|Territorial evolution of Poland
in the 20th century
Kresy Wschodnie or Kresy (Polish pronunciation: [ˈkrɛsɨ], "Eastern Borderlands", or "Borderlands") is a former territory of the eastern provinces of Poland. These territories today lie in western Ukraine, western Belarus, as well as eastern Lithuania, with such major cities, as Lwów, Wilno, and Grodno. This territory was included within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Second Polish Republic, until World War II. In the interbellum Poland, the term Kresy roughly equated with the lands beyond the Curzon Line, suggested in December 1919 by the British Foreign Office as the eastern border for Poland. In September 1939, after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, these territories were incorporated into the Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. These Soviet gains were ratified by the Western Allies at the Tehran conference, the Yalta conference and the Potsdam conference. When the Soviet Union broke up, they remained part of those respective republics as they gained independence. Even though Kresy, or the Eastern Borderlands, are no longer Polish territories, the area is still inhabited by a significant Polish minority, and the memory of a Polish Kresy is still cultivated. The attachment to the "myth of Kresy", the vision of the region as a peaceful, idyllic, rural land, has been criticized in Polish discourse. Economically the region was the poorest in interwar Poland, and had the lowest literacy level of the nation, which was the result of more than one hundred years of Austro-Hungarian and Russian rule, as education was not compulsory in the Russian Empire.
The Polish word kresy (borderlands) is the plural form of the word kres, which can be translated as end, term, limit. According to Zbigniew Gołąb, it is "a medieval borrowing from German word Kreis", which in the Middle Ages meant Kreislinie, Umkreis, Landeskreis, Bezirk (borderline, circuit, district). Samuel Linde in his Dictionary of the Polish Language gives a different etymology of the term. According to him, kresy originally meant borderline between Poland and Crimean Khanate, in the area of the lower Dnieper. The word kresy was probably used for the first time in literature by Wincenty Pol in his poems "Mohort" (1854) and "Pieśń o ziemi naszej". Pol claimed that it was the line from the Dniester to the Dnieper River, the Tatar borderland. At the beginning of the 20th century, the meaning of the term expanded to include the lands of the former eastern provinces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, to the east of Lviv - Wilno line. In the Second Polish Republic, the borderlands were equated with the land to the east of Curzon line. Currently, the term describes all eastern lands of the Second Polish Republic that do not belong to modern Poland any longer, plus lands further east, which had belonged to the Commonwealth before 1772, and in which existed Polish communities.
Kingdom of Poland and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish expansion eastwards dates back to the earliest days of Poland. In 1018, King Bolesław I Chrobry invaded Kievan Rus, (see: Boleslaw I's intervention in the Kievan succession crisis, 1018), capturing Kiev, and re-annexing Red Strongholds. In 1340, Red Ruthenia came under Polish control, which opened these lands for Polish colonization and polonization. After the Union of Lublin of 1569, more Polish settlers moved to eastern borderlands of the vast Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Most of them came from Polish provinces of Mazovia and Lesser Poland. They gradually moved eastwards, inhabiting sparsely populated areas, dominated by local peoples (Lithuanians and Ruthenians). Furthermore, upper classes of Kresy accepted Polish culture and language, which resulted in their polonization. The year 1772 marked first partition of the Commonwealth (see Partitions of Poland). By 1795, whole eastern half of the country was annexed by the Russian Empire, and these lands came to be called Stolen Lands. Even though Poles were in the minority in those areas, Stolen Lands were important part of Polish culture, with such colleges, as Wilno University and Liceum Krzemienieckie. Since a number of inhabitants actively participated in national rebellions (November Uprising, January Uprising), Russian authorities exercised persecutions, forced resettlement, penal deportations to Siberia, and denationalization of Poles.
