MILITARY SETTLEMENTS ON THE EASTERN BORDERLANDS
7. September 17, 1939
The end of military and civil settlements in the Kresy began on 17 September 1939, the day the Red Army invaded Polish lands, and its finale took place on 10 February 1940 when the Soviets, in the first forced transfer, deported settlers and their families to Siberia and to northern regions of the European part of Russia.
It goes without saying that the Soviets were already interested in the Kresy settlements many years before the war. In 1927, in the Krasnaja Zwiezda organ of the Red Army, two virulent articles about Polish military settlements were published. They described how, in the event of war that Piłsudski... was preparing, the Red Army will have to contend with the significant and powerful settlement element..., and they indicated in their threats that... the revolutionary wave in the Kresy region of eastern Poland agaist former masters will also wipe out the new settler semi-masters. It was not a social revolution but Soviet atrocities which destroyed the military settlements. With the entry of the NKVD into Kresy began the arrests of well-known Polish activists including settlers. Among the first to be arrested in Równe was settler Dezydery Smoczkiewicz, the President of the Settlers’ Union Volhynian Province Council.
Soon after, the Soviets began the expropriation, mostly of the landed gentry, military settlers, and rich peasants and in January 1940, they began to prepare for deportations. The settlers, foresters and their families were taken away in February in the first of four forced deportations. This was the most terrible transport because of the freezing weather with temperatures of minus 30°C, which was extremely difficult to survive and led to mass deaths. There is no data concerning the number of expelled settlers and their families but assuming that around 5-10% of people avoided deportation the number that were exiled can be approximated to 90-95 thousand people. This is around 8% of the total civilian population residing in the Kresy before the war that was expelled and, taking into account the deported Polish Kresy population alone, the percentage of settler families reaches 12-13%.33 The number of people who were on the forced transport and survived the inhumane conditions of exile remains unknown. Some of them went to the “free world” with the army of General Anders, while others returned to Poland after the war. That being said, it cannot be ruled out that some individuals stayed in that distant land and live there to this day.
33 Calculation based on the following data: the number of military and civilian settlers with their families in 1939 came to approx. 95-100 thousand people, the civilian population that was expelled from the lands occupied by the USSR - 1114 thousand, 703 thousand of which were Polish citizens. Data on the expelled population according to Deportacje i przemieszczenia ludności polskiej w głąb ZSRR [The Deportations and Relocation of the Polish Population deep into USSR territory], Warsaw 1989, pp. 23-24.
6. Engagement Obituary Janina Stobniak-Smogorzewska
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 (out of print)
ISBN 1 872286 33 X
Province (Województwo) WOŁYŃ