Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rule?

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Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rule?

Post by Futurist » 03 Apr 2021 01:05

Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, Volhynian Germans, Volhynian Czechs, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rule--especially to the previous rule of both the Russian Tsars and the Russian Provisional Government? I am asking this question because I'm very sure that Kresy Poles preferred Polish rule to any kind of non-Polish rule, but what about Kresy non-Poles--especially outside of Galicia, which is a separate topic for debate considering that Galicia was never actually a part of either Russia or the Soviet Union until 1939.

I doubt that we actually have any polls in regards to this, but what about any anecdotal evidence in the forms of books, newspapers, other literature, et cetera? I know that a lot of my own Jewish family members got to experience Tsarist Russian, then Polish, and then Soviet rule due to the town of Sarny and its surroundings changing its sovereignty a couple of times in the early 20th century. Sadly, most of them perished in the Holocaust and thus could not share their views in regards to this with others for posterity. :(

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by wm » 03 Apr 2021 23:10

I suppose the Lithuanians and Belarusian/Ukrainian elites preferred their own rule, the Belarusian/Ukrainian masses didn't especially care (but preferred Russia because of the religion - or the communists). The Jews preferred Russia for the simple reason it was their second language.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Futurist » 03 Apr 2021 23:32

wm wrote:
03 Apr 2021 23:10
I suppose the Lithuanians and Belarusian/Ukrainian elites preferred their own rule, the Belarusian/Ukrainian masses didn't especially care (but preferred Russia because of the religion - or the communists). The Jews preferred Russia for the simple reason it was their second language.
Did the Lithuanian masses prefer their own rule as well?

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by wm » 04 Apr 2021 21:43

By the masses, I meant the East European uneducated, "medieval", couldn't-care-less peasants.
In Lithuania, they weren't that numerous so their preferences were of no importance.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Futurist » 05 Apr 2021 06:35

Their elites were even less numerous, no?

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Apr 2021 11:01

Hi Futurist,

Well, if Polish actions are anything to go by, they didn't want Polish rule.

Their conscripts were sent to divisions in the Polish west of the country to do their military service and the KOP border guard force in the east would only recruit Poles.

Clearly the Poles didn't much trust them.

The Jews were in a different situation and, without an Israel as an alternative, had to make the best of whatever was happening around them.

One thing mystifies me. Did the Belarusians have any significant national identity before the USSR created their SSR and then needed them to get an extra seat for the USSR at the UN in 1945? How much does their post-1990 state existence and national identity owe to the recent Soviet period?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by wm » 05 Apr 2021 15:38

Actually, the KOP's limits were:
Germans, Czechs - 15 percent,
Belarusians/Ukrainians - 3 percent,
Jews - 2 percent.

The main reason for the limits was the spread of communism among the Jewish/Belarusian/Ukrainian masses. Obviously, the Belarusians and especially the Ukrainians didn't consider Russia their homeland.
And we need to remember that:
The Border Protection Corps (Polish: Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza, KOP) was a Polish military formation that was created in 1924 to defend the country's eastern borders against armed Soviet incursions and local bandits.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Apr 2021 16:17

Hi wn.

Thanks for the greater precision: So 80% Polish and 3% local.

It still doesn't alter the basic point that the Poles clearly didn't trust them.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by wm » 05 Apr 2021 20:43

Additionally, farm laborers, landless peasants, (Polish) immigrants from Russia, people with families in the USSR weren't allowed - so it isn't good proof of anything.
Such a blanket ban was a reasonable defense against (highly effective) communist infiltration.
Similarly today the Muslims pose a higher threat to the US/Britain (although both, driven by wokeness countries, try hard to deny it) but there is nothing wrong with the existing Muslim minorities living in the US/Britain.

Actually, the Bielursians were considered to be good, dependable soldiers and the Ukrainians/Jews weren't - not because of their nationality but their propensity to panic and rumor-mongering.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Futurist » 05 Apr 2021 20:51

wm wrote:
05 Apr 2021 15:38
Actually, the KOP's limits were:
Germans, Czechs - 15 percent,
Belarusians/Ukrainians - 3 percent,
Jews - 2 percent.

