Polish Resettlement Act 1947
When the Second World War ended, a Communist government was installed in Poland. Most Poles felt betrayed by their wartime allies, and refused to return to Poland, because of the Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939–1946), Soviet conduct around the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the Trial of the Sixteen and other executions of pro-democracy Poles, particularly the former members of the Home Army. The result was the Polish Resettlement Act 1947, the UK's first mass immigration law. Initially a very large community was centred around Swindon, due to the fact many military personnel has been stationed there during the war.
Large numbers, after occupying resettlement camps of the Polish Resettlement Corps, later settled in London, many recruited as European Volunteer Workers. Others settled in the British Empire, forming large Polish Canadian and Polish Australian communities.
In the 1951 Census of the UK, the Polish-born population of the UK numbered some 162,339, up from 44,642 in 1931.
The relaxation of travel restrictions to and from Poland saw a steady increase in Polish migration to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Brixton, Earls Court and Lewisham were a few of the London areas where they settled. As these communities grew, it was felt by the Polish Catholic hierarchy and the English and Scottish hierarchies that Polish priests should settle and minister specifically to the spiritual needs of the Polish people. The first such parish was Brockley-Lewisham in 1951 and today there are 10 Polish parishes in London, in places such as Balham and Ealing. Thriving parishes also exist in many other UK towns and cities.
The longer established communities that ensued after the church established itself were mainly set up by former members of the Polish Resettlement Corps in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Around the hub of a Polish church would be Polish clubs, cultural centres as well as a variety of adult and youth organisations such as the Ex-Combatants (SPK), the Polish Youth Group (KSMP) and the Polish Scouting Movement (ZHP pgk). The original aims of these organisations was to ensure a continuation of Polish language, culture and heritage for the children of the ex-PRC members. Many of these groups are still active and steps are being taken to attract newer Polish migrants.
The Polish Government in London was not dissolved until 1991, when a freely elected president took office in Warsaw. The Polish people fought hard to combat communism, and for their right to liberty. Previously a base to fight against the communist regime in Poland, London came to be seen as an important centre to foster business and political relations.
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