Translation from the book
Z Kresów Wschodnich R.P. Wspomnienia z Osad Wojskowych 1921-1940
(From: The Eastern Borderlands of Poland, Memories of Military Settlements 1921-1940)
Pub: Ognisko Rodzin Osadników Kresowych (OROK) (Association of the Families of the Borderland Settlers)
London, UK. 1992 and 1998
ISBN 1 872286 33 X
Province (Województwo) WILNO
District (Powiat) Postawa
My father, Franciszek Polnik, was born in 1899 in Łowce, near Przemyśl. He served in the infantry of the Polish Army in the First World War operating machine guns, with the rank of Senior Rifleman.
After the Bolshevik War, he received land in the Wilno region and was a military settler. He married Antonina Turek, also born in Łowce.
The name of the settlement was Kuropol, comprising around 16 families, located 18 km east of the District town of Postawa. The land was undulating through which the Miedziółka river flowed.
It was a 65-acre farm, with sandy loam soil, with black earth in places, and it had a very large and productive meadow. In early spring, the river always flooded the meadow.
During the war, the frontline crossed the farm and there were a great many trenches and shelters in the deciduous forest (birches and osier willows), where we would play as children and collect firearm cartridges. In several ponds that were created by the explosions of heavy artillery missiles, there were carp and frogs.
The buildings comprised a wooden house with a brick foundation, two rooms, a kitchen, pantry, and a narrow but long sunny living room with a veranda. Behind the house was a chiller and outside stairs with a porch and entrance to the attic where mother kept smoked sausages. On a nice day, one could see the wooden watchtower from the porch, which was built in Koziany during the War.
The long stables were divided into three parts: room for four horses, six cows, and several pigs. Father used to give the wafer1 to the cattle on Christmas Eve. On the opposite side of the stables, behind the pond, there was a barn with farm equipment and three stacks with a removable roof, where father usually stored hay or clover. These stacks were a bait for hares, guinea fowl and deer, which father would shoot from time to time with his old rifle brought from the war.
The farm equipment consisted of two ploughs, two carts, including one hayrack wagon, three kinds of harrows, threshers for the horse mill, and a steamer.
Next to the house was a garden, mainly vegetables, and a large orchard whose trunks were limewashed, and in late autumn were wrapped with straw.
Father usually sowed rye, barley, oats, flax, and wheat. He planted potatoes and sometimes sowed clover which he supplied, together with hay and grains, to the army in Wilno.
There was a farmhand and herder to help out on the farm. During the harvest and haymaking, father would hire several dozen workers to help out.
There were four of us children: three sisters and me (I was eight years old when the Soviets deported us to Siberia on 10th February 1940). The two older sisters attended the lower secondary school, one in Postawy, and the other, the oldest, in Wilno, under the care of by our paternal uncle who was a professional soldier and, apart from that, a settler.
After the outbreak of the Second World War, the whole family was broken up. The oldest sister had to stay in Wilno (now she’s in Chicago), father was arrested for being a “kulak”2 and was imprisoned in Barnaul. The two younger sisters and my mother and I were deported; we were taken to the “posiołek”3 in Żmiejnogorsk beyond the Urals, until the formation of the Polish Army.
My father, after his release from the “łagier” labour camp, joined the army and was in the 2nd Corps of Gen. Anders. My mother with my two sisters, after leaving Russia, were taken to Valivade in India until the end of the war. As for me, I joined the “Junak” cadets in Karkin-Batasz, but after eight months removed to an orphanage in Africa because I was too young.
1 Polish tradition of sharing an unleavened, embossed Christmas wafer on Christmas Eve.
2 Owner of a large estate
3 Family work camp
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