The main reason for the limits was the spread of communism among the Jewish/Belarusian/Ukrainian masses. Obviously, the Belarusians and especially the Ukrainians didn't consider Russia their homeland.
And we need to remember that:
The Border Protection Corps (Polish: Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza, KOP) was a Polish military formation that was created in 1924 to defend the country's eastern borders against armed Soviet incursions and local bandits.
Doesn't seem like western Ukrainians were strongly committed to Communism given just how ferociously they fought against the Soviet Union after the end of World War II:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian ... 3late_1946

Or was Communism the kind of thing that seemed wonderful until one actually had one's first taste of it?

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by wm » 05 Apr 2021 22:19

It was all about an elevated threat - maybe the western Ukrainians were only 5 or 15 percent more prone to communism, but still, such a ban was reasonable considering the Border Protection Corps was tiny ~25,000 troops.
At that time really no country trusted its minorities anyway.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 Apr 2021 09:45

Hi wm,

Nobody is arguing that it wasn't a wise precaution on the part of the Poles. But it does indicate that interwar Poland was a multi-ethnic country in which the minorities were not fully trusted for nationalist or ideological reasons. Other countries like Romania and Czechoslovakia had similar suspicions and took similar measures in the interwar years.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by gebhk » 06 Apr 2021 13:50

Hi Futurist
Doesn't seem like western Ukrainians were strongly committed to Communism given just how ferociously they fought against the Soviet Union after the end of World War II:
An erroneous comparison. By 1944 the Ukrainians had had the chance of sampling the delights of the Soviet system for themselves and had more contact with Eastern Ukrainians, which would have put a dampener on anyone's enthusiasm for Soviet Communism except the most deluded.

Hi Sid
I think you are over-focussing on one aspect of the painfully complex process of selection of soldiers for a posting that was sensitive in the areas of politics and security and which changed with the times. For example the selection criteria for officers were significantly tightened up after a lieutenant in the KOP did a bunk to the USSR in (?) 1925. In fact the flood of desertions from the KOP to the USSR in the 20s was reduced to a trickle by the mid thirties. This was partly the result of much more rigorous security checks which examined a candidate's social class (peasants were preferred to the sons of workers, especially workers from large industrialised centres), criminal history, political affiliations and opinions, personal psychological characteristics etc.

Needless to say, national origins did play a part in this process and, given the times, played a more significant role than it would nowadays. That is not to say that ethnic background does not play an equally significant role today than it did then, with regard to loyalty. And not without cause - as no fan of Soviet Communism and a British citizen I would have had no problem fighting the Russians had the Cold War gone hot in my youth. However had it come to fighting Polish troops I had no idea what I would have done (albeit I cannot see myself 'going over'). I would certainly have been a less than enthusiastic soldier under those circumstances and I was far from unique in that respect. Not surprisingly, my access to sensitive positions in the British Army, had I chosen such a career, would have been limited (assuming I would have being accepted in the first place given the policy of not accepting people with family ties behind the Iron Curtain). However, much less attention would be, I would hope, given nowadays to the belief in national stereotypes as a guide to behaviour - something that was broadly considered a fact at the time in question. These 'national characteristics' were widely considered a good guide to what made a 'good soldier'. For example Muslims were considered better soldiers than Hindus and Muslims were, therefore, over-represented in the Indian Army.

Of course there is some truth (albeit a cultural one rather than a genetic one) in this and a self-fulfilling prophesy. Byelorussians in Polish service outperformed Polish soldiers in the Polish Army with regard to practically every metric you could choose (desertions, criminality, military performance) despite a virtually identical geo-political situation to the Ukrainians among whom the opposite seems to have been the case.

