Adam Koc

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Adam Ignacy Koc
Adam Koc.png
Minister of Treasury
In office
30 September 1939 – 9 December 1939
Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski
Preceded by Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski
Succeeded by Henryk Strasburger
Minister of Industry and Trade
In office
9 October 1939 – 9 December 1939
Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski
Preceded by Antoni Roman
Succeeded by Henryk Strasburger
Vice-minister of Treasury
In office
23 December 1930 – December 1935
Vice-minister of Treasury
In office
10 September 1939 – 30 September 1939
Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski
2nd Vice-minister of Treasury
In office
December 1939 – March 1940[1]
Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski
State commissioner for the Bank of Poland
In office
3 January 1932 – 7 February 1936
Head of the Bank of Poland[2]
In office
7 February 1936 – 8 May 1936
Preceded by Władysław Wróblewski
Succeeded by Władysław Byrka
2nd Convocation member of Sejm
In office
4 March 1928 – 30 August 1930
Constituency Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (BBWR)
3rd Convocation member of Sejm
In office
16 November 1930 – 10 July 1935
Constituency Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (BBWR)
4th Convocation member of Sejm
In office
8 September 1935 – 13 September 1938
Constituency Camp of National Unity (OZN, from 1937)
5th Convocation member of Senate
In office
13 November 1938 – 2 October 1939
Personal details
Born Adam Ignacy Koc
(1891-08-08)August 8, 1891
Suwałki, Congress Poland
Died February 3, 1969(1969-02-03) (aged 77)
New York City
Resting place Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford, England
51°47′29″N 1°16′24″W / 51.79131°N 1.27321°W / 51.79131; -1.27321
Nationality Polish
Political party Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (BBWR)
Other political
Camp of National Unity (OZN)
Alma mater Wyższa Szkoła Wojskowa, 1924
Profession soldier, journalist, politician
Awards Virtuti Militari, Order of Polonia Restituta Officer's Cross, Cross of Valour (Poland), Cross of Independence, Officer's Star "Parasol", Legion d'honneur Officier
Military service
Nickname(s) Witold, Szlachetny, Adam Krajewski, Adam Warmiński, Witold Warmiński
Allegiance  Poland
Service/branch Polish Legions; Polish Armed Forces
Years of service 1915-1928 (formally until 1930), 1939
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars First World War, Polish-Soviet War

Adam Ignacy Koc (31 August 1891 – 3 February 1969) was a Polish politician, MP, soldier, journalist and freemasoner. Koc, who had several noms de guerre (Witold, Szlachetny, Adam Krajewski, Adam Warmiński and Witold Warmiński), fought in Polish units in World War One and in the Polish-Soviet War.

In his youth, he was a member of the Revolutionary Association of Nation's Youth, the Union of Active Struggle and the Riflemen's Association. He then became a commandant of the Polish Military Organisation, first in the Warsaw district, and then its Commandant-in-Chief. Adam Koc was one of the officers of the Polish Legions and a member of so-called Convent of Organisation A.

In the Second Polish Republic, Adam Koc first was incorporated into the Polish Armed Forces, in December 1919, where he was given command over the 201 Infantry Regiment of Warsaw's Defense, which later became a Volunteer Division (31 July - 3 December 1920). Afterwards, he served in the Ministry of Military Affairs, on different positions. A participator of the May Coup, he was promoted in 1926 to be chief of the Command of VI District of Corps in Lwów, a position he held until 1928.

Considered as part of Piłsudski's colonels group, he was elected MP to the Sejm three times and once to the Senate. He was also multiple times in office, mostly in financial positions (he was Vice-minister of Treasury and Head of the Bank of Poland). There, he was one of the negotiators of the loan talks of the II Polish Republic with the UK and France.

As a sanational politician, he created the Gazeta Polska newspaper. He had also been editor-in-chief of its sanational predecessor Głos Prawdy in 1929.[3]

After Piłsudski died in May 1935, Adam Koc joined the people close to Edward Rydz-Śmigły. There, he became Commandant-in-chief of the Association of Polish Legionists.

In 1936-1937, Koc started co-creating a new political entity, the Camp of National Unity (OZN), which he became head of, a year later. As part of it, he was supportive of the idea of OZN's approach towards the radical right National Radical Camp Falanga and right-wing National Democracy.

As the World War II started, Adam Koc coordinated the evacuation of Bank of Poland gold reserves. Having been Minister of Finance, Trade and Industry for a short period in 1939, he fled to USA in 1940, where he died in 1969. There, he was one of the active members of the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America.

Early life[edit]

Adam Koc was born into an aristocratic family from Podlachia of great patriotic traditions. It is possible that the family derived itself from the area near Biała Podlaska.[1] His grandfather, Leon, was a veteran of the January uprising and mayor of Filipów and Sereje, both near Suwałki, Adam Koc's hometown, while his grandmother, Waleria, was part of the Polish National Government. Adam's father, Włodzimierz (1848-1925) was a teacher of ancient languages. Marriage with Helena (née Pisanko) brought three children: Stefan (1889-1908), Adam Ignacy himself and Leon Wacław, the youngest of them (1892-1954).[4][5]

Helena Koc died in 1894. After the death of Adam's mother, his aunt, Elżbieta Pisanko, took care of them. Five years later, the family moved to a rented flat in Suwałki. Starting from 1900, he studied in the elementary school, and he took up the Russian Boys' Gymnasium in Suwałki. It is there, most probably,[4] that Koc started being involved into the pro-independence activities, participating in self-taught additional lectures, in 1901.[6]

During the 1905 revolution he was part of the strike action gymnasium committee. As a result, he and Aleksander Putra, a future politician and MP, were expelled from the school.[7] At the time, he was a member of the National Workers' Union, an organisation with close ties with the National Democracy. He continued his education in January 1906 in the newly opened Polish Private Seven-class Trade School in Suwałki (now the School Union nr. 4).[8] Later on, his father sent Adam to Kraków, where he was to get to the Philosophical College of the Jagiellonian University. In order to do so, he had to pass his final exams in one of the Kraków's gimnasiums. He did so on 20 June 1912 in then IV classical gymnasium (now IV Tadeusz Kościuszko Lyceum), located in Podgórze (then a separate city), on quite a low level (mostly, he received a "satisfactory" grade, with only Greek and Latin passed on a "good" one), which was enough, however, to start Polish studies there.[4]

Pro-independence activity (1909-1914)[edit]

Before World War I[edit]

A group of Kraków soldiers from the conspiracy Union of Active Struggle. Adam Koc alias Witold first from left

Adam Koc had been in Kraków for three years when he wrote his Matura exam in 1912. At the time he actively committed himself to pro-independence conspiracy organisations,[1] and was listed among the radical youth. Władysław Studnicki was his mentor, while Aleksander Putra, Bolesław Kunc and Bolesław Dąbrowski were his closest cooperators. In fall 1909 Koc joined the newly created Revolutionary Association of Nation's Youth (ZRMN),[9] shortly introduced into the conspirative Union of Active Struggle (ZWC) by Studnicki,[9] despite fears that the organisation bore a socialist character. There, Adam Koc received his first pseudonym, Witold. His brother, Leon, accessed the organisation in 1911, after being introduced by Adam.[4]

Riflemen's Organisation meeting in Lwów. Adam Koc third from left.

