Border: Poland – the USSR
At present: Belarus
The tale of the troublemaker, spy and smuggler Sergiusz Piasecki, “Lover of the Great Bear”, long forgotten in Poland, about the life of contrabandists on the Polish-Soviet border in Raków near Minsk, is experiencing a renaissance in Belarus, and becoming an inspiration for the pro-Belarusian and anti-Lukashenka counterculture. The guitarist of the cult punk rock band NRM Pit Pawlaw is currently recording a rock album “Weapons, gold, women” inspired by “Lover....” and is writing the script of a fictional film about life in the real “Wild East”. On the other hand, his fellow artist Feliks Januszkiewicz is running a private alternative art gallery-museum in Raków devoted to Piasecki, and taking the newcomers on a truly magical ride through the times and life of a contrabandist.
That said, the Belarusian border has brought into the world not only adventurers, but also heroes and felons. At the end of the 19th century, in a manor house in the Naliboki Forest, several brothers were born in the Polish Dzerzhinsky family of petty nobles. During World War II, Kazimierz and his wife Luccie collaborated with the Home Army and, in retaliation, the Germans burned down the entire estate in Dzerzhin, and shot the couple. Władysław was the chief physician of the Norbert Barlicki Memorial Teaching Hospital in Łódź, an outstanding neurologist and colonel of the Polish Army. In 1942, he was lost during the largest public execution in the Warta district of the Reich. Feliks, who died in 1926, did not live to see all these events. Then again, it was he who, as the creator of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Speculation, and Sabotage (Cheka) - and one of the greatest criminals in history - was to write down the Dzerzhinsky name on the pages of history. In 2004, on the orders of President Alexander Lukashenka, the Dzerzhinsky court was rebuilt, creating a museum-sanctuary of Bloody Felix, where new KGB officers take the oath every year.
The soldiers of the Border Protection Corps, who guarded the border against contrabandists and the Soviets, left behind a multi-story concrete tower of the Ludwikowo KOP battalion command hidden in the forest.
“Polish officers would come to the village in their cars and tell the girls to jump in, that they would take us for a ride,” Olga Sawena from the nearby village of Budcza laughs at her memories.
It was where the action of Sergiusz Piasecki’s book “The Lover of the Great Bear” took place.
This is where the commander of the Polish Border Protection Corps “Szapało” watchtower was probably murdered in September 1939.
Currently, a museum in honor of Felix Dzerzhinsky
An oasis of freedom in the Lukashenka regime.
There were barracks, officers’ houses, stables, farm buildings, and even a power plant for several hundred soldier.
This is all that has survived from a self-sufficient military town on the outskirts of the Second Polish Republic.
“Polish officers would come to the village in their cars and tell the girls to jump in, that they would take us for a ride."
It upset people. We felt inferior to the Poles, so when the Soviets entered, we welcomed them like liberators. We were very surprised to see what this Soviet equality looked like.
President of the local chapter of Union of Poles in Belarus, Elżbieta Gołosunowa.
Her mother, Teresa Dołęga-Wrzosek, was posthumously awarded a medal and the title of Righteous Among the Nations for saving a Jewish boy.
In the church garden in the town of Mir.