Polish Tatars

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Davey Boy
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Polish Tatars

Post by Davey Boy » 05 May 2002 13:29

Does anyone know what the Nazi policy was towards these people? I've managed to find a few paragraphs about how they were persecuted by the Germans during the occupation of Lithuania and Belorussia (that's where they lived). But I have no details.

In appearance, these people are a lot like Turks or Armenians, although a few do look very northern European. But then again, the Nazis let the Kalmucks from near the Volga join the SS, and these guys are pure Mongol in appearance. So obviously, if the Tatars were persecuted, it wasn't really on racial grounds. And it had nothing to do with religion, because Polish Tatars are Muslim, and there were Muslim SS units in the Balkans.

I do seem to remember that there was a Tatar unit in the Polish army, and they fought hard against the Germans in '39. Maybe that was the reason?

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 05 May 2002 13:37

Please don't add a signature to your posts.

/Marcus

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Post by Davey Boy » 05 May 2002 14:04

Why not?

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Post by Marcus » 05 May 2002 14:06

I removed the automatic signatures because I don't want any signatures in my forum.

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Post by Davey Boy » 05 May 2002 14:22

During the Second World War, most of the Tatar intelligentsia was exterminated by the Nazis in retaliation for the gallant fight of the Tatar detachment against the invading German armies in September 1939. After the war, only two Tatar villages (Bohoniki and Kruszyniany) remained within the borders of Poland. Some Tatars from these former Polish territories were resettled in present western and northwestern Poland. This of course meant that a vital part of their religious and cultural heritage, including mosques, cemeteries, and schools, was left behind.
This is all I found in regards to the topic at hand.

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Kurtsuljo
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Re: Polish Tatars

Post by Kurtsuljo » 29 Dec 2022 16:53

In case your still wondering Mufti Jakub Szynkiewicz a ** a polish Tatar** served as mufti fuer die besetzten Ostgebiete during WW2. He left in 1944 and refused to go back to communist Poland. He died in Waterbury, Connecticut, on 1 November 1966.
Last edited by Kurtsuljo on 30 Dec 2022 02:28, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Polish Tatars

Post by gebhk » 29 Dec 2022 19:38

I do seem to remember that there was a Tatar unit in the Polish army, and they fought hard against the Germans in '39. Maybe that was the reason?
There certainly was. It was the 1st squadron of the 13th Lancer Regiment (13 Pulk Ulanow Wilenskich) which had the honorofic 'Szwadron Ulanow Tatarskich' (Tatar Lancer Squadron). As part of the 13th Lancer Regiment, it fought around Piotrkow 2-5 September, suffered greviously during the subsequent retreat, particulalrly while crossing the Vistula near Maciejowice where the squadron carried out (allegedly) a mounted cavalry charge and was eventually scattered during the fighting around Suchowola on 24th September.

On balance, I suspect that while the squadron fought well it was not outstanding and the miniscule size of the unit in the scale of the conflict (a cavalry squadron with all its bells and whistles numbered 112 men) means it is unlikely that, aside from something really newsworthy, its contribution would have been noticed enough to influence state policy. That 'newsworthy' element could have been the quite likely apocryphal story that during or following the Maciejowice charge, carried away by historical tradition, the ulans set about hacking off the ears of the enemy fallen. However, there is little or no evidence that this event, even if it did happen, was ever noticed by the German establishment.

It is also worth bearing in mind that virtually all if not all the land settled by Polish Tatars was occupied by the Soviets in 1939 and not the Germans. Now the Soviets certainly would have had a beef with Polish Tatars. The Tatar Horse Regiment and its remnants absorbed into the 13 Lancer Regiment earned a savage reputation in the Polish-Soviet war 1919-1921. In general the Polish Tatar community proved unyielding in its opposition to Soviet Communism and stalwart in its support for Pilsudski throughout the interbellum, none of which would have endeared them to Stalin. In any event, being a member of the intelligentsia was quite sufficient to slate you for extermination by both occupiers, it's just that the Soviets had a head start and so, I would suggest, there was probably not much intelligentsia left for the Germans to exterminate by the time they got to there in 1941.

