Why Polish Belarusians rejoiced in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and wanted to return to the USSR
In the environment of Belarusian nationalists made negative comments about the Soviet period in the history of the country. They warmly remember the time between the revolution and the Second world war, when Poland was occupied all the Western region of the country. But the inhabitants of those regions to the poles experienced a completely different feeling. While in the neighboring Byelorussian SSR Soviet power was engaged in the construction of the state and nurtured the national intelligentsia in Poland Belarusians were turned into second-class citizens. About what methods were Polonization of the Belarusian minority — in the material “Tape.ru”.
“The only civilized power”
Immediately after gaining independence from Russian Empire in 1918, the Polish government set out to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the borders of 1772, when part of it was the Western and Central regions of Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. The plan began to implement in February 1919, when the Western region of the former Russian Empire left the German divisions. Serious resistance, the poles are not met and for a year occupied the whole territory of the Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR and the right-Bank Ukraine.
The poles initially considered themselves as “the dominant civilizational and the only force” capable, in the words of Roman Dmowski, “the political organization of this territory.” The usual life of people in the reunified territories have changed, but loyalty to the new government, the local population did not show.
The “peasant element is adamant on the point of a negative attitude to Poland, and Lithuania, recognizing only itself, the Russian and wanting to see yourself as part of a single, indivisible Russia, wrote in December 1919, the historian Alexander Bahanovich, amounting to Kolchak and Denikin report on the state of Affairs in the national outskirts of the former Empire. — Forcibly introduced into schools the Belarusian language, or so-called “MOV”, farmers do not want to hear, and many villages were taken from their children’s school because the teaching is introduced in the Belarusian dialect”.
Also in his report tells that the poles ruthlessly eradicate anything that may have the slightest hint of Russian, and the gendarmes and mercenaries arrest and beat up on anyone, even the most insignificant matter. “Are all sorts of “Belarusian uchrezdeniya” of Catholics and poles in General, who by the mouth of his henchmen fabricate “the Belarusian Declaration” about the desire of the population of the region to join Poland,” writes Bahanovich.
Peace of Riga, ending the Polish-Soviet war divided Belarus and Ukraine, obliges the Polish government to respect the rights and freedoms of the Ruthenian population. However, compliance with this obligation, no one to watch not going to, so no opportunity to “cultivate their native language, organize and maintain their own schools, to develop their culture and establish for that purpose, companies and unions” residents “Crecy Vskhodnih” (in Poland called the territory of Western Ukraine and Belarus) are not provided.
Instead, it started hard Polonization of the population. “Belarus history itself is designed to be a bridge for Polish expansion to the East. Belarusian ethnographic mass needs to be converted into Polish people. This is the verdict of history, and we need to promote it”, — stated in the 1922 Polish politician Alexander Meysztowicz.
Such sentiments were widespread among the Polish elite. “The role of Poland and poles is to promote the East the light of European civilization,” — said in 1923 the mayor of Grodno Stanislav Voitsekhovsky.
Questions of faith
In 1921 the government of the Belarusian national Republic (BNR) in exile released a statement which said that all the Belarusians in the Polish Delnice threatens national death. And it wasn’t just a rant. Assimilation has affected both the Orthodox and Catholic population of West Belarus. Moreover, the Polish authorities have deliberately driven a wedge between these groups is the division of the population by religious affiliation was listed as the first item on the program of Polonization.
Catholics planned “to surround with the atmosphere of Polish culture” and constantly emphasize their religious affinity with the new authorities. In the Orthodox environment was supposed to destroy Russophile sentiments and lead to loyalty Poland through advanced Belarusization.
The Catholic population was perceived as being closer, and Orthodox Belarusians wanted first of all to tear from the womb of Russian culture, among them supporting nationalist sentiments. Their Polonization was to go slowly. All-Russian consciousness of the Belarusians, which was very common among the people, was perceived official Warsaw as the main threat to the integrity of the Polish state.
“Conscious Belarusian element follows the Pro-Russian orientation. In the first row are here longtime Russian sympathy, instead, we should develop sympathy for Poland, wrote to the Governor of the region of Bialystok Henry Ostaszewski. — To put it briefly, our attitude to the Belarusians can be defined as follows: we wish one and persistently demand that this minority thought in Polish. At present Belarusians can still be assimilated into a single channel of Polish culture”.
However, a majority of the then Polish researchers and commentators have noted the danger of radicalization of the Belarusian national movement and talked about the fact that the nation-building process of the Belarusians should be maintained and monitored. But max, who was ready to give them Warsaw, is the role of “younger brothers” in the public draft of the new Commonwealth. People from Western Belarus were trying to prevent not only public office, but in the system of local government.
This is explained by the fact that among the Belarusians were strongly spread Communist ideas. “The attitude of the Belarusians on the part of many chiefs and part of the society is very dismissive. We believe the Muscovites, then the Bolsheviks, then all second-class citizens,” wrote Vilnya “Belarusian news” on October 10, 1921.
