Walery Sławek

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Walery Sławek
Walery slawek.jpg
Walery Sławek
Prime Minister of Poland
In office
29 March 1930 – 23 August 1930
Preceded by Kazimierz Bartel
Succeeded by Józef Piłsudski
Prime Minister of Poland
In office
5 December 1930 – 26 May 1931
Preceded by Józef Piłsudski
Succeeded by Aleksander Prystor
Prime Minister of Poland
In office
28 March 1935 – 12 October 1935
Preceded by Leon Kozłowski
Succeeded by Marian Zyndram-Kościałkowski
Sejm Marshal
In office
22 June 1938 – 27 November 1938
Preceded by Stanisław Car
Succeeded by Wacław Makowski
Personal details
Born Walery Jan Sławek
(1879-11-02)2 November 1879
Strutynka, Podolia
Died 3 April 1939(1939-04-03) (aged 59)
Warsaw, Poland
Resting place Powązki Military Cemetery
Nationality Polish
Political party Polish Socialist Party
Occupation Politician, soldier
Religion Roman Catholicism

Walery Jan Sławek (Polish pronunciation: [vaˈlɛrɨ ˈjan ˈswavɛk] ( ); 2 November 1879 Strutynka – 3 April 1939 Warsaw) was a Polish politician, military officer and activist, who in the early 1930s served three times as Prime Minister of Poland. He was one of the closest aides of Polish leader, Józef Piłsudski.


Polish government in 1930 (Sławek is sitting fifth from left)

He was a member of the Combat Organisation of the Polish Socialist Party and in 1908 Sławek had taken part in the Bezdany raid organised and led by Józef Piłsudski — a train robbery that had financed Piłsudski's organisation.

He was active in the Komisja Tymczasowa Skonfederowanych Stronnictw Niepodległościowych (Temporary Commission of Confederated Independence Parties) from 1912-1914. After the oath crisis in 1917 he was detained by the Germans. He was released on 12 November 1918.

During the Polish-Soviet War he was the chief of military intelligence. In 1928 he created the Non-partisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government. On 30 March 1930 he became the Prime Minister of Poland. He resigned on 23 August the same year, but he returned to office on 4 December. He resigned once again on 26 May 1931. He commenced his third term as prime minister on the 28 March 1935 and served until 12 October of that year.

Józef Piłsudski, selected Sławek as his choice for President of Poland in early 1935, but soon after Piłsudski's death (May 1935), Sławek was outmanoeuvred by his political rivals and lost most of his political influence. He was briefly Marshal of the Sejm (parliamentary Speaker) from 22 June to 27 November 1938. However, he failed to retain his parliamentary seat at the general elections of 1938.

On 2 April 1939 at 8:45 pm (the exact hour of Piłsudski's death), Sławek shot himself in his apartment. He died the next day in hospital.[1]


Polish writer and air-force pilot Mieczysław Pruszyński, in his book "The Secret of Piłsudski" ("Tajemnica Pilsudskiego") claims that Sławek's suicide was directly linked to the Anglo-Polish military alliance, and British guarantee to Poland, accepted by Jozef Beck: "Sławek killed himself after British guarantee to Poland had been announced and accepted. This guarantee was developed into an alliance, which Adolf Hitler saw as casus belli. Slawek was of the opinion that such an alliance, aimed at the Third Reich, would end in a Polish-German war. The war against which Jozef Piłsudski had warned until the last days of his life (...) When on April 2 Sławek found out that Beck had left for London, he commited suicide in the evening of the same day. For him, Beck's trip meant the war with Germany and the end of Poland" (Mieczysław Pruszyński, Tajemnica Piłsudskiego, Warszawa 1997). A few hours before his death, Sławek met with a man named Bogdan Podoski, to whom he said: "I know it, I feel that they are leading Poland to destruction, and I do not know how to react against it".

In 2004, in a Polish Newsweek article, historian Dariusz Baliszewski wrote that in early spring of 1939, a group of leading Polish political figures, such as General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, former Premier Leon Kozłowski and Kazimierz Puzak, planned a putsch, in which they wanted to get rid of Jozef Beck, Ignacy Mościcki and Edward Śmigły-Rydz, whose anti-German and pro-British policies led to the destruction of Poland. Walery Sławek was to be elected new President of Poland, but the plot was revealed, and to avoid embarrassment, Sławek either killed himself or was murdered.

Honours and awards[edit]

This article incorporates information from the Polish Wikipedia.

See also[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
Kazimierz Bartel
Prime Minister of Poland
Succeeded by
Józef Piłsudski
Preceded by
Józef Piłsudski
Prime Minister of Poland
Succeeded by
Aleksander Prystor
Preceded by
Leon Kozłowski
Prime Minister of Poland
Succeeded by
Marian Kościałkowski-Zyndram