Also, I would suggest, you are grossly oversimplifying the whole issue of the extra-territorial system of recruitment to one factor - suspicion of disloyalty to the state. The reality is that there was a host of reasons why this system was adopted, predominantly the need to unify three very diverse systems inherited from three occupiers and to make some attempt to bring up standards in the very backward parts of the country - also an inherited problem.

WM
Where do these figures for KOP nationality limits come from? AFAIK they were never set officially, at least at the outset. In the 'recreated KOP' in 1939 up to 20% of the cavalry and engineering KOP unit personnel were German.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 Apr 2021 15:42

Hi gebhk,

The nature of this medium necessarily over simplifies matters and one can't address everything, short of writing a book, and I'd rather like to be paid for that!

The fact that the Czechs sent Ruthenians/Ukrainians to Bohemia to do their conscript service and Czechs and Germans to Ruthenia shows that this was a more widely adopted practice. The same was true of Romania and its minorities. The effect was to ensure that the active formations in a given area were reliable because they were either drawn from the majority national population or were divorced from areas populated by their own minority.

I experienced some of these problems in a small way myself in Rhodesia. I am British but volunteered out there. My father was then serving in the British Army and I felt that this was the one enemy I would have a difficulty fighting. I told one Rhodesian farmer in Chipinga this in late 1978 and he was not amused.

Later, just after the ceasefire, at the very end of 1979 or early 1980, a low flying British Puma helicopter hit telephone wires between Mtoko and Mudzi and crashed on the road. We were all in a Sub-Joc meeting at Mtoko FAF and rushed to the scene. I noticed some British maps blowing around and saw that they were more detailed and accurate than our own, so I collected them all and took them to Superintendent Higginbottom (sp?), the then BSAP Sub-Joc commander, because I thought they might be useful to us if the ceasefire broke down. He took the maps and then asked me suspiciously, "You're British aren't you?". When I said "Yes, Sir." he ordered me, and me alone, to leave the scene. Ungrateful bastard!

(Thanks for setting off my train of thought. For the first time since the event I have looked the helicopter crash up:
https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov ... 7dec79.pdf)

(The accident report was not entirely accurate. The bodies were not entirely burnt. I picked up one guy's forearm, held together by his watch strap.)

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Did the Lithuanians, Belarusians, Volhynian Ukrainians, and Jews under Polish rule prefer Polish rule to Russian rul

Post by gebhk » 08 Apr 2021 10:53

The nature of this medium necessarily over simplifies matters and one can't address everything
True, but when the oversimplification becomes a tendentious distortion it is not helpful. I am sure you would demur if I were to claim that the reason the British Army sends its troops to exercise on Salisbury Plain is to remove its Muslim servicemen from the influence of radical clerics. It is undoubtedly a useful (from the point of view of the government) bi-product (and indeed so is the removal of many young men from local gang/criminal cultures regardless of their ethnic/cultural backgrounds). However it is not the fundamental reason why it is done.

The point you seem to miss is that it is not the Ukrainians, Belarusians etc that were transposed but EVERYONE regardless of their ethnic background (we discussed this at length in Volyn's topic 75. Pułk Piechoty Regimental Banner and Training. This was essential for the army itself for a number of reasons, chief among them being the very uneven distribution in the country of skills and quality of manpower. In parallel and related to this, was the need to unify a state and by extension - its army, that for over 100 years had been governed in very different ways with very different cultures in its three separate parts.

The 'suspicion' - and indeed not a wholly unjustified one, of minorities expressed itself differently in the armed services: that is in the limits set upon the percentage of ethnic minorities in military units overall (this also in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of ethnic cliques counteracting the effort to develop a unified military and national culture) and the greater obstacles to posts with access to sensitive material put in the way of members of ethnic minorities. Which is not to say that this in itself was an insurmountable barrier, as the meteoric naval career of Joseph Michael Hubert von Unruh, a German aristocrat born and bred who did not even speak Polish fluently, shows.

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K
Last edited by gebhk on 08 Apr 2021 12:20, edited 1 time in total.

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