(...) the most important thing in this photographic journey is not stone pillars, but living people.
"Lost borders: In the footsteps of the Second Polish Republic"
On November 11, 1918, after 123 years of partitions, Poles regained their freedom and established an independent Second Republic, whose name referred to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which existed until the end of the 18th century.
A country situated on the “border” of the West and the East was established in the territories belonging to contemporary Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. A country of many years, which was home to the nations of Central Europe who lived there side by side, and which ended with the outbreak of World War II.
In Dębki, at the mouth of the Piaśnica 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. Nearby, hidden among forest dunes are the decaying foundations of the former Border Guard watchtower. This is the symbolic number one. It’s where it all started. 5529 kilometers of the border biting into Central Europe, separating the Second Polish Republic from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary (for several months), Romania, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Latvia and Lithuania. A line crossing the Kashubian forests, Greater Poland lowlands, Silesian mines, Carpathian peaks, Volhynia gorges, Polesie swamps, Lithuanian lake districts and Masurian primeval forests on the map. Carefully erased by the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, German and Soviet aggression, the Yalta Conference.
That said, the most important thing in this photographic journey is not stone pillars, but living people. This story is about them – the borderland inhabitants, who formed the multinational mosaic of the Second Polish Republic. Adventurers, smugglers, writers, artists, explorers and dreamers. But most of all, it’s about ordinary people who, despite the atrocities of the 20th century, were trying to survive on the erased border.
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