Kresy Family

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"Ognisco Rodzin osadnikow Kresowych (OROK)"

Military Settlements in the Polish Eastern Borderlands 1920-1945
(Short historical background and short notes on our organisation [OROK])
written by Mr Ryszard Grzybowski

In 1918, Poland regained its sovereignty which it lost at the end of the 18th century to three neighbouring powers: Russia, Prussia and Austria. Two years later, however, in 1920, the country had to fight again with its eastern neighbouring-communist Russia for its independence.

The whole nation, united in its desire to retain its freedom, resisted the Red Army which was forced to retreat.  An armistice was signed in Riga on 12 October 1920.

On 17 December 1920, the Diet (Sejm) passed the law endowing some soldiers of merit with land in the country's Eastern Borderlands, retained by Poland through bravery. The settlement of soldiers was thought to be the most effective way to increase Polish population in those areas. The total number of military settlers was estimated (in mid-1930) at approximately 9,000. Most military settlements were called OSADY and hence their occupants were called osadnicy.

In 1983, in England, several of the descendants of those military settlers formed an organisation: "Ognisko Rodzin osadnikow  Kresowych" (OROK) to promote memories of achievements, tragedies; and especially to pay homage to our parents.

February 1940 was the start of a tragic chapter in the history of the military settlers: 90% of settlers were forcibly deported to Siberia or other places in Russia.  It is thought that half never returned and died there.

We have over 400 members on three continents and we have published the following three books:

1. "Z Kresów Wschodnich R.P. 1921-1940"

2. "Z Kresów Wschodnich na Wygnanie"

3. "Stalin's Ethnic Cleansing", an English translation of Book No.2.

Our organisation has arranged and has financed four plaques to commemorate Military Settlers: two in Warsaw; one in Białystok, Poland; and one in St. Bobola's Church in London.

An independant sister organisation in Poland, "Stowarzyszenie Rodzin Osadników Wojskowych i Cywilnych Kresów Wschodnich" in Warsaw was formed in 1995. It has a larger membership, mostly Poland-based.

Reverend (Diakon) Czesław Pukacz was its first chairman for ten years 1983-1993 with its base at Fenton in Lincolnshiire at the Boys' & Girls' Scouts Centre where he was in charge of activities. He was followed by: Mr Józef Szczuka; Mr Bronisław Wawrzkowicz; Mrs Bronisława (nee Kacperek); and Mr Ryszard Grzybowski.

Regretfully, OROK has had to cease functioning  in 2013.