Memories from Polesie

It was to these new eastern provinces that many Polish soldiers and their families moved as farmer settlers in the following decade. These soldiers were granted small plots of land as a reward for their patriotism, and to help re-establish Polish claims to the area. This young woman was one of them.

I was very young  when I married a returned soldier. He fought in the war against the Bolshevik Russia in 1920 and then we moved to Polesie, in the eastern part of Poland, to one of the soldier settlements. Our settlement consisted of a variety of people, there were officers, junior officers non commisioned officers and of course the ordinary soldiers, so our lives became rich culturally. I liked the local people as well. Some of them were very poor but they were decent. The Byelorussian women did not want to belong to our associations but relations between us were good.

 I was godmother to some Byelorussian children and we would visit each other's houses. Even on Christmas Eve, which is a special time when Polish families get together to break a wafer, we would get together. Later when I was being deported one of them brought me a big loaf of bread. That was a great help to me. At first, we had to live in temporary accommodation which we built. When you start a farm, the out-buildings are more important than the house itself because you have to have storage for grains and for the animals in winter. Then the the children started to be born so it was pretty hard but we were all young.

Eventually we built quite a big house because we had help from my husband's father, who was also a farmer. It was a close community and very busy as we built our social life and organised different associations. We had a theatrical group that was well known in the area, and I was also a member of the Country Women's Association which organised sewing, baking, cooking and gardening courses for the Polish women. Many of the courses were held at our house because we were near the main road.