Adam Koc was as well engaged in the Riflemen's Association, a legal organisation related to ZWC. Initially he was responsible for financial state of the Kraków branch of the organisation,[6] but Koc was sent to Grodno in late May 1910 by Kazimierz Sosnkowski and Józef Piłsudski (where his retired father was at the time), so as to make a detailed description of the fortress.[1] The task was done well, while the maps and sketches were sent via Aleksander Prystor. It is probable that it was the reason Koc could complete the officer’s course, organized by the Union of Active Struggle in Stróża near Limanowa, in Austrian Galicia, in 1912, and therefore promoted to a higher rank in the ZWC a year later. In spring 1914, he passed an exam that gave him an officer's rank in the ZWC and an Officer's Star "Parasol" award.[10] Simultaneously, Koc was an adjutant of the main headquarters of Riflemen's Organisation for the Russian partition affairs, starting from October 1913.[4]

In the Polish Military Organisation (1914-1919)[edit]

On August 10, 1914, Koc came to Warsaw from Druskininkai on the order of Walery Sławek, to take command of the local branch of the Union of Active Struggle in the Russian partition.[11] Soon afterwards, the Union of Active Struggle and the Riflemen's Association in Congress Poland united under leadership of Karol Rybasiewicz, formerly commandant of the Polish Rifle Squads. Koc became his deputy, and in August 1914, the new body was named the Polish Military Organisation (POW), led by Piłsudski's emissary, Tadeusz Żuliński.[12] The main target of the new organisation was to create sabotage actions behind the Russian army. Adam Koc aka Witold was one of the members of the Chief Commandment of POW. In addition, Koc commanded the Warsaw district of the organisation from the beginning of 1915 on. In February 1915 he was advanced to podporuchik by Żuliński.[13]

Adam Koc desperately wanted to fight with Russians on the front, among Piłsudski's Legions, an occasion which could have been possible unless the front stabilized by spring 1915. Then, Żuliński sent him to Piłsudski (then actively in fight) with reports on POW's activity. Normally, such a person could cross the frontline to the 1st Brigade of Polish Legions, but it was proved impossible. To fulfil the task, Koc had to use the northern route, via Finland and Sweden. Alias Adam Krajewski, Koc left Warsaw on 25 May 1915,[4] giving up his POW's position.[10]

He first arrived to Petrograd, where he started to move towards Helsinki, illegally crossing the then watched border between Russia and the Great Duchy of Finland.[1] Then, Koc was transported to Stockholm, in agreement with Finnish pro-independence organisations.[11] There, he met another messenger from POW, Aleksander Sulkiewicz. As there were problems with Austro-Hungary visa issuing, both had to wait for them in Kopenhagen. Having received the documents, Koc arrived in Piotrków Trybunalski (then occupied by the Triple Alliance militia), where he met with Adam Skwarczyński. He then finally arrived to Annopol, then Piłsudski's headquarters.[11] The reports were given, and, on Koc's will, he was allowed to participate in the Legions.[4]

Adam Koc as a Legionist
Adam Koc wounded in the battle of Sitowicze, 1916

Polish Legions (1915-1918)[edit]

Having completed the task given by Żuliński, he joined the 5th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legions.[1] It almost coincided with the Central Powers countries' occupation of Lublin in summer 1915.[14]

There, he received a task coinciding with his earlier life experience: there, he was to support the newly summoned Lublin's National Department - an organisation aiming at the propagation of Piłsudski's policies (to counteract the Commandment of Legions, controlled by Central Powers). By doing so, he raised suspicions among the Austro-Hungarian militia, so he was sent to the front line. Koc struggled there because of health problems (he had pneumonia and malaria), which was aggravated by his sight issues. That is how Koc commented on his state:

While executing my duties, I had some problems, because my sight was weak. I saw nothing at night, whilst the attacks sometimes took place, when we were sent to patrol the areas near the front line. Which was why it was needed to find a deputy soldier who could substitute the weakened sight, while conducting in the dark

— Koc, Adam, "Wspomnienia" [Memories]. Wrocław: Towarzystwo Przyjaciół "Ossolineum", 2005.

On September 18, 1916, Adam Koc, was severely wounded in the Battle of Sitowicze, in Volhynia, as the shot was close to his liver, while Koc was on his spy mission. Aleksander Sulkiewicz, while trying to help the person he met a year ago in Piotrków, was shot dead. Dr Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski, in effect, was taking care of him at the battlefield. Wounded, Koc was first transported to the Legions' clinic in Lublin, and then to Kraków.[4]

He finished his treatment at the clinic on 31 January 1917. Koc returned to political life in the Legions, where he became one of the founders of the so-called Analphabet Association - a conspirative military organization in the 5th Infantry Regiment supporting Piłsudski's pro-independence policy.[15] By that time he was one of the piłsudczyk (a person supporting Piłsudski) who has already been a decent authority in the Legions.[16]

The actions did not remain unnoticed by the Austro-German generals, so Koc was sent to Ostrów Mazowiecka for additional schooling, as a punishment. Additional trouble came to Koc after the after the oath crisis (9-11 July 1917), when, as one of the officers of the Legions, was imprisoned at the camp in Beniaminów, while his brother Leon was imprisoned at Szczypiorno (now part of Kalisz).[17] At Beniaminów, Koc has been convincing the prisoners to join Piłsudski and to continue resistance. Adam Koc was released on 22 April 1918, his health deteriorating.[18]

Polish Military Organisation rejoining (1918)[edit]

The Kingdom of Poland partition between Austria-Hungary and the German Empire. POW nr. 1 district was located in the cyan part of the map

After being freed from the prisoner-of-war camp at Beniaminów, Koc rejoined the Polish Military Organisation. Jan Zdanowicz-Opieliński, who was then the Main Commandant of POW district nr. 1 (the one which ruled over the German occupation territory from its headquarters in Warsaw), convinced the then head of POW, Edward Rydz-Śmigły, to give over his command to Koc.[4]

As the Main Commandant of POW, Koc alias Szlachetny reorganized the structure of his Commandment, as well as created the fast-moving squads for sabotage actions, on the order of Edward Rydz-Śmigły. He also initiated protests against the German police and coordinated the activity of POW with the Armed Squads of Polish Socialist Party. His successes in the actions listed above further increased his authority in the military organisations.[4] While in office as Main Commandant, he made close ties with Bogusław Miedziński (who was responsible for correspondence with the political constituencies, mostly Polish political parties[19]) and Rydz-Śmigły. The latter soon gave over his functions to Koc for the time the Commander-in-Chief of POW parted for Kiev, in September 1918.[20]

At the same time, Koc substituted Tadeusz Kasprzycki in the Convent of Organisation A, which was created in summer 1917, as a conspirative government of Piłsudski's supporters.[4]

As the process of the so-called Lublin government advanced (early November 1918), German-led military councils were organized in Warsaw. Koc initiated the demilitarisation of some part of them.[4]

On November 10, 1918, together with Prince Zdzislaw Lubomirski, part of the Regency Council of the Kingdom of Poland, he welcomed Józef Piłsudski and one of his fellow warriors, Kazimierz Sosnkowski, who returned by train to Warsaw from internment in Magdeburg.[1][11] Then, Koc ordered his subordinates to clear German soldiers in Warsaw from weapons.[21] This done, Józef Piłsudski and the Provisional People's Government of the Republic of Poland could then peacefully enter Warsaw to start governing the newly created Polish Republic.[4]

Service in the Polish Army (1918-1930)[edit]

