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.

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A public task co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland in the "Public Diplomacy 2020 – a new dimension" competition

 

The publication merely expresses the views of the author(s) and cannot be equated with the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland

© 2020 by Kaja Grzywaczewska | Tomasz Grzywaczewski |  Martyna Wróblewska