Kresy between World Wars
The years 1918 - 1921 were especially turbulent for Kresy, as it was the time of the rebirth of the Polish state and the formation of new borders. At that time, Poland was fighting three wars to establish its eastern borders: with Ukraine (see Polish–Ukrainian War), Soviet Russia (see Polish-Soviet War), and Lithuania (see Polish–Lithuanian War). All these conflicts were won by Poland, and as a result, it annexed territories that had previously been under Russian administration situated to the east of the Curzon line, plus formerly Austrian Eastern Galicia. This area later formed eastern provinces of the Second Polish Republic. Territories that were included in the Kresy in the interbellum period comprised eastern part of Lwów Voivodeship, Nowogródek Voivodeship, Polesie Voivodeship, Stanisławów Voivodeship, Tarnopol Voivodeship, Wilno Voivodeship, Volhynia Voivodeship, and eastern part of Białystok Voivideship. The Polish government carried out an active policy of Polonization in these territories (see Osadnik), and as a result in southeastern part of Kresy, conflicts with Ukrainians were frequent (see Pacification of Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia (1930)).
Beyond the eastern border of the Second Polish Republic numerous Polish settlements continued to exist, especially around Minsk, Zhytomir and Berdychev. In late 1920s and early 1930s, Soviet authorities created two Polish Autonomous Districts in Belarus and Ukraine, but during Polish operation of the NKVD, most of Poles in those areas were murdered, and the remaining ones were resettled to Kazakhstan (see also Poles in the former Soviet Union).
Kresy during and after World War II
As a consequence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, on September 17, 1939, the Kresy territories were annexed by the Soviet Union (see Soviet invasion of Poland), and a significant part of the ethnic Polish population of the Kresy was deported to other areas of the Soviet Union including Siberia and Kazakhstan. The new border between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was designated by a formal Agreement on Borders and Friendship, signed on September 29, 1939. After rigged elections, communist governments for Western Ukraine and Western Belarus were formed and immediately announced their intention of joining their respective republics to the Soviet Union (see also Territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union). After the German invasion of the USSR, the southeastern part of the Kresy were included into Greater Germany's General Government, whilst the rest was passed to the Reichskommissariats Ostland and Ukraine. In 1943 - 1944, units of Ukrainian Insurgent Army, with help of local Ukrainian peasants, carried out mass murder of Poles living in southeastern Kresy (see Massacres of Poles in Volhynia).
In January 1944, Soviet troops reached the former Polish-Soviet border, and by the end of July 1944 they again brought the whole territory that had been annexed by the USSR in September 1939 under their control. During the Teheran Conference in 1943, a new Soviet-Polish border was established, in effect sanctioning most of the Soviet territorial acquisitions from September 1939, and ignoring protests from the Polish emigre government in London. The Potsdam Conference, via substantive recognition of the pro-Soviet Polish Committee of National Liberation, implicitly consented to the deportation of the Polish people from the Kresy (see Polish population transfers (1944–1946)). Most of Polish inhabitants of Kresy were ordered by the Soviets to move to the former German eastern provinces, the so-called Recovered Territories of the People's Republic of Poland. Poles from southern Kresy (current Ukraine) settled mainly in Silesia, while those from north (Belarus and Lithuania) moved to Pomerania and Masuria. Polish residents of Lviv settled not only in Wrocław, but also Gliwice and Bytom. These cities were not destroyed during the war, also they are located relatively close to Lviv, which was important in case of an expected sudden return to the East.
Frequently, whole Kresy villages and towns moved in one rail transport to new locations. The village of Biała, near Chojnów, is still divided into two parts: Lower Biała, and Upper Biała. Lower Biała was settled by people who used to live in a Bieszczady village of Polana near Ustrzyki Dolne (this area belonged to the Soviet Union until 1951, see 1951 Polish–Soviet territorial exchange), while inhabitants of the village Pyszkowce near Buchach moved to Upper Biała. Every year in September, Biała is home to an annual festival called Kresowiana. In Szczecin and Polish West Pomerania, in the immediate postwar period, one-third of Polish settlers were either people from Kresy, or Sybiraks. In 1948, people born in the Eastern Borderlands made up 47,5% of the population of Opole, 44,7% of Baborów, 47,5% of Wołczyn, 42,1% of Głubczyce, 40,1% of Lewin Brzeski, and 32,6% of Brzeg. In 2011, people with Kresy background made up 25% of the population of the Opole Voivodeship. The town of Jasień was settled by people from the area of Ternopil in late 1945 and early 1946, while Poles from Borschiv moved to Trzcińsko-Zdrój and Chojna. The situation was completely different in Wschowa and its county. In 1945 - 1948, more than 8,000 people moved there. They came from different areas of Kresy - Ashmyany, Ivano-Frankivsk, Rivne, Lviv, Brody, Dziatłava district, and Ternopil.