Officers of the Polish Armed Forces. Left to right: Bogusław Miedziński, Adam Koc i Marian Zyndram-Kościałkowski

At the dawn of independence (1918-1920)[edit]

Even though Koc was busy with the Main Commandant function, he was as well a referent for the I Department (Organisational) of the Polish Armed Forces on the affairs of POW incorporation, until mid-December 1918.[5] The POW division, which he was head of, was then merged with the VI Section (Informational) of the General Staff (Koc became its head),[22] which, on 11 May 1919, changed its name to the Second Department of Polish General Staff. At first, he was serving in the Intelligence Bureau of the Second Department. He was afterwards directed to the Wojenna Szkoła Sztabu Generalnego (Military School of the General Staff) to be additionally schooled, from 13 June to 1 December 1919.[4]

Polish Armed Forces officers after the capture of Grodno in September 1920. Adam Koc in the middle, with Virtuti Militari award

Later, on 17 January 1920, by the decree of the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces, Józef Piłsudski, Koc was officially accepted to the Polish Armed Forces as a captain[23] (he was informally advanced to the rank on 17 December 1918[24]). On the same date, the another decree (dated on 1 January 1920) was published that gave the Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari award to Adam Koc.[25] By the time, he was already nominated as head of the VI Section (of Propaganda and Soldiers' Care).[26] Nevertheless, he did not cease to execute his duties as Main Commandant of POW. It is unclear, however, which of his actions there were part of his officer's duties in the Polish Armed Forces, whereas which were related to Polish Military Organisation only.

As Koc received the most prestigious military award in Poland, he became secretary of the Temporary Council of the Virtuti Militari Award[27] (as one of the 11 first recipients of the award since its restoration in August 1919,[28] on 21 January 1920[11]). He was as well part of the Statute Commission.[27] He had to leave it shortly, however, since he was to go to Ukraine in May to June 1920 to aid Symon Petlura in communication issues and, later on, the POW soldiers that remained alive.[29]

At war with the Soviet Russia (1920)[edit]

On 11 June 1920, on the basis of the order of the Ministry of Military Affairs, Koc was promoted to lieutenant colonel, together with some other Polish Legions officers.[30] Soonly, he was given command first over the 201st Infantry Regiment (18 July 1920), which was consisted mainly of POW soldiers. The regiment subordinated to Władysław Sikorski's, and then, as the Regiment was incorporated into the 22nd Infantry Division, over it as well. All of the militia were created as part of the Volunteer Army, which itself was a result of mobilisation to the Polish Armed Forces, caused by the issue of an appropriate order by the Council of National Defense.[31]

At first, in late July, Adam Koc and his (then) regiment were stationed in Suraż near Białystok. There, he started his fight against Soviet forces. As the Regiment was incorporated into the Volunteer Division, Koc continued warfare on the Northern Front. The successes of his army started only after the turning point of the conflict. For example, on 15/16 August 1920, his soldiers took over Nasielsk,[32] but it was only after the Sikorski's counterattack a day earlier. Moreover, Koc was unable to fully destroy the 3rd Cavalry Corps, led by Hayk Bzhishkyan, as the Soviet cavalry escaped encirclement.[32]

Soon after, Koc's Division was incorporated into the 3rd Army of Edward Rydz-Śmigły, where Koc participated in the successful attack on Grodno. Part of the 22nd Division took part in the Żeligowski's mutiny,[4] while the rest (Koc included) was fighting until 3 December 1920, when his division was dissolved.

In the peace times (1921-1925)[edit]

As the Polish-Soviet conflict was waning, Koc came to Warsaw, where he took a monthly course of informational lectures for higher rank officers, starting from 20 January 1921.[4]

Service in the III Department[edit]

As the war officially finished, Piłsudski gave Koc command of the newly summoned III Department of the General Staff for the Preparation of Reserves affairs. His task was to support any kind of organizations that were to prepare the population for the possible future military conflict. The Department was as well controlling the process of military education of the Polish youth and the reserves.[33]

Adam Koc was quite a redeemed person of the time - for example, he was participating in the International Riflemen's Organisation councils on the behalf of Ministry of Military Affairs.[34] He was an advocate for the democratisation of relationships inside the military structures and making stronger ties between people and the army,[35] which he won esteem among his subordinates by. Simultaneously, he was regularly published in the Strzelec, Rząd I Wojsko and Bellona military magazines. These facts resulted in a positive opinion of Koc's work not only of his boss in the III Department, Colonel Marian Kukiel, but as well in the highest circles of military organizations, namely, of Stanisław Szeptycki, then Minister of Military Affairs.[4] On 3 May 1922, the rank of Koc was revised. He was still lieutenant colonel, but with the advantage in placement, made for officers from before 1 June 1919.[36] Moreover, when it comes to his position on the list of senior infantry soldiers, he was placed on a high 135th place.[37]

While serving in the III Department, Koc was part of a conspiracy organisation called "Honor i Ojczyzna" (1921–23), which was to teach new soldiers, keep good morale of the army's officers and apoliticise the army's structure.[38][39] Together with Kazimierz Młodzianowski, Koc, as the representative of the Polish Military Organisation and the Legions, was part of the organisation's chapter.[40] The organisation was created by Władysław Sikorski, himself a right-of-center politician, nevertheless Koc received consent from Józef Piłsudski and Kazimierz Sosnkowski, both on the left side of the political scene.

At the time, Koc was as well trying himself as a poet (alias Adam Warmiński). The book of his poetry and some prose as well was published in 1921.[41]

First attempt of Socialist power takeover[edit]

Koc as colonel

In mid-December 1922, as Gabriel Narutowicz was assassinated, Koc took part in the Piłsudski's officers meeting in the II Department's headquarters. The meeting aimed at calming down the created situation by Piłsudski's military intervention (albeit Piłsudski had no formal power to do so) and, eventually, at taking over power in Poland.[42] After the meeting, the officers present on the meeting (including himself, Bogusław Miedziński, Ignacy Matuszewski, Ignacy Borner, Konrad Libicki, Kazimierz Stamirowski and Henryk Floyar-Rajchman) contacted with the headquarters of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) in order to organise a general strike, a plan that did not come to life because of Ignacy Daszyński's refusal to cooperate.[43]

Pre-May Coup activity[edit]

From 2 November 1923, Koc was attending another schooling course in the Wyższa Szkoła Wojenna, after which Koc received his diploma of finishing the school, on 15 October 1924.[44] Having completed his military studies, he was accepted as the I referent in the II Army Inspectorate in Warsaw (under the command of Łucjan Żeligowski). Even though he was already at work at the Army Inspectorate, in addition, he was also head of 5th Legions' Infantry Regiment.

On 1 December 1924, Koc was promoted to colonel, the highest rank he achieved in army structures, with 17th place in the list of seniority among Polish infantry.[44] Two months later, colonel Koc was nominated as a deputy of the commandant of the Center of Practical Army Schooling in Rembertów (then a separate town).[45]

Koc became initiated into freemasonry before 1921, in the Warsaw lodge of the National Grand Lodge of Poland (Wielka Loża Narodowa Polski), becoming demitted on 23 March 1928.[46] In 1925-1926, while serving in Rembertów, Koc was part of the freemason organisation (so were most of officers close to Piłsudski) called National Grand Lodge of Poland[47] (also translated as 'Grand National Lodge of Poland'[48]), on Piłsudski's recommendation.[49][50]


From mid-1924 till winter of 1925, numerous meeting took place in Koc's apartment and in the Mała Ziemiańska café on Mazowiecka street in Warsaw. The participators from the piłsudczycy circles (including Józef Beck, Ignacy Matuszewski, Bogusław Miedziński, Kazimierz Stamirowski, Kazimierz Świtalski, Henryk Floyar-Rajchman and Starzyńscy brothers (Roman and Stefan) were supporters of the coup d'état, so the topic of the meetings was mostly about its preparation. Preparations were interrupted, however, by Piłsudski, in December 1925, a fact that surprised Koc himself.[51] Despite their sudden suspension, they did have some impact on the future May 1926 events.

