World Academy of Carpatho-Rusyn Culture


Lemko population resettlement

Lemko population resettlement — the transfer of Lemkos from the Carpathian homeland in the years 1944 to 1946. The resettlement was carried out on the basis of an agreement (September 9, 1944) between the governments of Poland and the Soviet Union that provided for a mutual exchange of populations. Poles from the Soviet Ukraine were to be voluntarily resettled in Poland, while Ukrainians, Russians, and Rusyns living within the boundaries of post-World War II Poland were to be resettled to the Soviet Ukraine. Four resettlement (evacuation) commissions operated in the *Lemko Region, based in the towns of Sanok, Jaslo, Gorlice, and Nowy Sacz. The resettlement process, which lasted from November 1944 to September 1946, was carried out with the assistance of the Polish military. A certain number of Russophile-oriented Lemkos supported the resettlement program, as did those who had lost their property during the war. Resettlement was in particular encouraged by local Communist activists and Soviet emissaries. Most Lemkos, however, left their homes under threat from Polish officials, military personnel, and terrorists. Both Ukrainian activists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) opposed what they considered forced deportation. Those who were resettled were permitted to take with them up to two tons (2,000 kilograms) of personal property per family, although this proved to be unrealistic given the general lack of transportation facilities. When the transports stopped in 1946 about 100,000 Lemkos (between 60 and 80 percent of the total number at the time) had been resettled, mostly in the L’viv, Ternopil’, and Ivano-Frankivs’k oblasts of western Ukraine. The Lemkos who did not go to the Soviet Ukraine were forcibly deported the following year to various parts of Poland in the so-called *Vistula Operation.

Bibliography: Bohdan Kordan, “Making Borders Stick: Population Transfer and Resettlement in the Trans-Curzon Territories, 1944-1949,” International Migration Review, XXXI, 3 (Staten Island, N.Y., 1997), pp. 704-720; Julian Kwiek, “Przesiedlenie ludnosci lemkowskiej z wojewodztwa krakowskiego na Ukraine (1945-1946),” Studia Historyczne, XLI, 2 (Cracow, 1998), pp. 237-258.

Bogdan Horbal

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.

 Copyright © 2013