Altogether, between 1944–1946, more than a million Poles from Kresy moved to the Recovered Territories, including: 150,000 from the area of Wilno, 226,300 from Polesie, 133,900 from Volhynia, 5,000 from Northern Bucovina, and 618,200 from Eastern Galicia. The so-called First Repatriation of Poles (1944–1946) was carried out in a chaotic, disorganized way. People had to spend weeks, even months at railroad stations, waiting for their transport. During that time, they were robbed of their belongings by the locals, Soviet soldiers or Soviet rail workers. For lack of railroad cars, in Lithuania at some point the "one-suitcase policy" was ordered, which meant that Poles had to leave behind all their belongings. They traveled in boxcars or open wagons, the journey was long and dangerous, as they were not protected by the military or the police.
In the immediate postwar period, Polish Communists, who ceded Eastern Borderlands to the Soviet Union, were universally regarded as traitors, and Władysław Gomułka was fully aware of it. People who moved from the East to the Recovered Territories talked among each other about return to Lviv and other locations, and that sooner or later, Germans would move back to Silesia, as a result of World War Three, in which Western Allies would defeat the Soviets. One of the sayings of the postwar period was: "One atomic bomb, and we will again return to Lwów" ("Jedna bomba atomowa i wrócimy znów do Lwowa"). Polish settlers in former German areas were unsecure about their future there until 1970s (see Warschauer Kniefall). Eastern settlers did not feel at home in Lower Silesia, and as a result, they did not care about tools, households and farms abandoned by the Germans. Lubomierz, where several popular films were shot, in 1945 was in a good condition, but in the following years, Polish settlers from the area of Czortków in Podolia turned it into a ruin. Germans were aware of it – in 1959, German sources wrote that Lower Silesia had been ruined by the Poles. Zdzisław Mach, sociologist from Jagiellonian University explains that Poles were forced to settle in the West, which they resented, they had to leave the land they considered sacred, and moved to the areas inhabited by the enemy, also Communist authorities did not invest in the Recovered Territories, because, like the settlers, for a long time they were unsure about a future of these lands. As Mach says, people in Western Poland for years lived "on their suitcases", with all their belongings packed in case of return to the East.
Interwar Kresy and its population
The population of Kresy was multi-ethnic, primarily comprising Poles, Ukrainians and Belarusians. According to official Polish statistics from interwar period, Poles formed the largest ethnic group in these regions, and were demographically the largest ethnic group in the cities. Other national minorities included Lithuanians (in the north), Jews (scattered in cities and towns across the area), Czechs (in Volhynia), and also Russians.
Mother language given in 1931 Polish census was following:
- Lwów Voivodeship; 58% Polish, 34% Ukrainian, 8% Yiddish
- Nowogrodek Voivideship; 53% Polish, 39% Belarusian, 7% Yiddish, 1% Russian
- Polesie Voivodeship; 63% "Other" or Tutejsi, 14% Polish, 10% Yiddish, 6% Belarusian, 5% Ukrainian
- Stanisławów Voivodeship; 69% Ukrainian, 23% Polish, 7% Yiddish, 1% German
- Tarnopol Voivodeship; 49% Polish, 46% Ukrainian, 5% Yiddish
- Wilno Voivodeship; 60% Polish, 23% Belarusian, 8% Yiddish, 3% Russian, 8% Other (including Lithuanian)
- Volhynia Voivodeship; 68% Ukrainian, 17% Polish, 10% Yiddish, 2% German, 1% Russian, 2% Other
- Białystok Voivodeship; 67% Polish, 16% Belarusian, 12% Yiddish, 3% Russian, 2% Other
In 1931, according to the Polish National Census, the largest cities in Polish Eastern Borderlands were:
- Lwów - pop. 312 200,
- Wilno - pop. 195 100,
- Stanisławów - pop. 60 000,
- Brześć nad Bugiem - pop. 50 700,
- Grodno - pop. 49 700,
- Równe - pop. 41 900,
- Borysław - pop. 41 500,
- Łuck - pop. 35 600,
- Tarnopol - pop. 33 900.
