Following the outbreak of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, talks began between Stalin and the Polish government in exile. These concluded with the signing of the Sikorski-Mayski agreement (30 July 1941). In August 1941, Soviet authorities issued an “amnesty” decree for Polish citizens. The use here of the word “amnesty” in quotation marks emphasizes the fact that the procedure extended to people who had been deported and imprisoned because of their nationality or social status, contrary to international law and in breach of human rights.
The Polish-Soviet agreement enabled the Polish Embassy to resume operations, and gave Polish people an opportunity to leave their places of exile. Moreover, it created a legal basis for the formation of the Polish Army in the USSR, under the command of Gen. Władysław Anders (hence the name Anders’ Army). The army was a component of the Polish Armed Forces, subordinate to the government in London.