The word is the sword
If the first Rzeczpospolita pacified Ukrainians and Belarusians “with fire and sword”, the second decided to act “soft power” and turn them into ideologically dysfunctional labor. Poles began with the closure of Russian schools. Left to the choice of the Belarusian (which is also closed before the Second world war) and Polish. At the same time officials of the Ministry of education followed closely the language of instruction.
But in Belarusian schools were reluctant, not only students, but teachers — they had to drive to work in these institutions. Polish power spread through the loyal Belarusian organizations of the proclamation, which said that refusal to be a Belarusian teacher will not benefit the Belarusian people, so as to open in the villages of the Russian school in the current conditions it is impossible.
In addition, children of non-Polish origin were problems with obtaining further education. The authorities just said that for the peasant working in the field, which had to deal with Ukrainians and Belarusians, inclusive education is not necessary. It is not surprising that many residents of the Belarusian regions wanted to flee to the Soviet Union just for the opportunity to obtain an education and to be not only peasant labor. As of 1931, 43 percent of residents of the Belarusian provinces more than ten years old were illiterate.
“Beaten for the slightest provintia”
Together with the Russian schools came under attack and the Russian press. And began poles with white emigre publications which were distributed throughout Europe. The first banned the “Russian people’s newspaper”, published in Czechoslovakia, and the Berlin “chronicle of Eurasian”. Then took over the local newspaper.
The greatest response was accompanied by the closure of the newspaper “Under the sky of the woodlands” in 1931. She was accused of “Pro-Russian” because of the article about the population of Pinsk, where it was argued that 30 of 470 residents 19597 are Jews, 249 7 — poles, and others — Russian, which the newspaper attributed the “Belorussians, Ukrainians and the great Russians”. Also, the newspaper called during the census to designate as the native Russian language.
In 1932, the poles were forbidden to publish the newspaper “Pinsky voice.” The Polish authorities accused her publisher Bereznitsky in Russification activities. “Taking into account the danger of Russification among irresponsible promotions in the national against the local population, I banned Bereznivskomu edition of the Russian newspaper in Pinsk,” — wrote in his report to Warsaw by the head of the province Kostek-Biernacki.
Persecution of Pro-Russian activists did not end by restricting freedom of speech. In 1934, in the town of Bereza-Kartuzskaya was created a concentration camp for political prisoners. Over the five years of its existence it passed through more than ten thousand people, mostly Communists and leaders of the Ukrainian and Belarusian national movements.
“Beaten for the slightest Providenie and disobedience, and his own warden, recalled one of the Russian activists. — Guys are forced to sign declarations that do not belong and will not belong to the IPPC [Communist party of Western Belarus], which are poles, not Belarusians. For disobedience pouring water through the nose, put in solitary confinement, filled to half with water.”
It is not surprising that in 1939 the population of Western Belarus joyfully greeted the Soviet troops, when the Western region of modern Belarus became part of the Soviet Union by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. “For the sake of my children I leave the city where he was born and lived 82 years, unless here again will be hosting the poles, they described their feelings, a local resident Anton Antipovich. Only in 1939 did I hear the word “citizen”, and before that I was only a “Katsap”. I’ve experienced from the poles and now I don’t want my children spoke Polish. Belarusians and poles, never peacefully lived and will not live. Let Poland be a hundred times free and democratic, the Belarusians it will be run in Russia.”
The population of Belarusian regions did perceive the arrival of the red army and Soviet rule as a deliverance and liberation. “To the Soviet government when the poles were really bad — was told in 1939, the Soviet journalist, a farmer from the village Strike. — They to us, Belarusians, treated condescendingly. Poles Russian people have always helped, and here they are, we are, perhaps, a trait to help. If there will be power poles, then we will have to flee to Russia — to her.”
People then have not delved into the political sensitivities and the thought that went back home to Russia. But soon instead of polarizators policy Warsaw they had to face the Belarusization in the Byelorussian SSR.
The fate of the population of East and West Belorussia was very different. If the Soviet Union, with all the totalitarianism of its political system, they create essentially a national state of “turnkey”, the situation in Poland was the opposite: the Belarusian population was perceived exclusively in the context of the policy of assimilation and the destruction of relationships with Russian culture.
Today Belarusian nationalists appreciate the Soviet period strictly negative, and the poles are treated with great reverence, reminding us of the times “the Commonwealth of four Nations.” However, recently this attitude is eroding. Recently, the Belarusian nationalists promised the head of the Polish Association of Belarus to arrange after coming to power “the second Volyn”.
The population of the Western regions of Belarus, until the end resisted Polonization and wishing to retain their connection with Russian culture, again facing pressure. Now it’s coming from the authorities of the Belarusian state, began a policy of forced Belarusization. And it can be much more successful than attempts to impose Warsaw Polish identity in the twenties of the last century.
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