May Coup and beyond (1926-1930)[edit]

May Coup[edit]

Starting from 11 April 1926, Koc served as head of the Department for Non-Catholic Religions in the Ministry of Military Affairs. Thanks to the position, he has been in Warsaw for the month preceding the coup, the time Koc used in helping Piłsudski organize it.[4] His role was to inform some of the piłsudskiite officers about the upcoming power takeover by the future ruler just before the event's start. He succeeded to fulfil his mission: on 11/12 May, he, together with Anatol Minkowski, Feliks Kwiatek (both lieutenant colonels) and Karol Lilienfeld-Krzewski (major), visited Kazimierz Sawicki, commandant of the 36th Infantry Regiment and contacted with Tadeusz Piskor, commandant of the 28th Infantry Division, to communicate Piłsudski's readiness for action. While the coup was in process, Koc was most probably negotiating the strike action announcement on the Polish rail service.[52] He could not, however, get to know about Stanisław Wojciechowski's location, a fact that upset Piłsudski.[51]

First "sanation" years[edit]

After the May Coup's success, he was nominated as Head of Staff of the Commandment of VI Military District in Lwów, on 14 September 1926 (the office he held until 4 March 1928).[53][54] The purpose of nomination is subject to controversy. According to Marian Romeyko, he was to "supervise" his boss, Władysław Sikorski,[55] a version thrown off by Bogusław Miedziński, who claimed Koc, as other officers from the so-called Koc-group, were eliminated from Warsaw, even though Marszałek did not explain why and how that happened.[43] It might be possible that Piłsudski was disappointed in Koc after his request to locate Wojciechowski failed to be answered during the May Coup. Another version was that Piłsudski was afraid of a financial scandal, that was caused by Jan Lechoń's behaviour. That is, the editor of Cyrulik Warszawski (Koc was an initiator and an organiser of the comical journal which started publishing on 5 June 1926 and that existed until 1934, with some change in the content from 1930 on)[56] was using Koc's generosity in the financial aspect of the organisation of the magazine, which might have then cast a shadow over the newly organised political system, Piłsudski in head of the system, on the grounds of budget money usage for political purposes.[4]

Having served in Lwów for 1,5 years, he was then sent to the commandant of Infantry Officers Staff's disposition. By then, Koc decided to enter the political scene. In effect, on 26 March that year, Koc retired from military service for the time he was an MP.[57] He fully retired from military affairs on 30 April 1930.[58]

Political career in the Second Polish Republic (1927-1938)[edit]

Pre-MP activity[edit]

Koc's political career started in 1927 when he was taking part in the Cabinet of the Head of the Council of Ministers. There, decisions upon the sanation current policies were made.[59] He also entered the Lwów Regional Voivodership Committee, which was one of the several structures that coordinated the electoral campaign of piłsudskiite party.

Later, already into the 2nd Sejm convocation, in December 1928, Koc was invited to the Main Awarding Commission of the Cross of Independence (commemorated to the 10th anniversary of Polish independence), himself becoming one of the first who received it.[60]

MP and journalist[edit]

As a result of March 1928 parliamentary elections, Koc, from the Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (BBWR) constituency, was elected to the Sejm from the all-state list.[5]

It is usually said that Koc belonged to the so-called Piłsudski's colonels, which implies that Koc was one of the closest MPs to Piłsudski and that he was among the ruling class of the BBWR and Poland. Some authors, however, question this statement - Andrzej Chojnowski writes that "Koc and Miedziński were somewhat removed [from the main positions] by Piłsudski",[61] while Antoni Czubiński, another historian, claims that Koc has never belonged to that informal group.[62]

As an MP from the Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government, he was an informal head of a group of BBWR deputees (from both houses of parliament) from the so-called Eastern Małopolska (i.e. territories of Lwów, Stanisławów and Tarnopol voivoderships) from 1928-1929, and again from 1930 on. At the same time, he was Director of Propaganda Section of BBWR, which, on 30 October 1929, helped him create a new prosanational newspaper - Gazeta Polska, which he became editor-in-chief of[63] (he didn't last there long, however - Miedziński succeeded him a year later, together with his section director's office[4]), created from the incorporation of Epoka into Głos Prawdy newspapers, the latter of which was directed by Koc from January 1929.[3] The main reason Koc was nominated for the newspaper edition was to get rid of Wojciech Stpiczyński's radical leftist views,[3] which were not favourable for Walery Sławek, part of Piłsudski's colonels and head of BBWR. These were not favourable since BBWR was trying to find support in the conservative parties,[64] partly in order to fight the opposition's Centrolew influences, and partly to make a future coalition with the right-wing parties (mainly National Democracy), which was necessary to retain majority in both parliament and government.

Even though he was an MP and formally ceased executing his military duties, he was still active in the military organizations he has been participating for a long time. Namely, he was nominated as vice-director of Riflemen's Association's Council. Koc became head of the newly created Peowiak Association, uniting the veterans of POW, in March 1928.[65]

Vice-minister of Treasury (1930-1935)[edit]

On 13 December 1930, the Polish mass media informed that a candidature of Koc as vice-minister of Treasury was proposed to then president of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki.[66] Ten days later, Mościcki signed an appropriate decision to nominate the colonel on the position.[67] At the time of his office in the II Department of the Ministry (Money Circulation matters), the first finance minister was Ignacy Matuszewski, later succeeded by Jan Piłsudski and Władysław Zawadzki. Koc needed to control the organisation of stock exchanges and banks (both the central Bank of Poland and private financial institutions), debt and foreign financial relations in difficult times for the financial sector, as Poland was then deeply stuck in the Great Depression. According to Janusz Mierzwa, Koc's biographer, he was summoned to such a position despite lack of experience thanks to his humble and honest character. Piłsudski could not have trusted other people, as rumours of bribery in the Bank of Poland came to him, that is why his choice came on Koc.[4] Another factor that might have caused his nomination was Matuszewski's fear behind the etatist ambitions of Stefan Starzyński.[1] Additionally, Koc himself was passionate about the economical issues.[68] At first, Koc was seen as a laic and a moderately liberal views on the economy,[69] but he evolved as a pragmatic man of mainly interventionist or even etatist actions.[4]

Map of railroads of Poland (as of 1952-1953). The coal trunk-line can be tracked there (starting from origin at Chorzów) by the following route: Chorzów-Tarnowskie Góry-Herby Nowe-Karsznice-Inowrocław-Nowa Wieś Wielka-Bydgoszcz-Maksymilianowo-Kościerzyna-Gdynia

At the beginning of 1932, Koc became a State commissioner for the Bank of Poland as well.[70] The person nominated for such a position had to make decent communication between the organs of the central bank (its head and government) and the government itself. He executed the function for 4 years.

French and British railroad loans[edit]

Photograph of the Polish loan delegation to London. Adam Koc fourth from right.

