Kashubia

Border: Poland – Germany
At present: Poland

In the winter of 1920 in a remote Kashubian region Gochy, just after the Great War, there was an outbreak of a small Stake War. The origin of the conflict was the disappointment of the residents of village Borowy Młyn with the arrangements of the international commission defining the border. Briefly speaking, the local Kashubians wanted to be in Poland, but they ended up in Germany. They began to pull out the rods arranged by geodesists and moved the border, which in this case did not base upon any natural obstacles; it swirled mercilessly amongst dense forests and sandy fields.

In 1939, the war of aggression of the Third Reich with Poland obliterated the former border, and the Kashubians first fell victim of the German, and later in 1945 of the Soviet brutality. Men were taken away massively to Siberia and women were raped.

 “My father-in-law, Antoni Szreder, was a pre-war activist of the Union of Poles in Germany and one of the joint organizers of the march to Bytów,” says Anna Szreder. They wanted to have their stake war too. Sadly, their resistance yielded nothing, and the Nazis never pardoned them for it. After the outbreak of the war, Antoni was arrested and executed on the guillotine. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location. Germans are fond of order, so they sent the mother in law an elegant official certificate concerning the execution. She knew that she had to fear the Germans, and not the Russians, the liberators. But for the Soviets, everybody who lived in the Reich was a Nazi. When they crossed the border of the Second Polish Republic, they went from village to village and took the men from each family, one after another. When they took the son of my mother-in-law Zygmunt, my husband’s brother, she ran out to the soldiers, waving this “receipt” from Berlin. She explained to them that he was a native-born Pole, and that her husband and his father Antoni Szreder had devoted his life for the Polish Kashubia. Even so, the serviceman merely thrusted her away and didn’t even glance at the document. Zygmunt was deported to Siberia. He returned home only a couple of years later. Still, he was very fortunate to have lived.

After the war, in the vicinities of Bytów there arrived settlers from central Poland, Poles expelled from the eastern regions of the Second Polish Republic, and finally, Ukrainians deported in 1947 as part of Operation Vistula. Thus was born the Kashubian tower of Babel.

The legend of the Wild Hunt.
The legend of the Wild Hunt.

The legend of the demonic Wild Hunt for the souls of criminals is known today only by the oldest Kashubians.

Former Polish-German border.
Former Polish-German border.

In Debki, at the mouth of the Piasnica River to the Baltic Sea, there is a one-and-a-half-meter high granite pillar. Black letters arranged in two rows: “Versailles June 28, 1919”; “P” on one side and “D” on the other.

The escape of the Piaśnica River to the Baltic Sea. The beginning of the “erased border”.
The escape of the Piaśnica River to the Baltic Sea. The beginning of the “erased border”.
Ruins of the Border Guard watch room in Dębki.
Ruins of the Border Guard watch room in Dębki.
Zbigniew Talewski demonstrates how the border divided Kashubia.
Zbigniew Talewski demonstrates how the border divided Kashubia.
The village of Borowy Młyn, whose inhabitants started the “Stake War”.
The village of Borowy Młyn, whose inhabitants started the “Stake War”.
The “Stake War” Watchtower of Remembrance created by Zbigniew Talewski.
The “Stake War” Watchtower of Remembrance created by Zbigniew Talewski.
The “Stake War”.
The “Stake War”.

The white and red stakes and young lindens are reminiscent of the place where the Kashubs fought to push the border.

Kashubia
Kashubia
Janina Parzątka-Lipińska
Janina Parzątka-Lipińska

Before the war, Janina Parzywka-Lipińska’s father was an incognito participant at a meeting of the NSDAP, where he first heard about the plans for a war with Poland.

The original concrete stake from the border of the Second Polish Republic.
The original concrete stake from the border of the Second Polish Republic.
Jadwiga Dorawa mentions the smugglers who chased geese and pigs in boots across the border.
Jadwiga Dorawa mentions the smugglers who chased geese and pigs in boots across the border.
Anna Szreder talks about the Soviet repressions against Kashubians.
Anna Szreder talks about the Soviet repressions against Kashubians.
In 1930, Ugoszcz opened one of the few Polish schools in Germany.
In 1930, Ugoszcz opened one of the few Polish schools in Germany.
Urszula Landowska escaped from the Soviets to Germany as a child.
Urszula Landowska escaped from the Soviets to Germany as a child.
A letter flap in the former German customs house.
A letter flap in the former German customs house.

Today a residential house.

Rosemaria is one of the few German autochthons.
Rosemaria is one of the few German autochthons.
Rosemarie with children from her Polish-German marriage.
Rosemarie with children from her Polish-German marriage.

The languages spoken at home were Polish, German and Kashubian.

In Kashubia, no one had guessed their fate.
In Kashubia, no one had guessed their fate.
Ukrainians Genowefa and Józef Hryndzio.
Ukrainians Genowefa and Józef Hryndzio.

Deported to Kashubia in 1947 from south-eastern Poland as part of criminal Operation “Vistula” organized by the Polish communist authorities.

The Greek Catholic Church of Saint George in Bytow.
The Greek Catholic Church of Saint George in Bytow.

a former Evangelical church where Szymon Krofey, the author of the oldest preserved relics of the Kashubian language, preached in the 16th century.

Tabernacle preserved from the Greek Catholic church in Podkarpacie.
Tabernacle preserved from the Greek Catholic church in Podkarpacie.
Iconostasis
Iconostasis
Kashubian-Ukrainian wedding of Anna Jedernal and Orest Hrycyna.
Kashubian-Ukrainian wedding of Anna Jedernal and Orest Hrycyna.

On one side, Kashubian women in folk costumes, on the other side Ukrainians in scarlet embroidery. Fot. Jacek Waszkiewicz

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