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) Polesie
OSADA CHYLIN (CHININ)
Postal District (Poczta) Wysock
District (Powiat) Stolin
The Chylin settlement was located at a river fork where the Horyń and the Słucz met. There was a railway line running alongside the settlement, but it was around 3km to the nearest station. There were three villages nearby: Biała, Milacz and Udryck, which were mostly inhabited by Belarusians. The nearest small town of Wysock was located on the banks of the Horyń River, and it was 7km from the settlement. It was mainly inhabited by Jews, followed by Ukrainians and Belarusians. The Jews were usually employed in tailoring, carpentry, shoemaking, and they were also owners of various shops and stores, so all the trade was in their hands.
The four-form primary school was housed in settler Jaworski’s place. Senior school pupils had to travel to the small town of Wysock where there was a newly-built 7-form school. For secondary school or other higher education establishments one had to travel to cities like Pińsk or Brześć.
In spring the rivers sometimes overflowed. The water flooded a large portion of the settlement and one could only get to the small town of Wysock by boat. Such flooding could last several days, sometimes even longer. One year, there was an exceptional flood, the water submerged buildings up to the windowsills, causing a lot of damage.
The settlers earned their living through farming, sowing rye, oats, wheat, buckwheat, rapeseed, flax, hemp, and clover and, where the soil was poor, they sowed barley, plant potatoes, sugar beet and red beets, swede, and various kinds of vegetables. Some had apiaries. Almost everyone had their own fruit trees ─ pears, plums, sour cherries, lots of sweet cherries, various kinds of apple trees, and raspberries and blackcurrants.
Rearing poultry was widespread: chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys. Cows were also very successfully bred, as were horses, pigs for bacon, and even sheep, although wolves would attack and steal them so they stopped keeping sheep.
Crops were cultivated with the use of horses. There were no tractors. Hence, a horse was an essential working creature and had to pull such agricultural equipment as swing ploughs, drill seeders, and harrows. Threshers and cultivators were treadmill powered which had to be pulled by four horses.
Scythes were used to harvest crops. Hay cropping was also done using a scythe because there were no mowers. Hay making and the harvest was a time of very hard work. Sometimes there were around 60 women ─ hired labourers ─ in a row to harvest the potatoes and beetroots. They were usually Belarusian women from the surrounding villages or khutors [single homestead settlements]. Workers were hired for the whole day, which is why a large quantity of food was required for such a large group. The food consisted of bread, milk, potatoes, pork fat, cucumbers in brine, tomatoes, and sauerkraut.
The Chylin settlement developed successfully. An Agricultural Association was established which provided help and guidance to farmers. There was also a shared dairy. There were plans to improve the roads, which were sandy in spring and very muddy in autumn. They even intended to buy shared agricultural machines but all these plans and intentions weren’t realised because settlement life came to an end due to Soviet aggression against Poland in 1939. The settlers were forcibly removed from the settlement and deported to Russia to suffer a life of misery and terrible destitution.