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Kresy

From Academic Kids

The name Kresy (Polish for "borderlands") (or more correctly Kresy Wschodnie, Eastern Borderlands) is used by Poles to refer to the eastern part of Poland before the II World War. These territories bordered the Soviet Union on the east, Lithuania on the north, and Romania on the south.

Kresy approximately correspond to the territory to the East of the Curzon line.

During 19211939 (Second Polish Republic), Kresy comprised of the following voivodships (from North to South and then to the West, see the 1939 map in the Voivodships of Poland article).

The territory of Kresy constituted over 40% of Polish territory during the Second Republic.

The majority of urban population was Polish; but the overall majority was non-Polish: Ukrainian, Belarusian, Lithuanian and Jewish. Polish inhabitants of this region, known in Polish as Kresowiacy, constituted approximately 40% of the population and had their distinct culture with accent and customs influenced by the presence of ethnic minorities.

As a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, on September 17, 1939 the Soviet Union occupied Kresy and Białystok Voivodship, and a significant part of the Polish population was deported to the Soviet Union.

After the German invasion, a significant part of the Kresy population was transferred to Germany as workforce (Ostarbeiter, "Eastern workers"). By the end of the WWII they were placed in camps for displaced persons in the post-war Germany. Soviet representatives attempted to filter out persons of Belarusian and Ukrainian nationality from camps located in the Western occupation zones, in order to transfer them to the Soviet Union. Many of those from Kresy who already have had an experience of Soviet life sought to avoid this kind of "repatriation". In particular, some camps that hosted Belarusians used terms White Ruthenians and Krivichs in their documentation.

After the Second World War the Kresy territory was officially ceded to the Soviet Union (Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Lithuanian Socialist Soviet Republics) and most of the Polish population was transferred to Poland's Recovered Territories.

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