As Koc was responsible for international financial relations with the foreign counterparts, Koc was actively engaged into discussions upon a loan from France for finishing the so-called coal trunk-line - a strategically important communication railroad that was to connect Polish Silesia's coal mines with Gdynia, a fast-developing seaport, in order to export that fossil fuel.

In mid-February 1931, Koc arrived to Paris to discuss the financial aspects of the rail construction loan, on the behalf of the Ministry of Communication.[71] According to the decision signed in France (which was to be valid until 31 December 1975), the French-Polish Rail Association was given rights to concess the parts of the line under construction (Herby Nowe - Inowrocław and Nowa Wieś Wielka-Gdynia), as well as to exploit the infrastructure on the Częstochowa-Siemkowice section (close to the line). The treaty was the first case when a part of railway line was given for use to a foreign private enterprise, a step lauded by the government (by e.g. showing the importance of Polish loan for Polish-French friendly relations), but equally criticised by the opposition.[72][73] Koc himself was a vice-director of the newly created rail association for more than three years.

Koc vainly attempted to negotiate another loan from French officials - this time to electrify the Warsaw Rail Knot. He succeeded, however, while keeping talks with British partners. On 8 July 1933, a treaty between English Electric Ltd. and Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Co. Ltd., on one side, and the Ministry of Treasury, on another, was signed to give a ₤1.98 million loan (then approx. 60 mln zł).[1]

The conditions of the loan were much more favorable than the French ones: the project had to be finished in 3–4 years, using materials made in Poland and building additional electrotechnical facilities as well as a power plant near Warsaw, using British capital.[74] The agreement was signed on 2 August 1933,[75] the fact Adam Koc was very content of:

The electrification of the Warsaw rail knot will not only have its communicational importance but as well it will positively influence the state of our industry and our working force. I am very content with my visit to London. It gave me the possibility to create new contacts and get to know a lot of influential people from [British] industry and financial sectors in person. I reckon that these contacts which will be supported by both entities, will increase the mutual self-understanding and will allow achieving the further development of economic cooperation (...)

— Adam Koc, "Wywiad u wiceministra Adama Koca" [Interview with vice-minister Adam Koc], Gazeta Polska, p. 1, from 3 August 1933

Another railroad modernisation loan was signed on 24 April 1934 - this time, with The Westinghouse Brake and Saxiby Co. Ltd., to install air brakes to the Polish freight trains. The quote of the loan was the same ₤1.98 million.[76][77]

International economical conference in London (1933)[edit]

Apart from railroad modernisation, Koc was as well busy with ways of getting Poland out of the Great Depression. In June and July 1933, Koc was head of the Polish delegation to the international economical conference in London. There, Koc presented his own views to combat depression - the main target, according to him, was to stabilise the currencies via trade liberalisation and customs decrease or abolishment.[78] Koc was against the gold standard abolishment, thus he signed a "gold countries" declaration with France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium, on July 3. The declaration showed "the will of retaining the free gold standard according to the today's parity [of currencies towards gold] in their own countries, as [written] in the existent monetary laws".[79]

In 1935[edit]

Adam Koc in mid-1930s

1935 was a turning year for Poland, so was it for Koc. On 12 May 1935, Piłsudski passed. To commemorate his death, Adam Koc entered the Main Committee of Józef Piłsudski Commemoration.[59] As the place of the General Inspector of the Armed Forces (GISZ) became vacant (it was occupied by Piłsudski), several candidates were proposed. Koc preferred that the GISZ position be occupied by Kazimierz Sosnkowski, but Mościcki decided that the position would be occupied by Edward Śmigły-Rydz, a person who he thought was absent-minded, especially when compared to Sosnkowski.[80] After the nomination Koc did not want, he united himself with Walery Sławek, expecting him to take up power in the havoc caused by Piłsudski's death. Sławek, however, was unable to convince Mościcki to step down from his office despite evidence that Piłsudski informally nominated him as his successor,[81] and eventually Sławek was ostracized from Polish political scene.[82] This deepened the decomposition of the piłsudskiite parties. For that reason, Koc had to change his orientation again - he accepted the increasing importance of Edward Rydz-Śmigły. He, together with Bogusław Miedziński and Wojciech Stpiczyński, were co-creating the new informal entity - the so-called GISZ group, which targeted at counterbalancing the increasing influence of another informal group - grupa zamkowa (the castle group, named after the residence of Mościcki - the Royal Castle in Warsaw[83]), headed by Mościcki and his protégé - Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski.[4] At the same time, he (together with Ignacy Matuszewski) were considered as the rightmost politicians from the Piłsudski's colonels group.[1]

Koc (center) on the return from his visit to USA, aboard on MS Piłsudski

In addition, legislative elections were due in September 1935. This was a smaller problem, as Koc was reelected for the second time to the Sejm, with overwhelming 67408 votes.[84]

Amid extraordinary political circumstances, Koc was as well vice-minister of finances (yet), so he could not leave his duties there.

In mid-September 1935, Adam Koc went to one of the last foreign visits as vice-minister of Treasury, namely, to USA. The purpose of his visit was to achieve a missionary loan (i.e. a loan from another country to introduce more money mass into the economy). Having arrived to the United States, Koc met with Polonia representatives and with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[85] Later on, Koc visited the New York Stock Exchange and some representatives from the economical circles. Despite that, neither he, nor other people with him (including Gustaw Orlicz-Dreszer, Aleksander Osiński, Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski, Stefan Starzyński and Ignacy Matuszewski) could not meet the main target of the foreign visit.[4]

When Koc returned to Poland, it revealed that Walery Sławek's government was dissolved by Mościcki[86] on 12 October 1935. The next day, Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski was nominated as minister of Treasury and deputy PM at the same time.[87] Kwiatkowski was known as an autarkist economist, while Koc belonged to the classical school, which was why the co-existence of Kwiatkowski and Koc was impossible. For that reason, Mościcki declined Śmigły's proposal to install Koc as Prime Minister.[1] Shortly after Kwiatkowski's nomination, Koc resigned in December. Despite different views on Polish economy and their conflict, Kwiatkowski made a warm farewell to Koc.[88]

Head of the Bank of Poland (1936)[edit]

On 7 February 1936, Mościcki nominated Koc as Head of the Bank of Poland.[89] Just after his nomination, Koc had to make financial visits abroad, both regulating the loan issues. In the one case, he went to France, where he met his French counterpart, Jean Tannery, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pierre-Étienne Flandin and the Minister of Finances, Marcel Régnier, while in the other, he went to Great Britain to meet Montagu Norman, then Governor of the Bank of England.[4]

While in his position, Koc advocated support for profitable enterprises and close cooperation between the Bank of Poland and private financial institutions. As in 1933, Koc was protecting the gold standard and trying to protect the immense Polish gold reserves. While Koc was in office, the Bank of Poland was not supportive of stock and currency manipulations.[90] The policy, however, could not solve the problem of a sudden drop in foreign exchange reserves in the end of March 1936.

