On the Daugava River

 
 

Border: Poland – the USSR
At present: Belarus

 

Mrs. Janina, who lives in the small village of Leonpol on the Daugava River in today’s Belarus, says that before the war: “After dark it was noisy and cheerful. On the other side of the river, at the Soviets’, there was always such a ghastly silence, even the roosters did not crow and the darkness was as black as ink. As if merely nothingness had remained and consumed all people. And finally, this nothingness crossed the river to Leonpol and consumed us too.”
In the times of the Second Polish Republic, those were the final borderlands. There stretched a semicircular Polish headland, guarded by soldiers of the Border Protection Corps (KOP), where the borders of Poland, the USSR and Latvia met. This region stretching to the north along the contemporary Belarusian and Russian border is Latgale, also known as the Polish Livonia. It is here that we find the second largest Latvian city of Daugavpils. Today, Latgale is inhabited by the overwhelming majority of over thirty-eight thousand Poles living in Latvia
The town of Daugava, which was considered the easternmost city of Poland in the Second Polish Republic, was located on the former Polish, and today Belarusian, bank of the Daugava River. In the city center there is also the White House, which is what the local KOP watchtower was called due to the color of its walls  
The nearby town of Miory lies on the edge of the Braslav Lakeland, dotted with picturesque lakes, in northern Belarus. Here is where, a dozen or so years ago, Witold Jermalonak found almost two hundred archival photographs of a certain KOP lieutenant hidden in the wall of a local hotel. Back then, all he knew about him was that his name was Edward and he was loved by many beautiful women perpetuated by pictures. It was not until 2020 that he discovered that the mysterious lieutenant was Edward Nabożny, arrested by the Soviets in early 1941 and sentenced as an “enemy of the people” for attempting to overthrow the Soviet Union. He was saved from death penalty or many years of exile to labor camps, by the Sikorski-Majski amnesty, thanks to which he joined the Anders Army, and finally he reached Chicago, where he died in the early 1980s. “I shall give it to you, because you wanted me to, and I wanted it too”, the smiling Halina wrote to Lieutenant Edward on August 10, 1939. On September 17, 1939, the eastern border of the Second Polish Republic will disappear, and her world, the world of Edek, and that of all the inhabitants of Central Europe will end irrevocably.

 

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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