Life on the lands given to the World War I soldiers took different directions.
Compared to Osada Krechowiecka, our Rejtanów was a real Cinderella, in the full meaning of this word. Administratively it belonged to the Dubno District, even though it was closer to Równe, and even closer to Łuck.
It was a relatively small settlement, entirely isolated (surrounded on all sides by Ukrainian villages). Twelve military settlers lived there, each one granted twelve hectares and one former officer owning 40 hectares. A larger group was formed by the so-called “civilian settlers” (those who for whatever reason did not serve in the military during the war). They each received only four hectares of land. It is hard to judge now, whether- and to what degree – it was right and just. I must mention right away that some of them were able to settle, farm and live more prosperously than several of the military settlers. Perhaps it happened because the military settlers hailed not only from various regions of the country but also from various social strata and the majority of them had no farming experience; whereas the civilian settlers probably came from farming families.
As far as I can remember the relationships between these two groups were never close or cordial. I suppose that there must have been some common – justified and understandable – jealousy on one side, and on the other side a lot of sense of superiority.
Relationships with Ukrainians varied depending on the age, passage of time and the external propaganda. One thing is for certain, that in contrast to the Równe district settlements, the relationships were getting worse over time; immediately before the war they were awfully bad, especially among the younger generation. Unavoidable encounters between children and youths invariably ended with an exchange of fruity and indiscriminate insults. It was particularly strange because all of us were attending the same thoroughly modern school located in the Ukrainian village Nowosiółki.
At the beginning, Rejtanów had a tiny school for a few children. The lessons took place in a single room and the female teacher, if I remember well, was paid by the parents. Efforts to get a school building and teaching personnel over many years resulted in the construction of a modern school with three state-sponsored teachers in the aforementioned Ukrainian village for both Polish and Ukrainian children. The very concept was certainly right and well thought out since, if we were to coexist, we should grow up together and start to meld into a single entity at the age when it was still possible. As I mentioned above it did not, unfortunately, lead to a more harmonious coexistence. Whereas the older people not only tolerated each other but liked each other and had neighbourly conversations (many of us survived later thanks to parcels from Ukrainians) younger people had progressively less common liking or understanding and any sense of connection towards each other and after the outbreak of the war these were the lands with the most bloodshed, where the most cruel tortures were administered to each other. Perhaps, if not for the proximity of the war and an inseparable, hostile, anti-Polish incitement of the local populace by two degenerate systems, the goals of the planners of dispersion of the Polish population among Ukrainian villages with time could have been fulfilled – we could have become neighbours, speaking two different languages and having two different faiths. What, however, could be done in 15 or 16 years of growing uncertainty?
Our settlement did not receive an extra allotment of land so we had no place to set up a general store, build a community room, a library, or a chapel. The closest town, twelve kilometres away was the historical Ołyka where we would go for larger shopping (there was a tiny Jewish store in Nowosiółki) or about twice a year to church. In the settlement we did have a cross, where we would gather during warm May evenings to say the litany and to sing several religious hymns.
Nowosiólki had its own nice Orthodox church built before the First World War.
Even though our Rejtanów was not the “centre of the world’ there was no other place where sun would shine so persistently (even when we were drowning in six metre-high snowbanks), nowhere nightingales would sing so intoxicatedly and flowers were scented so sweetly.
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
DOROTA JASIŃSKA (JAROSZ)
Municipality (Gmina) Malin
District (Powiat) Dubno