People researching the Osady would be very interested in Pani Stobiak-Smogrzewska s latest book Kresowe Osadnictwo Wojskowe 1920 - 1945 . This book is inMessage 1 of 11 , Jun 9, 2004View SourcePeople researching the Osady would be very interested in Pani Stobiak-Smogrzewska's latest book "Kresowe Osadnictwo Wojskowe 1920 1945". This book is in Polish and provides a very extensive background to how any why the military settlements were formed. It is also packed with facts and figures and lists Osady by name throughout the Kresy.Pani Stobiak-Smogrzewska has asked my to copy the attached summary from her book. Amongst other places the book can be bought in the UK from the Veritas Foundation vertitas@.... I think it cost about £15.00.A a result of this book I have been able to locate the location of my familiies Osada. Through OROK I have also been able to find the names of all 4 Osadnicy on our Osada Zacisze, and have even established contact with a lady who was a neighbour and who has been able to provide me with my only prewar photo of my grandfather!So to anyone interested in Osady I recommend both the book and membership of OROK (details at http://www.aforgottenodyssey.com/mainref.html#r16 )Janusz
Military Settlement in the Polish Eastern Marches 1920-1945
From the book Kresowe Osadnictwo Wojskowe 1920 1945,
by Janina Stobiak-Smogrzewska, published by Instytut Studiow Politycznych, 2003
In 1918 Poland regained its sovereignty, lost at the end of 18th century to three neighboring powers: Russia , Prussia and Austria , but two years later, in I 920,the country had to fight again for its independence with its eastern neighbor - communist Russia . The whole nation, united in its desire to retain its freedom, resisted the Red Army which was forced to retreat An armistice was signed at Riga on 12th October 1920, and cease-fire followed six days later. Poland 's eastern border was thus secure.
On 17th December 1920 the Polish Diet (Sejm) passed the law endowing some soldiers of merit with land in the country's Eastern Marches, retained by Poland through their bravery. The settlement of soldiers was thought to be the most effective way to increase Polish population in those areas where the Ukrainians and Byelorussians represented the overwhelming majority. They were expected to play an important role in the economic and cultural life .of that part of the country where the conditions were exceedingly backward. Large parts of the land given to soldiers - in pre-1914 time - belonged to the tsar's family, the Russian government and Russian landlords. This was supplemented by land taken away from Polish landlords and gentry in the framework of land reform.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Central Land Office (Gl6wny Urzad Ziemski) and the Ministry of Defense were vested with responsibility to implement the 17th December 1920 law. Their representatives were included in the local committees dealing with all problems concerning the settlement. The number of problems had been steadily rising as detailed regulations were not prepared on time and local committees tried to solve them on their own account and not always in the best way. This led to some disarray and was reflected in a hostile attitude of local population towards the newcomers - the ex-soldiers. Military settlement was much resented by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peasants, expecting the land in question to be passed to them. In fact, it was a great mistake made by the local committees that part of land was not distributed at the same time between the local peasants as it was originally planned by the authorities. The settlers (osadnicy), during their annual conferences in Warsaw , often had taken up this subject claiming that land reform in Eastern Marches was a political necessity and in the interest of Polish State .
The help given to soldiers by the government - not counting the land was limited to often overused military horses and carts from demobilization, certain quantities of timber and small amount of credits, quickly - due to high inflation - declining in value. The main assets of ex-soldiers were their youthful enthusiasm and ability to resist hardship, which they acquired during war time. Most of them were 20-25 years old and nearly all were bachelors. About 16% of all settlers-soldiers were officers, 42% non-commissioned officers and about 70% had some agricultural experience.
The first years were very hard and a number of volunteers abandoned the idea to become fanners. The soldiers received their plots of ground in the remote countryside with dirt-tracks not easily used in rainy seasons or during winter blizzards with temperature often below 20 degrees. The land was bare without any buildings and so - in order to survive - they had to make their own dug-outs or to find primitive accommodation in the neighboring villages of local population. It took some time before the land, devastated by war, recovered its fertility. Under those circumstances soldiers' fanning was not spectacular and became a subject of wide-spread criticism from an economic and political point of view. The Sejm, aware of all the difficulties encountered by ex-soldiers and the inability of the Treasury to help them, in March 1923 decided to suspend military settlement in Eastern Marches. The law on land reform of 28th December 1925 decisively ended this idea.