To solve it, Ignacy Mościcki summoned a meeting of various officials (which included Zyndram-Kościałkowski the Prime Minister, Rydz-Śmigły, Tadeusz KasprzyckiWładysław RaczkiewiczRoman GóreckiJuliusz Ulrych and Juliusz Poniatowski). Koc presented a project of a presidential decree to devaluate the national currency, an idea rejected by Mościcki himself. This meant that the concept of foreign exchange regulations "victory", likened by Kwiatkowski. The Head of the Bank of Poland was definitely against such a solution, which is why Koc resigned on May 8.[91] Before going out from the Bank of Poland, Koc managed to convince Mościcki to transfer 20 mln zł ($3.77M) from the Bank of Poland for combatting unemployment by hiring people to work on road construction.[92]

The nomination of Koc as Head of the Bank of Poland, as Kwiatkowski, his boss, was in office, is subject to controversy. Janusz Mierzwa, his biographer, indicates that neither Kwiatkowski nor Mościcki had a better choice,[1] which implies that the politicians from the "castle group" were searching for a better one, so Koc gave them some spare time.

The banking activity of Koc does not end there - he would take up work in Bank Handlowy from 1938, becoming its vice-director on 30 March 1939,[93][94] but what did stop is his government service. Until 1939, Koc was not involved into any government office - he only was an MP (a senator from 1938).[1]

Camp of National Unity (OZN) activity (1936-1938)[edit]


A cartoon featuring Koc (bottom left) and Sławek (on a monument).
A photograph from ZLP session in May 1937. Koc is standing on the left, while his mentor, Edward Śmigły-Rydz, in the center

With the death of Piłsudski, most of the right-wing politicians consolidated themselves around Edward Śmigły-Rydz. That meant that Walery Sławek has been then losing support. On 30 October 1935, Walery Sławek dissolved the Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government.[95] For that reason, Śmigły-Rydz and his partners started working upon the creation of its substitute. To begin with, Śmigły-Rydz was trying to assure control over a Legionist organization - The Association of Polish Legionists (ZLP). The Main Inspector of the Armed Forces succeeded: on 24 May 1936, Sławek lost his position in favour of Adam Koc, a fellow of Rydz.[96] The same day, Edward Śmigły-Rydz made a speech to the people present on the session of the association, which was later remembered by Adam Koc as the indication of his will to create a new program (possibly a new party) that was to follow the need to protect Poland and to develop its military forces.[97]

By that time, Koc was already known as one of the closest cooperators with Śmigły-Rydz, which was why it was him who the future Marshal chose to fulfill the task of a new political entity creation. Koc, however, was not able to create it quickly. Therefore, Bogusław Miedziński took up the task in December 1936.[4]

A title page of Gazeta Polska newspaper, featuring Koc in front of a microphone and the text of his declaration

Miedziński was a supporter of the cooperation with the right-wing parties, so, in the beginning of 1937, Miedziński wrote an article in the Gazeta Polska newspaper, which was essentially a definite declaration of the Śmigły-Rydz's camp that it would create a new political entity. In the same article, Miedziński advocated the need to cooperate with the right side of the political scene (in the article, he mentioned the National Democracy).[98] Simultaneously, Miedziński and Koc were making pertractations with the young nationalist party - National Radical Camp Falanga (ONR "Falanga").[98][99] While talks were in progress, Miedziński has done a draft of the party's declaration, which was not accepted neither by Śmigły-Rydz, nor by Koc. Miedziński mentioned little on the topic of agricultural reform, which was one of the reasons why talks with the agricultural parties (PSL), namely, with Maciej Rataj and Jan Dąbski, failed, apart from lack of consensus on the subject of Wincenty Witos's return from emigration and of a creation of a new electoral system.[98]

In the situation described above, Śmigły-Rydz had decided to create a draft himself, which he completed in a week. The draft paralyzed the already uneasy talks with the agricultural parties because there wasn't anything written about the agricultural reform. Miedziński warned that he was about to quit the sanation camp if nothing changed.[43]

To achieve consensus, in January 1937, Koc, Miedziński and Śmigły-Rydz decided to meet in Zakopane to provide a few corrections to the Marshal's project. After two days of discussions, Koc received a final draft, which contained some vague points on agricultural reform formulated by Miedziński.[98]


On 21 February 1937, at 5.30 p.m.,[100] Adam Koc, designated by Edward Śmigły-Rydz to become head of the political party, made a radio broadcast which was a declaration of a new political entity creation.[101] The ideological declaration of the party confirmed the April 1935 constitution's statement of the primary role of the state and civil solidarity. Moreover, the declaration featured the need for military protection of the state (including militia heading the country) and distancing from communism. An important part of this statement was the appeal to consolidate under the protection of people's leader - Edward Śmigły-Rydz. The program also included passages about the importance of the Roman Catholic church to the people. The declaration insisted that tolerance towards ethnic minorities in Poland be present, with the exclusion of Jews, who was to become subject to increased concurrence from Catholics.

The declaration of the newly created Camp of National Unity (OZN) is seen as right-wing and antisemitic.[102] Some of the National Democracy representatives argued that OZN has committed ideological plagiarism.[98] Criticism came as well from the opposition newspapers (e.g. right-wing Kurier Poznański[103]) and some left-wing pro-piłsudskiite representatives.[59] Lack of charisma was as well noticed.[104] On the other hand, the government newspapers (Gazeta Polska) praised the declaration and accented the enthusiasm different political organisations claimed on the announcement of the radio broadcast.[105]

Head of OZN[edit]

Koc (right) pays visit to Mościcki in the Royal Castle, 24 February 1937.

The creation of a new political entity (colloqially called "OZON", Polish for ozone) interested the government itself, so Koc paid a visit to the President, three days after his declaration was announced.

On 22 June 1937, a youth organization of OZN, Union of Young Poland (ZMP), was created. Formally, Adam Koc became director of it, but it was de facto controlled by Jerzy Rutkowski, his deputy. Eventually, on 28 October that year, Rutkowski took over command of the organization.[106] Rutkowski was known as a person from radical-right political scene (ONR), but Koc denied any ties between him and ONR "Falanga".[106] The step was a product of cooperation between Koc and ONR's leader, Bolesław Piasecki. It was widely condemned in the Legionist and POW circles, for example, on the XIV General Congress of ZLP in Kraków.[4] Finally, as the cooperation between OZN and ONR "Falanga" was the more criticised and the members of the latter the more radical in their policies, OZN finally finished cooperation with the Union of Young Poland on 22 April 1938,[107] with Koc already stepped down from the party's leader position, in favour of Stanisław Skwarczyński. The impulse to do so was Rutkowski's declaration to create an independent organisation and his resignation from OZN.[108]

An assassination attempt[edit]

On 18 July 1937 at 10.15 p.m.,[109] a failed assassination attempt has been done on Koc.[109][110][111] According to the information in press, an attempt was done while Koc has been sitting in his newly bought small house in Świdry Małe (now in Józefów near Warsaw). The assassinator, however, was killed by his own bomb, as it exploded earlier than expected and as the assassinator did not care about safety issues.

The results of the investigation of that accident were announced ten days later: it revealed that the culprit was a man called Wojciech Bieganek from Różopole near Krotoszyn, together with his cooperator and brother, Jan, who was arrested the day following the failed attempt.[112] Some pro-sanation titles suggested that Bieganek was part of a conspiracy organisation against Koc, made by politicians opposing him.[113]

The documents connected with the assassination attempt have not been published yet.[4]

Plans to make a coup d'état[edit]

According to some reports, the assassination attempt, as well as decreasing popularity of OZN, were a signal for both OZN and ONR "Falanga" to conduct a second military coup in the Second Polish Republic's history, on 25/26 October 1937 (the days when Śmigły-Rydz was in Romania).[114] The reports claim that Koc himself was planning some kind of "St. Bartholomew's massacre" or "Night of the Long Knives", allegedly, with Śmigły-Rydz's support, which was supposed to physically eliminate the sanational politicians opposing OZN.[114] As a result of it, the coup d'état was supposed to assassinate 300-1500 people,[107] with the same amount of imprisonments, including: Mościcki; Sławek; Kwiatkowski; Janina Prystorowa, wife of then Marshal of Senate, Aleksander Prystor; and Aleksandra Piłsudska, widow after Józef Piłsudski,[114] with Jerzy Paciorkowski and Zygmunt Wenda leading the massacre.

