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Polish Soldiers, Italy

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 22 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that British Headquarters in Italy have issued an order that all Polish soldiers in Italy are to be demobilised by 1st May and sent to the Displaced Persons camp in Italy; that the effect of this order will be that persons so treated will receive no further pay, no identity cards and suffer living conditions which involve inadequate housing accommodation and food reduced to a standard of 1,200 calories; that threats have been made that they will be sent back to concentration camps in Poland, in breach of the undertaking given by His Majesty's Government that soldiers belonging to General Anders' army shall not be sent back to Poland against their will; and whether he will rectify this position.

I presume the hon. Member is referring to certain members of the Polish armed forces who married Italian wives and who have been demobilised in Italy in order that where possible those who did not wish to return to Poland should be enabled to settle there. Their demobilisation has been effected in agreement with the Italian Government who have agreed to the residence in Italy, subject to the usual conditions affecting foreigners, of those Poles with Italian wives who have obtained permanent employment there. Many of the remainder, however, wish to emigrate from Italy. The Italian Government is prepared to allow them to remain temporarily in Italy while arrangements are made for their settlement or emigration.

The Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees has undertaken to maintain, on behalf and at the expense of His Majesty's Government, any of such persons in need of accommodation and support pending the completion of arrangements for emigration, which are in active preparation. Their daily ration amounts to 2,200 calories, not counting fresh fruit and vegetables. They are being treated on substantially the same basis as the Poles who are being settled here or overseas through the Polish Resettlement Corps. I am not aware that any threats have been made to send these men back to Poland.