the volume of the Ministry's collection.

Most of the archives of the Ministry of Information and Documentation, together with those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were moved from London to Dublin at the end of the war, and remained in storage for more than a decade. In 1959, in keeping with the agreement reached between the Hoover Institution and Aleksander Zawisza, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Polish government in exile, the archives were shipped to their new home at Stanford.

The collection of the Ministry of Information and Documentation in the Hoover Institution Archives occupies about 31 linear meters. A smaller portion of the Ministry's archives, 3.6 linear meters, is preserved in the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London. Two Hoover collections in large measure complement the archives of the Ministry of Information. One of these is the Wladyslaw Anders Collection, consisting mostly of over 18,000 statements and reports of former Polish prisoners and deportees to Soviet Russia. The other collection is that of the Polish Government Information Center (Polskie Rzadowe Centrum Informacyjne), the New York agency of the Ministry of Information and Documentation.

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