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Kresy Family

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) WOŁYŃ


Postal District (Poczta) Radziwiłłów

Municipality (Gmina) Brody
District (Powiat) Dubno

The Wola Piłsudskiego settlement was established after the year 1920, on the Radziwiłłów-Poczajów route. The neighbouring villages were Podzamcze, Podlipki, and Budki, mostly inhabited by Ukrainians, with whom  ̶  one could say  ̶  we had proper relations.

The settlement was not densely built-up. The settlers received 50 acres of land on average and each of them built their own house at their convenience. And so, three settlers whose plots bordered with one another in the corner built their houses so close to each other that their buildings seemed to form one farmstead; they drew their water from one well, which was 40 metres deep. Other inhabitants were about a kilometre away from their nearest neighbour. The whole settlement stretched seven or eight kilometres in one direction and was about two to three kilometres wide, with the plots scattered unevenly.

The settlers were broken down mainly into cavalrymen and infantrymen which, as was usual during relaxation, was the cause of much mutual fun-making. However, there was an officer among them, who surrendered his allocation (because that was what it was called). His 110-acre allocation was given with the consent of all the settlers to a Company Sergeant Major. Among the non-commissioned officers, there was also the Sergeant Major. Supposedly, there were still non-commissioned officers lower in rank, but my memory is already failing me. One should also mention here that the allocation of plots took place with everyone’s consent  ̶  by drawing lots. Another thing to mention here is that the settlement prided itself in having four Virtuti Militari crosses.

There were thirty settlers: Bakuniak, Cichy, Dobosz, Fałkowski, two Ferences, Gmiter, Jaroszewski, Kociuba, Kotarski, Kowalski, Kubicz, Kulczyński, Kwaśniewski, Midura, Młynarczyk, Młynarczyk, Pater, Malczewski, Markowski, Mech, Patyra, Tomczak, Wędzina, Wożakowski, Wróbel, Zięba, Żebrowski, and Żurek.

The beginnings were very tough. They lived in huts or neighbouring villages. They lacked farm tools and stock.

The settlers were usually bachelors, so the first few years were dedicated to looking for marriage partners. And so, the years 1922-1923 were abundant in big weddings (it’s always better to get through difficult times with a partner). The settlers and their wives came from different parts of Poland (Galicia and Lubelskie prevailed). They brought with them to Wołyń various regional customs, and vocabulary, as well. Over such a short time (18 years) these differences could not be smoothed out. Thus, everyone took the most out of life, each to their own, and sometimes to the irritation or amusement of others.

They also came from different social spheres, were of different financial status, and varied in the level of professional skills and knowledge required to run a farm. One wife had brought expertise and experience, another, a dowry, while others, the support of their parents. There were highs and lows. The government assistance for developments which was extended to former soldiers, considering the newly formed and scantily resourced Polish state, was quite generous; however, in view of the individual needs of each settler, it was less than half of what was needed. And so, the settlers were poor at the beginning. The first children soon started being born. On average, there were three to four children in a family. The oldest children, about 20%, attended lower secondary schools before the War in 1939: in Brody, Dubno, Krzemieniec, and Równe.


In the Podzamcze village, the Settlers established a cooperative, a National Farmer’s Cooperative Bank, and a dairy. A seven-class comprehensive school was also built in Podzamcze several years before the War. The settlers belonged to the Parish in Radziwiłłów, about 15 km away. They also used a small church in Polska Drańcza, which was several kilometres away. Near the settlement were the sprawling woods of the Krzemieniecki Upper Secondary School, whereas in Ledóchów (several kilometres away) was the Krzemieniecki Upper Secondary Farming and Agricultural School.

The settlers, amidst their hard work, busy life, and in light of their many shortfalls, would organise dances (‘shindigs”) celebrating seasonal holidays, name days, or christenings. The ladies would then bring some snacks and cakes - whilst the men would bring liquid requisites. Indispensable on such occasions was Lejba or other musicians for playing the fiddle to accompany the dancing. This was their only entertainment  ̶  brief moments of forgetting reality. The settlers also fostered customs and traditions. The years 1938-1939 already saw an improvement. Hope shined out. Only a few more years........

At the beginning, their struggles started with war. Fighting for their country, for Poland. Every one of them went as a volunteer. They achieved their goal. Now, they were still fighting, still standing guard on Poland’s frontiers. Their efforts were in vain. The fruit of their life’s struggles was taken away from them. Their hearts filled with bitterness after losing everything. Alas, that’s not all! Their families were left destitute in exile, many died of starvation in inhumane conditions. There was not even a trace left of some families.

Only a poet could sing their tragedy. All we have left, are words: honour to their memory! 

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Ladies from the settlement. From the left: Wędzina, Wróbel, Kociuba, Wożakowska, Breder, Dobosz, Pater, Młynarczyk, and Zięba.

​​Wola Piłsudskiego settlement, 1934  ̶  The First Holy Communion of the settlers’ children. From the left (1st row): Teofila Kowalska, Lucyna Wędzina, Maria Młynarczyk, Maria Kotarska, Zofia Wędzina, Czesława Kociuba, Kazimiera Żebrowska, Danuta Bakuniak, and Mieczysława Pater; 2nd row: Teresa Jaroszewska, Helena Kowalska, Danuta Kubicz, Ewa Zienkowska, Eugenia Pater,  Madejówna (teacher), Anna Wożakowska, Karolina Wróbel, Helena Patyra, and Genowefa Kulczyńska; 3rd row: Stanisław Kulczyński, Tadeusz Wędzina, Henryk Bakuniak, Tadeusz Młynarczyk, Stanisław Patyra, Józef Zienkowski, Edward Patyra, Franciszek Żebrowski, Zdzisław Kubicz, Marian Kotarski, and Krystyna Jaroszewska. 

​​The house of Magdalena and Andrzej Pater from the Wola Piłsudskiego settlement. The only one left on the settlement after 50 years (as at 1991).

Settlers’ Lower Secondary School in Równe, 1937. Girls at a Home Economics class, with their teacher, Mr. Marszalik