Hello Piotr, Stefan, Linder, Paul, and list: Besides our Kresy odyssey research, many of us on this list are also doing genealogical research. However, this
Message 1 of 1
, Apr 21, 2002
Hello Piotr, Stefan, Linder, Paul, and list:
Besides our Kresy "odyssey" research, many of us on this list
are also doing genealogical research. However, this is not a
genealogy list. My idea was simply to petition the Archives
of Poland to return all between World War records to their rightful place in Poland.
Getting the records from Ukraine to Warsaw should not be our
concern. I do not presume to tell the Archives of Poland how to
do their jobs. Once the records are in Warsaw, much "income"
would be generated from them for the Archives, although this
too is not our concern.
I did not write negatively about the archival methods of
Poland. I probably would not mention anything negative
regarding the archival methods of Ukraine in the petition
although from what I have read, they are grossly negligible.
We descendants and survivors of the Kresy have extremely
limited, if any, access to these records as it stands now.
I say again, these records belong to Poland. Let's get them
back to their rightful archives! Are these records a State
secret? Are these records an atomic bomb? Legally these
are Polish documents and records!
I wrote yesterday that it seems we have been "forgotten" by
Poland as well. I feel this is yet another sad chapter to our
shared family histories. We are now able to acquire records
from the Memorial Project in Moscow pertaining to our families'
deportations! If Moscow is able to help us, I see no reason
why Poland cannot do this for it is the year 2002, and the
world is now a much smaller place. Our families lives and
our common plight are an important part of Polish history
which must be preserved in Poland forevermore. Frankly, it
is inconceivable that the records are not already there, which
I just realized yesterday!
If the list would like, I will write the petition, but who will translate
it to perfect Polish? Does the list agree with what I have written
New Jersey, USA
Re: Kresy Records Belong in Poland, Not Ukraine.
Firstly, I must say that I disagree. Copies - yes! Originals - no!
Please read on....
I would just like to chuck in my sixpence worth to this discussion.
Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of doing some research (on
my family roots) in the Archiwum Glowny Akt Dawnych , ul. Dluga 6, in
Warszawa- I believe this is the archive which is being referred to in this
discussion. I have had nothing but the best co-operation, and completely
open doors to whatever relevant documentation I required, most of which is
microfiched, from the personnel here. I have indeed managed to, so far,
trace data back to a marriage certificate in Stanislawow in 1820, and a
whole bunch of stuff since then. Archival material before around 1815 is
difficult, but AGAD at least knows where most of this information is at
present.- please remember what was happening in that part of the world at
that time. I shall be there again in late-May.
The fact that archival material IS available is in itself a miracle - again
taking into account the various wars, occupations, etc. in the area. My
English friends who are researching their family histories have nothing like
the information we have available to us! As I have not had to do any
research into the northern Kresy, I am not aware of the state of the
archives from those areas. However, one thing that is consistent throughout
the ages I have been researching (together with my father) - back to 1601
in one case - is that we have had to deal with totalitarian regimes, whether
bad, or benign. Whether Russian, Austrian, Soviet, Prussian or German,
totalitarian regimes have one very useful facet for us, and that is that
they love to keep as much information about their 'loyal' subjects as
possible, and hold enormous archives, very carefully (still!), on them. The
end result is, that once you do gain access to those archives, there is a
mass of information available to you - as long as you can read
There is, of course, much to argue about location. Should these archives,
relating to 'Polish' lands, be relocated to Warsaw, or should they remain
where they are? After all, they refer to lands, which in this case happen
to currently be in Ukraine. So, being devil's advocate, surely they should
remain there? Whether or not it is easier for us to gain access? Or
whether or not they are capable of keeping them in the state to which we are
accustomed 'in the West'. Actually, in my experience, they keep their
records far better than we do! Please do not automatically assume that we
do everything better in 'the West'.
As regards the idea of transferring the relevant archives, I feel that there
are a number of purely practical points to be considered. Firstly, as I
mentioned above, is the question of geography. Secondly, do we want the
records to be transferred, or simply copied? No-one has the authority to
demand to take such records from another sovereign state, especially as they
refer to subjects historically of, not necessarily the current State, but
certainly of an area of the current State. And thirdly, the bottom line,
who would pay? As an additional thought, transporting potentially very
fragile documents could actually do them more harm than good.
The AGAD is in the process of transferring (copying to microfiche/computer
archives) as much data as they can from Lwow and Kiev, but they too, just as
most government organisations around the world, have limited funding, and
certainly not enough personnel - after all, there are other more
important/deserving departments such as health and education. (BTW I have
no truck with the current Polish government.) The AGAD is doing what it
can. If you doubt this, then please pay them a visit - the doors are open
normal working hours, and they ARE very friendly and accommodating!.
I too have tried to contact Ukrainian Archives, and have met with very
little response. And the only response I did get, was that they of course wo
uld do the research, if paid. This, in my experience, is completely normal
practice, as most Archives do charge for their personnel to do this sort of
work. My contact through whom I have had much success in tracing my
ancestors, a priest in SE Poland, has given me the benefit of his
experiences, and told me the best ways of getting information out of there.
Some of the best info was gathered by a group of his parishioners over the
border, who, for a small donation (to church funds), rummaged through the
archives in Lwow. It of course helps if you are at least conversant in
Polish, and helps enormously if you speak Russian or Ukrainian (sic). As
with all archives, the best way to search is to do-it-yourself. For
example, a friend of my father's found an enormous amount of information
about members of our family, in the Kriegs- and Staats-Archiv in Vienna -
but only by doing the donkey-work himself - it helps if you are local,
conversant in the language, and retired!