The total number of military settlers was estimated (in mid-1930s) at about 9.0-9.1 thousands of which 3.8 thousand settled in Wolyn (Volhynia), 1.1 thousand in Polesie (Polesye), 2.0 thousand in Nowogr6dek voivodeship, 1.2 thousand in Wilno (Vilna) voivodeship and 1.0 thousand in Bialystok voivodeship. There were some 680-700 military settlements (osady). The average size of a holding varied depending on the quality ofland, ranging from 11-15 ha in fertile Wolyn to 25 ha in marshy Polesie.
By the end of 1920s the life on osady was stabilized. The bachelor-soldier transformed into a father of the family was by now an experienced farmer taking active part in the local economic and cultural life. Osadnicy organized agricultural associations and cooperatives encouraging local peasants to join them. Their use of artificial fertilizers, cultivation of pulses and industrial crops like sugar beet or tobacco, growing orchard fruit as well as introduction of new breeds of livestock were observed and followed by local peasantry. In most places the relations between settlers and Ukrainian and Byelorussian peasants greatly improved and were friendly at the local level. It is interesting that this sort of symbiosis has been noted on the prosperous osady, while on poor ones a certain animosity still survived.
The future looked bright but the world crisis, lasting until mid-1930s proved a great blow. Settlers' farms, being expanded by using bank credits, were particularly vulnerable with debts rising. However, the government took some necessary measures by reducing debts and thus the settlers' farms were on the way to recovery.
Most of the military osady were the best examples of civilization in those outlying portions of Poland . In June 1932 Mr Frank Savery, British Consul-General in Warsaw , in his report on a tour of Wolyn wrote: "I should like to say that I visited one of the largest settlements of Polish military colonists - in the neighborhood of Rowne. Although I consider that in general military colonisation was carried out by the Polish Government in the years 1920-1922 on a scale too small to be of practical use and with a subsequent neglect of the colonists which in too many cases foredoomed it to failure, I am considerably impressed by what I saw near Rowne. About 250 families of old soldiers are living there in three or four groups of settlements [those osady were: Krechowiecka, Hallerowo, Jazlowiecka Bajon6wka - J.S-S.]. The size of the holdings varies according to the quality of the soil, but 11 hectares is a normal figure. One or two ex-officers have considerably larger model holdings. The level of cultivation is in general good - in some cases very good indeed. There is a strong esprit de corps, which has led to same very respectable collective as well as individual achievements - the building of a village hall (dom ludowy) with several rooms, the establishment of a dairy co-operative and the like. And - most interesting perhaps of all artisans from the towns of Central Poland have turned into pertinacious and efficient tillers of the soil" [Public Record Office, London , FO 417/30, p.101].
Although osadnicy and their families made only about 0.5% of the total Eastern Poland 's population and their holdings did not exceed 1% of the total number of small farms their share in the public life was quite substantial. As the available information proves in 1930s over one thousand of them were engaged in the work of local councils. They were also busy at agricultural, cooperative and cultural organisations, some were civil servants or stayed in the Army. It was estimated that about a quarter of them were thus somehow engaged in public service. They were better prepared for that type of job than the local people, mostly uneducated peasants. In the 1935 election 13 military settlers became Members of Sejm and 2 - senators in Upper House (Senat).
Osadnicy, all of them the members of Zwiazek Osadnikow, ZOS (Settlers' Union), supported the government's policy in the Eastern Marches but they were far from any party-contests. Their organization, ZOS, formed in 1922, has been guided by a political formation Zwiazek Naprawy Rzeczypospolitej, "Naprawa" ( Union for the Reform of the Republic), advocating far reaching coexistence between Polish and non-Polish populations. In contrast to right wing parties, calling for "national assimilation" of the Ukrainians and Byelorussians, "Naprawa" endorsed "state
assimilation", i.e. loyalty to Polish State while preserving own national characteristics. In 1937, in his report, the Wolyn voivode Mr Jozewski, addressing the assembly of 600 military settlers mentioned that during two days of discussion on difficult economic problems not even one hostile word to the Ukrainians was heard, but - on the contrary - all speeches were concerned with the friendly collaboration with their local neighbours.
