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Kresy Family

Second Polish Republic


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This website has been created to promote, honour and preserve for posterity the history and experiences of Polish citizens, of all religions and of all ethnic backgrounds from the Eastern Borderlands of Poland known as Kresy Wschodnie. Kresy comprises Wilno and the regions of Lithuania, Polesie, Belarus, Wolyn and Podole. During the Second Polish Republic (map), from 1918 up to the end of WW II, this area would have included modern day Western Ukraine and Western Belarus. East Ukraine and East Belarus, although remaining under Soviet occupation after 1918, were nevertheless regarded by many Poles as Kresy.

Whilst the Polish community is often seen as one of the UK’s newest ethnic minorities, much less well-known are the 250,000 Polish citizens who came to the UK just after the Second World War. Some of these eventually settled in the USA and Canada. Many of this group originated from Kresy, and were among the 1.7 million who had been deported by Stalin to forced labour in Siberia in 1940-1941. Having suffered intolerable oppression, enslavement, and inhuman living conditions, many of the deported did not survive. Those who did survive faced a treacherous journey back to Europe via Iran, Africa and India.

Thousands of these people from Kresy joined the new Polish Army under British command that fought the Germans at Tobruk in November 1941; at Monte Cassino, Italy, in May 1944 in one of the bloodiest battles in history; at the Falaise Gap in August 1944 in what was possible the decisive battle of the Normandy invasion; and in September 1944 at the Battle of Arnhem. 

In an attempt to retrace their steps, we enter into one of the darkest areas of World War II history, which has too often proved to make for uncomfortable reading. We hope to increase understanding of the strength, tenacity and determination of the Polish nation and to show how their faith, hope, tradition and culture played an important part in their survival during WW II.

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© Kresy Family February 2016

(Updated November 2016)