Prominent Poles born in Kresy
A number of influential figures in Polish history were born in the area of kresy (note: the following list does not include Poles born in the cities of Lwow (Lviv), and Wilno (Vilnius) - see List of Leopolitans, List of Vilnius-related people). The family of current President of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, hails from northern Lithuania. The mother of Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage is from Borysław, and the father of former First Lady Jolanta Kwaśniewska was born in Volhynia, where his sister was murdered in 1943 by the Ukrainian nationalists.
- Tadeusz Borowski, writer and journalist, born in Zhitomir, current Ukraine,
- Tadeusz Czacki, historian, born in Poryck, now Pavlivka, current Ukraine,
- Joseph Conrad, novelist in English, born in Berdichev, current Ukraine,
- Zbigniew Cybulski, actor, born in Kniaze, current Ukraine,
- Ignacy Domeyko, 19th-century geologist, born in Niedźwiadka Wielka, current Belarus,
- Benedykt Dybowski, naturalist and physician, born near Nowogródek, current Belarus,
- Feliks Falk, film director, born in Stanisławów, current Ukraine,
- Mirosław Hermaszewski, astronaut, born in Lipniki, current Ukraine,
- Zygmunt Gloger, historian, archeologist, geographer and ethnographer, born in Kamionka Podolska, current Ukraine,
- Artur Grottger, painter, born in Otynevychi, current Ukraine,
- Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, writer and poet, born in Kalnik, current Ukraine,
- Jerzy Kawalerowicz, film director, born in Gwoździec, current Ukraine,
- Hugo Kołłątaj, social and political activist, political thinker, historian and philosopher, born in Dederkały Wielkie, current Ukraine,
- Tadeusz Konwicki, film director and writer, born in Nowa Wilejka, current Lithuania,
- Ryszard Kapuściński, reporter, born in Pinsk, current Belarus,
- Tadeusz Kościuszko, national hero of Poland, Lithuania, the United States and Belarus, born in the village of Mereczowszczyzna, current Belarus,
- Tadeusz Łomnicki, one of the most notable Polish actors, born in Podhajce, current Ukraine,
- Stanisław Maczek, tank commander in World War II, born in Szczerzec, current Ukraine,
- Ernest Malinowski, railway engineer/ builder, born in Seweryny, current Ukraine,
- Adam Mickiewicz, a national poet of Poland, born in Zavosse (Polish: Zaosie), current Belarus,
- Czesław Miłosz, poet, recipient of the Nobel Prize, born in Seteniai, current Lithuania,
- Stanisław Moniuszko, composer, born in current Belarus,
- Gabriel Narutowicz, first President of the Second Polish Republic, born in Telsiai, current Lithuania,
- Adam Naruszewicz, poet, historian, dramatist, translator, publicist, born in Pinsk, current Belarus,
- Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, poet, playwright and statesman, born near Brest, current Belarus,
- Czesław Niemen, singer, born in Stare Wasiliszki, current Belarus,
- Eliza Orzeszkowa, writer, born in Milkowszczyzna, current Belarus
- Ignacy Jan Paderewski, composer, diplomat, politician, born the village of Kurilovka, current Ukraine,
- Józef Piłsudski, statesman, Chief of State, First Marshal, and leader of the Second Polish Republic, born in Zalavas (Polish: Zułów), current Lithuania,
- Stanisław August Poniatowski, last King of Poland, born in Vowchyn, current Belarus,
- Jan Potocki, writer and adventurer, author of The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, born in Pikov, current Ukraine,
- Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki, magnate and military leader, after whom the city of Stanisławów was named, born in Podhajce, current Ukraine,
- Edward Rydz-Śmigły, marshal of Poland, born in Lapshin, current Ukraine,
- Wacław Rzewuski, drama writer, poet, Grand Crown Hetman, born in Rozdol, current Ukraine,
- Juliusz Słowacki, the father of modern Polish drama, born in Kremenets (Polish: Krzemieniec), current Ukraine,
- John III Sobieski, King of Poland, born in Olesko, current Ukraine,
- Karol Szymanowski, composer, born in Tymoszówka, current Ukraine,
- Anna Walentynowicz, Solidarity legend, born in Równe, current Ukraine,
- Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, King of Poland, born in Vyshnivets (Polish: Wiśniowiec), current Ukraine,