BTW my father was born in 1916 in Krakow. Does this mean he was born in
Poland? NO! He was born in Austria! But a prouder Pole would be hard to
find - and a hero too (VM, KW, etc.)! The fact that Krakow always was, is
and will be the beating heart of Poland is irrelevant! As regards Paul's
ancestor - I cannot recall at the moment who it was he was talking about,
but if it was the chap born in 1915, then we could have a problem - which
town/village was he born? At the time, Poland of course, did not exist, so
it had to be either Russia, Austria, or Prussia/Gernany. If it happened to
be in the Russian sector, then as there was a war going on there, followed
by the Revolution, then records tended to be a bit scant and/or re-written,
so it IS possible that he could be registered as Soviet/Russian. If it was
inter-war, then if he was born in a 'marginal' area, then much depended upon
the local sympathies. Sometimes things are not quite so clear cut as they
are for us in the' islands' of the UK and US.
Another problem when going through this data is, that just like a lot of the
staff at Ellis Island, many of the priests and local bureaucrats were only
semi-literate, or certainly 'not-too-bright' - no disrespect meant. I have
several instances of surnames and Christian names being spelt in many
different ways in even the same parish records - one way at birth, a
different way at marriage, and yet another way, at death. Also, longhand,
handwritten records are not the easiest to decipher - I have even had to
find an expert in handwritten German Gothic script (an almost impossible
task to find such a person, but he does exist!) to decipher some of the
May I respectfully suggest that anyone who wishes to help the Archives in
whatever way possible, actually go and visit them, and talk to the people
there. Then they will perhaps understand the situation. Armchair
flag-waving from a distance is all very well, but going out and DOING is the
And Poland is not THAT far away?! Perhaps a holiday in 'the Old Country'
beckons? (I shall be there at least 3 more times this year! - it IS a
From: Eve5J@... [mailto:Eve5J@...]
Sent: Saturday, April 20, 2002 11:23 PM
Subject: [Kresy-Siberia] Proposed Petition: Kresy Records Belong in Poland,
My apologies to the list -
I am reposting my voluminous post of earlier today because the
subject of the post was incorrect. The gist of the post is that all
records and documents from our Kresy lands, prior to its
officially becoming a territory of the USSR, belonged to Poland
and should be returned there immediately.
Does the list agree?
Sorry about the length and feeling it necessary to repost.
I have copied it below.
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002 16:22:38 +1000
From: Stefan Wisniowski <swisniowski@...>
Subject: Re: Proposed Petition: Kresy Records Belong in Poland, Not Ukraine.
Yours is obviously the voice of experienced researching speaking! I have
quoted a few of your key points from your thoughtful message. As you say,
most of us would love to spend (more) time in Poland, but sadly it is not
possible for all of us.
Now, to focus this discussion (which is a fascinating one) on Eve's point.
I think that the main issue Eve raises is that civil records (births,
deaths, marriages, property, army, courts) pertaining to the Polish
government administration of the 2nd Polish Republic (1919-1945) should be
able to be accessed by Polish citizens and their descendants, and that it is
proper for this right or privilege to be secured by the present Polish
government in Warsaw. This would not be the Archiwum Glówny Akt Dawnych
(ul. Dluga 6, Warszawa), which concerns itself with records over 100 years
old. It would be the Archiwum Akt Zabuzanskich at the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego
- Warszawa Srodmiescie (ul. Jezuicka 1/3, Warszawa) which has records
salvaged from the "trans-Bug River" lands, referring to Poland's former
You may also have a good point that moving physical records can pose
problems - and perhaps it is possible that the Ukrainian archives are
state-of-the-art, or at least better than the Polish ones - that is a matter
for the Polish and Ukrainian archives to sort out between themselves. But
at the least, the Polish government documents should be salvaged and copies
made and secured at the Polish Archives in Warszawa. If this means funding,
then perhaps it is time to look for some prosperous former Kresowians and
appeal to their good hearts...
Incidentally, the interesting issues you raised about other governments and
other times are different topics, really. The Imperial records of Czarist
Russia, Prussia, and Austria are not the ones in question here, nor are
records from "marginal areas" in wartime. It is understandable how an
imperial archive would retain its own records (I imagine this is the case in
Britain's Imperial records as well).
Finally, Paul's issues about his relatives are different as well, and would
seem to have nothing to do with physical archives, but rather with
historical and geographic accuracy of Polish government records that were
altered during the PRL communist era. I think you would agree with his
point that records should reflect the reality of the time an event occurred
(especially in this part of the world where political realities change every
few years). Paul's Grandfather was born in 1911 in Kopyczynce, Podole, at
the time under the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, and he simply wants that
corrected in Polish government records as "Galicja or Austria" and not the
USSR (where Kopyczynce was for a few years later on). Similarly, his mother
was born in Biala, Poland in 1933 (nothing imperial or marginal there) but
current Polish government records show Biala, USSR - where it also was for a
So to move forward, if Eve and Paul still want to, I would support a request
to the Polish Archives (AAZ) to continue their efforts to secure these
inter-war records, asking them what they do and do not have, and also asking
them how we can help support their efforts. As Piotr (and Paul and others)
are in Poland there quite often, perhaps they can do us the service
investigate the Archiwum Akt Zabuzanskich and these inter-war records for
us, and let us know what they have, don't have, and what they need for
Family from Brody, Tarnopol province, Poland RP II.
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