Lipski trained as a lawyer, and joined the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1925.
One of his first assignments in 1934 was work on the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact. In 1937 he attended the Berlin premiere of the historical film Ride to Freedom, which had been made with the co-operation of the Polish authorities.
Lipski met with German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop at Berchtesgaden, Hitler's mountain retreat, on 24 October 1938. Ribbentrop demanded that Poland agree to the German annexation of the Free City of Danzig; Lipski refused. According to AJP Taylor, just days before the German invasion of Poland, Lipski refused to get out of bed, despite the urging of British diplomats, to meet with von Ribbentrop to hear Germany's latest demands of Poland. The anecdote illustrates the attitude of Józef Beck towards Hitler's tactic of making demands and raising the stakes: Poland would not play that game. Under British pressure to negotiate a solution to the Danzig crisis, Lipski eventually phoned to ask for an interview with Ribbentrop on 31 August 1939, but upon learning that Lipski would be present only as an ambassador, rather than as a plenipotentiary, the meeting was refused. Poland was invaded the next day. According to Taylor, the Germans were aware of Lipski's limited negotiating authority.
During the Second World War, Lipski fought as a volunteer (Polish 1st Grenadiers Division in France) and later joined the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces in the West. In 1951 Lipski moved to the USA and represented the Polish Government in Exile.
- Feigue Cieplinski, "Poles and Jews: the Quest for Self-Determination, 1919-1934," Binghamton Journal of History, fall 2002, last accessed 2 June 2006.
- Richard Overy, The Road to War, MacMillan London: 1989
- AJP Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War, London: 1961
- Diplomat in Berlin, 1933-1939: Papers and Memoirs of Jozef Lipski, Ambassador of Poland, by Jozef Lipski, edited by Waclaw Jedrzejewicz. Columbia University Press, New York 1968.
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