Eastern Borderlands (1918-1939)

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Polish Families of the Eastern Borderlands

Polish Families of the Eastern Borderlands who inhabited this area for generations, noble families and others

When Poland gained independence, the Eastern Borderlands were home to Polish peoples who had lived there for generations. They formed part of the peoples that inhabited this area. Immigrants also formed part of the population here – as in the case of settlers (both military and civilian) – as well as other ethnic groups that had also lived here from generation to generation. Among the long-time Polish families here one could find both peasants and landowners. The socio-economic category of landowner was, for the most part, comprised of nobles.

According to records from 1931, 4695 landowners within the north-eastern territory of the Borderlands owned properties that were greater than 50 hectares. At the same time, 2712 landowners within the south-eastern territory of the Borderlands owned properties that were greater than 50 hectares. Altogether, in the Eastern Borderlands of the Second Polish Republic of 1939, there lived 33,332 representative landowners. Taking all the provinces of these borderlands into account, large landholdings made up less than .5% of the total number of landholdings. Landowners made up less than .25% of the population of each province, and these were, for the most part, of Polish origin. During the Second Republic, landowners were faced with the challenge of land reforms. Some estates were forced to live on credit, and their situation worsened the effects of the economic crisis of the end of the 1920s.

Personal Testimony:
We lived in the Eastern Borderlands (in Przyłbice), which is linked with a very happy childhood and represents paradise forever lost. The family home emanated warmth, even though it was a large estate. I remember the chapel on the estate, where we prayed before the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. In this chapel, mass was celebrated in both the Latin and Greek-Catholic rites. My mother celebrated the May devotions, as well as those in June, and the October rosary celebration. All members of the household staff as well as the workers on the estate, would gather for these celebrations.

At mealtime we sat at a table large enough to seat 12, surrounded by portraits of our ancestors, as well as bishops and metropolitans that were related to our family. We all gathered at the table, along with our teachers and guests, who were always sincerely welcomed. I also remember the vast parkland, nurtured by my grandmother, and then my mother, overflowing with ornamental trees, shrubs, and imported flowers in flowerbeds that were personally designed by them. Walks in the garden, climbing trees, building tree houses – this was our paradise.

Elżbieta Weymanowa, née Szeptyckich

Source: Piotr Szymon Łoś, Szkice do portretu ziemian polskich XX wieku, Warszawa 2005