Lithuania! My motherland! Thou art like health,
How much thou shouldst be valued only he can know
Who has lost thee.
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) NOWOGRÓD
Municipality (Gmina) Niechniewicze
District (Powiat) Nowogród
Based on the December Act of 1920, soldiers who voluntarily joined the Polish Army and who made a notable contribution [to the war effort] were granted ownership of 27 acres of arable land and 5 acres of meadow and pasture land from the Zaolsze estate in the Nowogród district.
I don’t know the exact history of Adampol but this was a beautiful estate, excellently managed. The huge brick complex, with an enormous recreation hall where all the buildings were supplied with electricity, was initially used as a shelter for the settlers, later to become an orphanage for boys and a school. The headmaster was Henryk Poszwiński, and the teacher was Helena Głogowska. All events, meetings, Sołtys elections, etc. were held in the building. There were many newspapers and magazines; my father subscribed to two: “Polska Zbrojna” (Armed Poland) and “Rolnik Wielkopolski” (Greater Poland Farmer). We also used the private library of Captain Niedenthal - he was the only officer to work in Nowogródek, and his wife and daughter lived on the settlement.
The rest of the settlers, with the exception of four, were of non-commissioned officer rank. Most of them served in the 1st Legions Regiment. Three were awarded the Virtuti Militari Cross, they were: Cieśliński, Kozakiewicz, and Dobrowolski. Their wartime experiences were their favourite topic. They would have thrown themselves into a fire following after “Dziadek” (Grandfather) Piłsudski. After his passing, they all turned up at his grave with a pouch of soil. This immense respect overflowed onto us, too; I remember to this day the first words of Piłsudski’s proclamation:
“Soldiers, you have the tremendous honour to be the first to cross the border of the Russian Partition as the front column of the Polish Army; you are all equal in the sacrifices that you are to make”.
The first years were very difficult, there were no buildings or farm tools; I think that everyone got just two horses with a harness from military carts. The nearest stores were in Niechniewicze. Everyone had to be self-sufficient - I remember exactly how my father would make his own fishing rods from a horse’s tail to go fishing, and hooks and needles from bicycle spokes.
Even later, when they had already somehow got things sorted, great damage was done by the local population, the Belarusians. They would burn standing crops and buildings, poison water in the well, and graze the meadows located on the banks of the River Niemen, 11 km away from our settlement. The settlers had organised a guard, and shot a few of the arsonists; nobody even knew which village they came from. They hired the Wilczek family to guard the meadows and after which no cow from the village chewed a single blade of grass. However, after the Soviet invasion, the Belarusians took revenge on the Wilczek family. They murdered the entire family.
Three settlers gave up the plot, leasing it out, and they themselves headed back to their homeland. The Eastern Borderland was not their country.
The church, the post office, and the police station were located in Niechniewicze, the closest neighbouring settlement. There were two others also close by: Kosy Dwór, and Murowanka. All of them belonged to the same municipality.
There was a large library, a dairy, a settlers’ cooperative, and an Agricultural Association in Niechniewicze - this is where we completed primary school. 80% of the pupils were Belarusians, 15% were the children of the settlers, and the rest were Jews, in whose hands were all the businesses. The lower secondary school and the dormitory of the settlement was in Nowogródek, which was attended by six children from our settlement. In Koszulewo, close to Nowojelnia, there also was a small military settlement and an agricultural school, I and most of my friends intended to go there.
Four settlers remained as bachelors, two of them got married, and rest of the wives usually came from central Poland. On average, there were three children in a family.
After 20 years of hard work when life had become settled and going well, the war broke out. The local militia took our fathers, kept them for a week in cellars, later tied them with rope by their hands and herded them like cattle to Nowogródek and, from there, to Russia.
We were left alone, I was only twelve years old. I still went to school for some time, but I couldn’t take the harassment and persecution any longer.
My poor mum worked beyond her strength until the very last day. I helped out as much as I could, both of us dug up potatoes and moved them to the cellar. The local people would turn up every day and took literally anything they fancied - be it a cow, or a horse. The horses would always come back.
Despite all this, I have beautiful memories of Adampol and the words of Mickiewicz often come to mind:
Perhaps I will return one day - at least to dig out from the ground behind the barn my father’s military awards, a French rifle, and the eagle of the Legions.
The surnames of the settlers from the Adampol settlement: Nowicki, Rojek, Świątkiewicz, Kozakiewicz, Pasiak, Ogrodowski, Klepacki, Cieśliński, Warchoł, Olczyk, Garstka, Górecki (three brothers), Karbownik, Kojder, Suchocki, Chełchowski, Zwieżyński, Czarnecki, Kotowski, Bielecki, Mielczarek, Marel, Buzuk, Błazik, Czykirski, Górski, Szunejko, Szymański, Siemiernik, Niedenthal, and Dobrowolski.
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