Since the end of 1920s osadnicy paid a lot of attention to the education of their children at all stages - from primary school to university. A number of new school buildings have been erected by osady although the majority of children were going to the schools in neighbouring villages or small towns, mixing with local children. By 1938 there were four grammar schools (gimnazja), founded by ZOS in R6wne, Kowel, Lida and Wilno. ZOS has also established training centres for settlers' children intending to work as artisans and shopkeepers, badly needed in eastern parts of the country. As many children went to schools in the towns ZOS organised special hostels, called ogniska (there were 12 of them in 1938) with highly qualified tutors. All those centres - schools and hostels - had an important educational aim which was to prepare a young generation for future work in the Marches . Once a year, in spring, all those youngsters had a meeting in one of eastern towns and competed in sport, choral singing and orchestral music. During the last of such festivals in Grodno , in May 1939, about 1400 persons gathered. In autumn 1939 the first group of boys, future successors of their fathers, would have started training on selected modem farms in western parts of the country, but on 1 September Germany invaded Poland.
The entry of the Red Army into the eastern territories of Poland on 17th September 1939 and the Soviet-German treaty of 23th August 1939 dividing Poland was the start of a tragic chapter in the history of the military settlers.
Osadnicy were aware that the Soviets had not forgotten their contribution to the defeat of the Red Army in 1920 and they expected the worst. They were also unsure how the Ukrainians and Byelorussians would behave. To a large degree the settlers' premonitions proved correct. Ukrainian and Byelorussian gangs of criminals and communists attacked many military settlements as well as manors of Polish aristocracy and gentry engaging in looting and killing. At the same time the NKVD (Soviet People's Commissariat of Internal Affaires) began arrests of many Poles, including military settlers. For example: in the osada Puzieniewicze in Nowogrodek area 23 settlers out of a total of 43 were arrested, put in Ostashkov camp in Russia and in April/May 1940 all of them were executed. The military settlers along with landowners, officers and "capitalists" were a hostile group for whom there was no place in the Soviet order.
Soon after the invasion the NKVD proceeded to register all settlers and members of their families asking for many details. It became clear that something dangerous was in the offing. Some families left their homes and went to the central parts of Poland , occupied by the Germans. About 90% of all settlers remained on the farms and during the night on 9/1 0 February 1940 were taken away and deported to the north-eastern parts of the Soviet Union with 70% going to the Archangel region. They were housed in special camps supervised by NKVD, mostly in wooden barracks deep in the forest. Inhuman, unbearable conditions - severe frost, hunger, exhausting work, lack of medical help - caused high death rates, exceeding 5% annually.
Hope came with the Polish-Soviet treaty signed on 30th July 1941 and with the issuing of a decree of "amnesty" on 12th August 1941 which allowed Polish people, deported and kept in prisons, to recover their citizenship. The majority decided to move to the southern regions where the formation of the Polish Army started. Many settlers and their grown-up children joined the Army and by this means left Soviet Union in 1942, being followed by their families. As the soldiers of the Polish II Corps they took part in the fighting in Italy .
On 25th April 1943, after the mass graves of massacred Polish officers were found at Katyn (north-western part of Russian Republic ), Polish Soviet relations were soured. The majority of Polish people, including large number of settlers' families, were compelled to remain in the Soviet Union . Many serving in the Polish Army formed at the side of Red Army, entered Poland in spring 1944 but the others remained in the Soviet Union returning only in 1946. However, they could not go back to their osady because Polish territories of the Eastern Marches - as three great powers ( Great Britain , USA and Soviet Union) decided at Yalta Conference in February 1945 - were annexed to the Soviet Union . This was the end of military settlement in the Polish Eastern Marches .