Supporters of the idea claim that a prelude to the action was the official proposal of Edward Śmigły-Rydz to change the current government to the one with Witold Grabowski as PM (remembered for his hardline policies), an idea condemned by Stanisław Car, an influential Marshal of Sejm.[107] Moreover, rumours were circulating in different political organisations: the right-of-centre Front Morges (Ignacy Jan Paderewski as leader), the delegalised Communist Party of Poland, the leftist sanation faction and the so-called "castle group".[107]

Historians opposing the idea say that there is no concrete evidence, only some rumors.[114] Moreover, Koc, one of the people that (supposedly) was the organizer of the coup, was nominated as vice-minister of Treasury by Mościcki, one of the people that were to be killed. In addition, Władysław Sikorski, a person alienated from sanation, called Koc for cooperation as minister of Treasury, Minister of Industry and Trade and, later on, vice-minister of Treasury.[4] According to them, the rumours may be classified as "a successful political provocation", addressed to Edward Śmigły-Rydz.[107]

One of the main consequences of the coup was Koc's declaration that he had nothing in common with ONR "Falanga".[106][107]


Rydz-Śmigły knew well that Koc was unfit for OZN ruling. First of all, Koc was not a public person, contrary to, say, Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski. This fact made it very difficult for Koc to be a consolidator of Polish citizens. Furthermore, Koc was "tired of quarrels with Kwiatkowski, his health failing", and "he took up the party's position [treating it] as an order from his boss".[1] Also, the head of OZN was neglecting or underestimating the importance of the opposition.[99] To aggravate the matters, OZN, at Koc's ruling, was widely seen as an organization that was approaching to fascism (mainly because of Piasecki's influence, despite claiming that "OZN and Falanga had nothing in common"[106]), contrary to Sławek's perfectionism and over-democratization.[115] Finally, on 10 January 1938, Koc resigned from his position as head of OZN, formally because of poor health.[116] Despite the official version, historians claim that Koc was made to resign by Edward Śmigły-Rydz, in favour of Stanisław Skwarczyński (Michał Grażyński's candidature was as well thought about[98]).

On 25 June 1938, Koc's cadency as Commandant-in-Chief of the Association of Polish Legionists (ZLP) was terminated (although Koc has de facto quitted ruling the organization by January 1938[117]). He was substituted by Juliusz Ulrych.[4] In this way, Koc has become an ordinary MP.

Before World War II (1938-1939)[edit]

As a result of Polish parliamentary elections in November 1938, Koc was elected to the Senate, the upper chamber of the Polish parliament. There, he was included in the Statute commission of the Senate. Additionally, Koc was head of the Military commission of the chamber.[5]

Koc (right) on the second visit to London, photographed with the ambassador of Poland to the United Kingdom, Edward Raczyński

As mentioned before, Koc was an employee to the Bank Handlowy, in 1938-1939, which he became vice-director of, on 30 March 1939.[118]

In March 1939, Adam Koc went to London for the second time for negotiations to receive an export credit for his employer. Unofficially, he was acting as well to retain Poland's image in the United Kingdom, which was formerly devastated by the annexation of Zaolzie the previous year. There, Koc met several representatives from the government and some economists in order to prepare the planned visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Józef Beck.[119] Having returned, with Śmigły-Rydz's consent, Koc was trying to convince the government to start talks about a material and a financial loan with the British, which he succeeded to do. On 10 June 1939, Koc received some informal instructions from Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski and was nominated as head of the official loan delegation to London, which parted from Warsaw three days later.[119] Initially, the delegation estimated the needed quote at ₤50-60 mln (approximately 1.24-1.49 bln zł), which was afterwards limited to a more humble ₤24 million (ca. 600 mln zł).[120] The talks were uneasy. The main problem within the Polish delegation was the question of sterling area accession, one of the conditions of the loan submittance. Contrary to Kwiatkowski, Koc likened the idea of such a monetary union.[94] At the end, the Polish delegation did not manage to receive the loan in June 1939 (although talks were to be continued in autumn). The only portion of money they received from Britain before the war broke out was a ₤8 million material loan on 2 August 1939.[121]

Activity in World War II (1939-1945)[edit]

Polish gold evacuation and escape to France[edit]

At the dawn of the September campaign, Koc was an advocate of the transfer of gold from Poland's reserves to finance the purchase of the military equipment needed to the Polish army. Two days after the conflict started, Koc asked Aleksander Litwinowicz, vice-minister of Military Affairs and chief of Army Administration, to be employed in the financial department of the General Staff, which the general accepted.[119] In such a way, Koc was reactivated in military service. Later, he was coordinating the preparations for Bank of Poland's gold evacuation by bus from Warsaw.[122] He parted with one of the convoys on 5 September to Łuck, where he handed over the control of the precious item to Ignacy Matuszewski and Henryk Floyar-Rajchman.[1]

On 10 September 1939, Koc was nominated by Mościcki as vice-minister of Treasury. The next day, Koc fled from Poland to Czerniowce. There, he, together with the ambassador of Poland in Bucharest, Roger Raczyński, tried to obtain permission to transit the gold via Romania. At the same time, it was ordered to Koc to terminate loan talks with the British government, in order to give out the money for military needs. A few days later, Koc moved to Bucharest, where he convinced Henryk Gruber, an important businessman, to send a request to the Powszechna Kasa Oszczędności (PKO) branch in New York (or Paris) to pay him a 2 mln zł loan, which, apparently, was needed to finance the needs of the Polish army.[123] "Apparently" is used, because Koc did not inform the PKO about the purpose of this transaction, which was the reason why it has never happened.[104]

Having arrived to Paris (the exact date is unknown, although it happened somewhere between 16 and 18 September that year[119][123][124]), Koc started organising the structures of the Polish Ministry of Treasure. Provided that, at the time, the Polish government was interned and Mościcki resigned, Koc was the highest-ranking representative of the Polish government in France. For some time, he was part of the council temporarily substituting the government, together with the ambassador of France, Juliusz Łukasiewicz; vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Szembek and Stanisław Burhardt-Bukacki.[4] Knowing that a coalition government was necessary, he was as well keeping contact with the opposition (for example, Władysław Sikorski).[125]

Work for Sikorski's government (1939-1941)[edit]

Minister of Industry and Trade and Minister of Treasury[edit]