- Wiktor Thommée, Brigadier General of the Polish Army, born in Švenčionys, current Lithuania,
- Romuald Traugutt, commander of the January Uprising, born in the village of Szostakowo, near Brest Litovsk, current Lithuania,
- Gabriela Zapolska, writer and actress, born in Podhajce, current Ukraine,
- Franciszek Żwirko, aviator, born in Švenčionys, current Lithuania.
Kresy in Polish culture
Since some of the most distinguished names in Polish literature were born in Kresy (Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki or Czesław Miłosz), Eastern Borderlands have been mentioned and described in several works. Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz begins with the Polish language invocation, "O Lithuania, my fatherland, thou art like good health...". Other notable books that take place in Kresy, are Nad Niemnem, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, With Fire and Sword, Fire in the Steppe. In Communist Poland, all Kresy-related topics, such as Polish heritage in the East, or Massacres of Poles in Volhynia were banned for propaganda reasons, because these lands belonged to the Soviet Union. In official documents, people born in Eastern Borderlands were presented as born in the Soviet Union, and very few Kresy-themed books or films were created at that time. One of the exceptions was immensely popular comedy trilogy by Sylwester Chęciński (Sami swoi from 1967, Nie ma mocnych from 1974, and Kochaj albo rzuć from 1977). The trilogy tells the story of two quarreling families, who after the end of the Second World War were resettled from current Western Ukraine to Lower Silesia, after Poland's borders were shifted westwards.
After collapse of the Communist system, Kresy returned to Polish culture. Numerous books and albums are published about Eastern Borderlands, frequently with original photos from the prewar era. Good examples of such publications are albums Kresy in Photos of Henryk Poddębski, published in May 2010 in Lublin, with forewords by well-known people with Kresy background - Anna Seniuk, Krzesimir Dębski and Maciej Płażyński, The World of Kresy, with numerous photos, postcards and maps, Sentimental Journeys. Travel across Kresy with Andrzej Wajda and Daniel Olbrychski, and The Encyclopedia of Kresy, with 3600 articles, and foreword by another famous person from Kresy, Stanisław Lem. Articles about Eastern Borderlands frequently appear in Polish newspapers and magazines. Local office of Gazeta Wyborcza in Wrocław in late 2010 began a Kresy Family Album, collecting stories and photos of those who moved from the East. In the first half of 2011, Rzeczpospolita daily published a series called The Book of Eastern Borderlands (Księga kresów wschodnich).
July 2012 issue of the Uważam Rze Historia magazine was dedicated to the Eastern Borderlands and their importance in Polish history and culture. As Paweł Lisicki, editor in chief of the magazine wrote: "Kresy is the very center of Polish life, the very center of Polish thought, tradition and spirit. From Kresy come Polish dreams and myths". In the same magazine, Paweł Zychowicz wrote: "The eastern lands, which seven decades ago used to belong to Poland, are of the same interest to an average Pole, as Mozambique, Samoa, or Gabon. Eastern Borderlands have almost completely been pushed out of minds of most of the nation. This is due both to the propaganda of Communist Poland, and the intellectual climate, dominant in the Third Polish Republic (...) Meanwhile, these lands were the most precious part of our country. They were the source of our political power and the richness of our culture. Above all, Eastern Borderlands were the answer to our fatal geopolitical location. The loss of these lands not only made Poland poorer, but also pushed back its development. The heritage of the Jagiellons was taken away from us, and once again, we landed in the times of the weak Piasts (...) After the Union of Krewo, Poland opened to the vast areas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Rus'. We sailed out of Central Europe to the vast waters of the East (...) The great Lithuanian, Marshal Józef Piłsudski said that Poland is like a bagel - empty inside, with anything of value located in the outside part".
In Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine
At present, the territory known to Poles as Kresy belongs to independent nations of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. Ethnic Poles still live in those areas: in Lithuania they are the largest ethnic minority in the country (see Poles in Lithuania), in Belarus they are the second largest ethnic minority in the country after the Russians (see Poles in Belarus), and in Ukraine, they officially number 144,130, but some Polish organizations claim that the number of Poles in Ukraine may reach up to 2 million, with most of them assimilated. (see Poles in Ukraine). Furthermore, there is a 50,000 Polish minority in Latvia. In Lithuania and Belarus, Poles are more numerous than in Ukraine. This is the result of the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia; in Volhynia, those Poles who survived the slaughter, begged for an opportunity to leave.
Numerous Polish organizations are active in former Eastern Borderlands, such as Association of Poles in Ukraine, Association of Polish Culture of the Lviv Land, Federation of Polish Organizations in Ukraine, Union of Poles in Belarus, and Association of Poles in Lithuania. There are Polish sports clubs (Pogoń Lwów, Polonia Vilnius), newspapers (Gazeta Lwowska, Kurier Wileński), radio stations (in Lviv and Vilnius), numerous theatres, schools, choirs and folk ensembles. Poles living in Kresy are helped by government-sponsored organization Fundacja Pomoc Polakom na Wschodzie, as well as other organizations, such as Association of Help of Poles in the East Kresy (see also Karta Polaka). Money is frequently collected to help those Poles who live in Kresy, and there are several annual events, such as Christmas Package for a Polish Veteran in Kresy, and Summer with Poland, sponsored by Association "Polish Community", in which Polish children from Kresy are invited to visit Poland. Polish language handbooks and films, as well as medicines and clothes are collected and sent to Kresy. Books are most often sent to Polish schools which exist there — for example, in December 2010, University of Wroclaw organized event called Become a Polish Santa Claus and Give a Book to a Polish Child in Kresy. Polish churches and cemeteries (such as Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów) are renovated for money from Poland. For example, in Nysa, money is collected to renovate a Roman Catholic church in Lopatyn near Lviv, while residents of Oława collect funds to renovate a church in Sasiv, also in the area of Lviv. Also, physicians from Kraków's organization Doctors of Hope regularly visit Eastern Borderlands, and Polish Ministry of Education runs a special program, which sends Polish teachers to former Soviet Union. In 2007, more than 700 teachers worked in the East, most of them in Kresy. Studio East of Polish TV Wrocław organizes event called Save your grandfather's tomb from oblivion (Mogiłę pradziada ocal od zapomnienia), during which students from Lower Silesia visit Western Ukraine, to clean Polish cemeteries there. In July 2011, about 150 students cleaned 16 cemeteries in the area of Lviv, Ternopil, also Podolia and Pokuttya.
Numerous treasures of Polish culture remain in the East. In Vilnius, there is the Wróblewski Library, with 160,000 volumes and 30,000 manuscripts, which now belongs to the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. In Lviv, there is the Ossolineum, one of the most important Polish culture centres. Adolf Juzwenko, current president of Wrocław's office of the Ossolineum, says that in 1945, there was a mass public campaign in Poland, aimed at transporting whole Ossolineum to Wrocław. It succeeded in recovering only 200,000 volumes, as the Soviets decided that the bulk of the library had to stay in Lviv.
