Józef Beck


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(b. 4 Oct. 1894, d. 5 June 1944).

Polish Foreign Minister 1932–9 Born in Warsaw, as a protégé of Pilsudski he played an important part in his government after 1926. As Foreign Minister, and especially after Pilsudski's death in 1935, he determined the country's controversial policy of trying to remain on equally good terms with both its aggressive neighbours. He concluded non‐aggression pacts with the USSR (1932) and Germany (1934), rather than allying Poland with one of these powers against the other. Ultimately, both powers equally disregarded Poland's sovereignty in the Hitler–Stalin Pact, and carved up the country between them in September 1939. To what extent this outcome was the result of Beck's policies has remained subject to intense debate, though it is doubtful if any policy could have kept Hitler out of Poland for long. Beck fled to Romania, where he was interned until his death.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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