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Abstract

The article describes the functioning of British consulate in Szczecin, paying special attention to activities undertaken by the heads of the consulate (vice-consuls), namely Joseph Walters, David Garnett Mitchell and Henry Francis Bartlett who were knowledgeable and competent officials delegated from the Foreign Office in London. Nevertheless, what had a negative effect on the work they carried out in the city on the Odra river was internal and external invigilation by the Security Service (SB) and the fact they were isolated and had hardly any contact with Polish institutions or the local community. Duties performed by the vice-consuls included not only standard administrative procedures (e.g. granting visas) or attention for their few compatriots, but most of all the observation of processes and events taking place in West Pomerania. Information function, which the British consulate fulfilled by submitting reports to their supervisors, was performed through reading local newspapers, asking people for their opinion, listening to the local community and “the hubbub of the street“. While at the very beginning the vice-consuls placed an emphasis on economic or socio-demographic issues, since the end of the 1940’s they paid special attention to political matters in their reports, which had to do with changes arising from the socialisation of life in Poland. The reports submitted by the British consulate confirmed the Foreign Office in their opinion about the presence of Polish people in West Pomerania. Needless to say, it was rather negative. The communist administration and new inhabitants of the former German lands were often criticized for the walking pace of the reconstruction and development of particular areas of economy which, according to the British, did not guarantee the adequate development of the region. Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service, which questioned the belonging of Szczecin and the adjacent area to Poland and at the same time officially honoured the Potsdam agreement, postponed adopting their stance on the Polish-German border by the time another peace conference was organized. Nevertheless, it is worth noticing that by applying to Polish authorities for permission to establish vice-consulate in Szczecin, Great Britain recognized formally that Polish authorities did administer West Pomerania.
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