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wm
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Re: Polish Tatars

Post by wm » 30 Dec 2022 00:01

The Polish Tatars fought in eastern parts of Poland and were taken prisoner by the Soviets.
They murdered some of them (including at Katyń); many deported, although later many of them were able to join Ander's Army and save themselves.
"Tatar intelligentsia was exterminated by the Nazis" is straight from communist propaganda.

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Re: Polish Tatars

Post by gebhk » 30 Dec 2022 16:46

It is probably worth bearing in mind that we are talking about a fairly small minority which, if memory serves, consisted of about 6K souls in 1939. I would disagree that Polish Tatars in the armed forces fought exclusively in the Eastern parts of Poland. Certainly not the case of the Tatar Squadron, which fought, as I mentioned earlier, in Western Poland and its remanants were taken prisoner by the Germans. While it is the case that often POWs hailing from Eastern Poland taken prisoner by the Germans were handed over to the Soviets and vice versa, however I have found no evidence that this happened to the officers of the Tatar Squadron. For example, rtm Jeljaszewicz, CO of the squadron, spent the rest of the war in a German Oflag (according to Wiki and other internet sources which seem to be repeating the same info). On the other hand, the last survivor of the squadron, Stefan Mustafa Abramowicz, who died in 2018 aged 103, remained in the unit's base in Nowa Wilejka and was swept up by the Soviets whilst trying to reach the Lithuanian border with the rest of the unit base team. He was saved from likely death by the Sikorski-Maiski agreement, ended up in the 2nd Corps and fought through the Italian campaign as a tanker. After the war, his home village gone, he settled in the UK. In short, Polish Tatars were spread all over the armed forces and as likely to be fighting in Western as Eastern Poland; as a result their subsequent histories were as varied as those of their non-Tatar colleagues.

Some did indeed end up in the 2nd Polish Corps (though not necessarily via the Soviet Union) and the Polish Forces in the UK. Some stayed abroad while others, like Jeljaszewicz, returned to Poland albeit few were able to return to their homes which were now in the Soviet Union. As a personal aside one of our closest family friends and neighbours in London was a Polish Tatar and her mother - her husband was Wieslaw Lasocki, the author of, inter alia, the book about Wojtek, the brown bear mascot of the 22 Artillery Supply Company.

Totally agree with WMs last sentence.

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Re: Polish Tatars

Post by wm » 02 Jan 2023 22:57

According to this source, the Tatar Squadron was Tatar in name only.
It looks like the Tatars were in minority there.

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Re: Polish Tatars

Post by gebhk » 03 Jan 2023 14:29

Hi WM

Impossible to say without an actual breakdown of the squadron after mobilisation. Clearly Tatars were a minority during peacetime - I believe one officer recalls only the first platoon was Tatar. However, wartime composition, when the reservists are called up, is another kettle of fish. Despite only existing around 3.5 years before the war broke out, over 60 Tatar conscripts were trained or being trained. In addition, Tatars were trained in other cavalry units both before and after the creation of the Tatar Squadron and could have been called up to serve in the 1st Tatar Squadron on mobilisation. Given that a cavalry squadron numbered 116 oficers and men, a Tatar majority in the wartime lineup was well within the realms of possibility. However, of course, what that lineup was in the end exactly, we (or at least I) do not know.

However, I would suggest that having a Tatar commanding oficer, a Tatar unit 'banner' and insignia, an Imam (a squadron-sized unit having its own 'padre' was unique in the Polish Armed Forces then, I think) and the overwhelming support of the Polish Tatar community as well as a dedication to maintaining Tatar culture (library, cultural centre) and religious observance made it more than 'in name only'. The army having a Muslim squadron was of considerable propaganda value to Poland, which was wooing good relations with various Muslim countries at the time. It is not without significance that one of the bodies that in 1937 petitioned the Ministry of Defence to appoint, uniquely, a clergyman for one squadron was the Foreign Ministry.

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