Kresy in contemporary Poland
Even though Poland lost Eastern Borderlands as a result of World War II, Poles still vividly remember those lands. Since Poles from current Western Ukraine mostly moved to Silesia, the city of Wrocław is regarded as miasto lwowskie (Lwów-like city), while Toruń, Gdańsk and Olsztyn are regarded as miasta wileńskie (Wilno-like cities). Ossolineum, famous library from Lviv, is now located in Wrocław, Polish academics from Lviv established Polish-language University of Wrocław (taking over from the old German University of Breslau) and Silesian University of Technology, at the same time, Polish academics from Vilnius opened Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.
There are numerous Kresy-oriented organizations, with the largest one, World Congress of Kresy Inhabitants (Światowy Kongres Kresowian), located in Bytom, and branches scattered across Poland, as well as in other countries. The Congress organizes annual World Convention and Pilgrimage of Kresy Inhabitants to Jasna Góra Monastery.
Other important Kresy organizations, active in contemporary Poland, are:
- Polskie Towarzystwo Miłośników Miasta Krzemieńca i Ziemi Krzemienieckiej (Polish Association of Lovers of Krzemieniec and Krzemieniec Land) from Poznań.
- Stowarzyszenie Kresowe "Podkamień” (Kresy Association “Podkamien”) from Wołów,
- Stowarzyszenie Odra-Niemen (Association Odra - Niemen) from Wrocław,
- Stowarzyszenie Przyjaciół Ziemi Drohobyckiej (Association of Friends of Drohobycz Land) from Legnica,
- Stowarzyszenie Rodzin Osadników Wojskowych i Cywilnych Kresów Wschodnich (Association of Families of Osadniks of Eastern Borderlands) from Warsaw,
- Towarzystwo Miłośników Kultury Kresowej (Association of Friends of Kresy Culture) from Wroclaw,
- Towarzystwo Miłośników Wołynia i Polesia (Association of Lovers of Volhynia and Polesie) from Warsaw,
- Towarzystwo Miłośników Lwowa i Kresów Południowo-Wschodnich (Association of Lovers of Lwów and Southeastern Kresy) from Wrocław, with branches in Brzeg, Bydgoszcz, Bytom, Chełm, Gdańsk, Jelenia Góra, Kłodzko, Kraków, Leszno, Lublin, Poznań, Szczecinek, Świdwin, Warszawa, Węgliniec and Zabrze,
- Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Grodna i Wilna (Association of Friends of Grodno and Wilno), with branches in Białystok, Ełk, Gdańsk, Giżycko, Lublin, Łódź, Ostrołęka, Stargard Szczeciński, Warszawa, Węgorzewo, Wrocław,
- Związek Sybirakow (Association of Sybiraks) from Warsaw, with branches scattered across Poland and abroad.
Every year, in Masurian town of Mrągowo, there is Festiwal Kultury Kresowej (Festival of Kresy Culture), sponsored among others by the Senate of the Republic of Poland and the Minister of Culture of Poland, with patronage of the First Lady Anna Komorowska. The Festival is broadcast by TVP2 and TVP Polonia, and in 2011 it was organized for the 17th time. Among participants of the 2011 Festival, there were such artists, as Folk Ensemble Mozyrzanka from Mozyr, Children and Youth Band Tęcza from Minsk, Folk Band Kresowianka from Ivyanets, Polish Academic Choir Zgoda from Brest, Instrumental Band Biedronki from Minsk, Vocal Duo Wspólna wędrówka from Minsk, Children's Polonia Ensemble Dolinianka from Stara Huta (Ukraine), Ensemble Fujareczka from Sambir, Ensemble Boryslawiacy from Boryslav, Ensemble Niebo do Wynajecia from Stralhivci (Ukraine), Polish Dance and Song Ensemble Wilenka from Vilnius, Dance and Song Band Troczenie from Trakai, Band Wesołe Wilno from Vilnius, Song and Dance Ensemble Kotwica from Kaunas, and Folk and Polish Folklore Dance and Song Ensemble Syberyjski Krakowiak from Abakan in Siberia.