On 30 September 1939, Adam Koc, one of the two piłsudskiites in Władysław Sikorski's cabinet (the other being August Zaleski, Minister of Foreign Affairs), became a minister for the first time (he became Minister of Treasury), with the Minister of Industry and Trade position occupied ten days later.[126] While being in Sikorski's cabinets, Koc was trying to preserve the Polish loans, gold, Polish money and securities,[127] which was then a problem because of the legal status of the Polish government. In addition, Koc was seeking the possibility to help Polish immigrants in Romania, France and Hungary. There, Koc was trying to cut the expenditures to the furthermost extent possible (by e.g. giving out non-paid leaves to most of the government administration by a declaration from 10 October 1939[128]), in order to preserve as much gold for after-war restoration as possible.[128] His motto on the policy could be summed up in one sentence: "I will fly over the possessions as if I were a vulture"[129] At the same time, Koc was trying to minimise expenditures on intererst, where possible. To realise the policy, Koc convinced the British to give a ₤5 million loan, before having used the ₤8 million one from August that year.[130]

While in office, a scandal appeared with Ignacy Matuszewski. The colonel, while making a report on the gold transport, was criticised for inappropriate financial expenditures on services and some other minor "unnecessary" purchases, e.g. of headache powder.[131] Having heard the pretentions, Matuszewski accused Koc for his lack of reaction on the phrases, and, later on, suggesting that Koc was the inspirator of the criticism, despite being his friend.[132]

Perhaps the worst attack, however, came from Stanisław Kot, vice-PM in the Sikorski's government and an ardent enemy to everything connected with the sanation. Koc accused him of attempting to speculate on Polish loans, monopolizing the Polish export for Koc's own profit and influencing others in order to give more power to piłsudskiites. In addition, Kot tried to prove that Koc was wasting the government's money, for example, while giving a one-time ₤30 thousand financial support to Aleksandra Piłsudska; Kot was as well content with the slow-pace style of Koc's work.[4] Under the pressure of accusations, Koc resigned from both of his offices, on 9 December 1939.[133]

II Vice-Minister of Treasury[edit]

Having resigned, Koc was later executing the position of II Vice-minister of Treasury, most probably on the insistence of Henryk Strasburger. The work with the new Minister of Treasury did not cause any problems for both parties.[4] While on the position, Koc was responsible for the organization of the military industry with the help of Polish immigrants in France (where the Polish government was located). The action's purpose was to increase the profits of the government and to develop the Polish army, while helping the immigrants to find jobs (in Turkey, if not in France).[4]

Despite Koc stepping down from his former position, the question of Polish gold was still actual. The Bank of Poland urged to evacuate gold from Beirut to either Great Britain or United States, a request which did not find support in the Ministry of Treasury. Koc was later accused by the Bank of Poland because he (presumably) was the only person in the Ministry against gold evacuation[134] from North Africa, where it was trapped in the pro-German Vichy France colonies. For that reason, Koc was made to resign. It is not known, however, when exactly was it done. Pragier suggests that Koc has done that "a few weeks before April 1940",[127] while Mierzwa proposes some later date when Sikorski's government has been under reorganization.[4] If to accept the later version, another reason why Koc left the Ministry was that he evacuated from France in too early a time (he did so on 18 June 1940 from Bordeaux, aboard on HMS "Nylon").[135] Three days later, Koc was welcoming Władysław Raczkiewicz, President of Poland, on London Paddington, a fact recorded in his diary.[136]

Polish gold vindication[edit]

Already in Great Britain, after Raczkiewicz had convinced Sikorski that Koc was innocent in the gold reserves loss,[4] Koc was given over the mission of Polish gold vindication, which, at the time, was in Dakar. As Vichy France was a puppet state of the Axis, it was impossible to get any permission to transport gold outside the French colonies from either Nazi Germany or Italy, the actual rulers of the territory. At the same time, the Bank of France possessed some gold reserves in New York worth a few hundred million dollars. Thus, Koc decided to make USA arrest the whole French reserves of gold while seeking the possibility to find an immediate loan (since the Polish gold would not be returned yet).[4] He was as well sent to assess the possible engagement of the American financial institutions into the future reconstruction of Poland.

In mid-September 1940, Adam Koc sailed out of Liverpool to the USA, arriving in early October. There, Adam Koc revealed that the Belgian officials have also submitted a request to receive the French gold to the federal government. Koc was named head of the gold vindication committee, a nomination protested by Henryk Strasburger, Minister of Treasury, and Bohdan Winiarski, a right-wing politician and then Head of the Bank of Poland. In June 1941, Sikorski suspended the commission's activity.[4]

Adam Koc's grave in Oxford, England

Later life[edit]

After the war, he was a chef at a pension in Sea Cliff, and at the Waldorf Astoria New York. At the same time, he was a board member at the Jozef Pilsudski Institute of America.

Koc died on 3 February 1969 in New York. He was buried in grave L2-245 at Wolvercote Cemetery in England; his symbolic grave (marked kw. A12-7-29) is located in Warsaw’s Powazki Cemetery

Honours and awards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Koc, Adam (2005). Wspomnienia. Wrocław: Towarzystwo przyjaciół Ossolineum. pp. 8–10. ISBN 83-7095-080-9. 
  2. ^ Morawski, Wojciech (1998). Słownik historyczny bankowości polskiej do 1939 roku [The historical dictionary of Polish banking until 1939] (PDF) (in Polish). Fundacja Bankowa im. Leopolda Kronenberga; Muza. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Milek, Jerzy. "Głos Prawdy ma nowego Naczelnego Redaktora" ["Głos Prawdy" newspaper has its new editor-in-chief] (in Polish). Retrieved 2017-07-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al Mierzwa, Janusz (2006). Pułkownik Adam Koc. Biografia polityczna [Colonel Adam Koc. A political biography.]. Studia z Historii XX Wieku (in Polish). Cracow: Historia Iagellonica. ISBN 83-88737-33-3. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Parlamentarzyści - Pełny opis rekordu - Koc Adam Ignacy". (in Polish). Bibiloteka Sejmowa. Retrieved 2017-07-11. 
  6. ^ a b Laskowski, Otton, ed. (1934). Encyklopedia Wojskowa. Warsaw. pp. 298–299. 
  7. ^ Skłodowski, Krzysztof (1999). Dzisiaj ziemia wasza jest wolna. O niepodległość Suwalszczyzny [Today your land is free. On the independence of Suwałki region.] (in Polish). Suwałki: Muzeum Okręgowe w Suwałkach. p. 12. 
  8. ^ "Historia szkoły" [The history of school] (in Polish). Retrieved 2017-07-10. 
  9. ^ a b Rokicki, Cz. (1938). "Rewolucyjna młodzież narodowa". Niepodległość. XVIII: 272–277. 
  10. ^ a b Miedziński, Bogusław (1976). Moje wspomnienia (3) [My memories (3)] (in Polish). 35. Paris: Zeszyty Historyczne. pp. 98–99, 112–113. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Wrzos, Konrad (13 Feb 1936). "Z żołnierza - dziennikarz, z dziennikarza - skarbowiec" [From a soldier to a journalist, from a journalist to an economist]. (in Polish). Warsaw: Polska Zbrojna. pp. 1, 5. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  12. ^ Brzozowski, W. (11 November 1934). "Powstanie i pierwszy rok pracy POW" [The creation and the first year of POW's activity]. Strzelec (in Polish) (45): 7. 
  13. ^ Jędrzejewicz, Wacław (1981). Kronika życia Józefa Piłsudskiego 1867-1935 [The chronicles of Józef Piłsudski's life 1867-1935] (in Polish). London: Polska Fundacja Kulturalna. p. 297. While describing the scene of promotion, Koc is forgotten, but information is present in [3] that Koc was as well promoted. 
  14. ^ "Military History Online - The Great Retreat, Eastern Front 1915". Retrieved 2017-07-10. 
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