Other notable Kresy-oriented festivals are:
- Dzień Kresowiaka (Kresy Inhabitant Day) in the village of Lagiewniki near Malbork,
- Dzień Kresowy (Kresy Day) in Wschowa,
- Dzień Kultury Kresowej (Day of Kresy Culture) in Kędzierzyn-Koźle,
- Dni Kultury Kresowej (Days of Kresy Culture) in Białystok,
- Dni Kultury Kresowej (Days of Kresy Culture) in Brzeg,
- Dni Kultury Kresowej (Days of Kresy Culture) in Prochowice,
- Kaziuki (Kaziuko mugė), an annual folk arts and crafts fair, which takes place in Vilnius, is organized in several Polish cities (Gdańsk, Olsztyn, Poznań, Suwałki, Warsaw), on initiative of Poles resettled from Vilnius,
- Kresowy Festiwal Polonijny Młodzieży Szkolnej (Kresy Festival of Polonia Schoolchildren) in Zamość,
- Legnickie Dni Kultury Kresowej (Legnica Days of Kresy Culture) in Legnica, Lubin, Jawor, Chojnów,
- Lipcowy Festiwal Kresowy (July Kresy Festival) in Rejowiec,
- Międzynarodowy Festiwal Kultury Kresowej (International Festival of Kresy Culture) in Jarosław,
- Prezentacja Kultury Polaków z Kresów Wschodnich i Bukowiny (Show of Culture of Poles from Eastern Borderlands and Bucovina) in Zielona Góra, Szprotawa, Nowa Sól, Kożuchów, Żagań
- Świdnicki Dzień Kultury Kresowej i Lwowa (Świdnica Day of Kresy and Lwow Culture) in Świdnica.
In Lubaczów is Museum of Kresy, and there is a project, supported by local government, to create a Museum of Eastern Borderlands in Wrocław, the city where a number of Poles from Kresy settled after World War II. Numerous photo albums and books, depicting cities, towns and landscapes of Kresy are published every year in Poland. In Chełm, there is Kresy Bicycle Marathon, Polish Radio Białystok every week broadcasts Kresy Magazine, dedicated to history and present times of Eastern Borderlands. Every Sunday, Polish Radio Katowice broadcasts a program based on famous prewar Lwów's Merry Wave, every Tuesday, Polish Radio Rzeszów broadcasts a program Kresy Landscapes. In Wrocław, Association of Remembrance of Victims of Ukrainian Nationalists publishes Na Rubieży (On the Border) magazine. Among best known Kresy activists of contemporary Poland are Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, and Dr. Tadeusz Kukiz, father of popular singer Paweł Kukiz. Since 2007, annual medals Heritage of Eastern Borderlands are awarded in Wrocław. The 2011 recipient was emeritus Archbishop of Wrocław, Henryk Gulbinowicz. Participants of annual Katyn Motorcycle Raid (Motocyklowy Rajd Katyński) always visit Polish centers in Kresy, giving presents to children, and meeting local Poles.
The program of 2011 Days of Kresy Culture (October 22–23) in Brzeg covered such events, as: Kresy themed cabaret, promotion of Kresy books, Eastern Borderlands cuisine, mass in a local church, meetings with Kresy activists and scholars, and theatre shows of Brzeg's Garrison Club as well as Lwów Eaglets Middle School number 3 in Brzeg. Organizers of the festival assured that for the two days Brzeg would turn into the "capital of interwar Polish Kresy".
In January, February and March 2012, Centre for Public Opinion Research made a survey, asking Poles about their ties to the Kresy. It turned out that almost 15% of the population of Poland (4,3 - 4,6 million people) declared that they either were born in the Kresy, or have a parent or a grandparent who comes from that region. The number of Kresowiacy is high in northern and western Poland – as many as 51% of inhabitants of Lubusz Voivodeship, and 47% of inhabitants of Lower Silesian Voivodeship stated that their family has ties to the Kresy. Furthermore, Kresowiacy now make 30% of the population of Opole Voivodeship, 25% of the population of West Pomeranian Voivodeship, and 18% of the population of Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.
The Kresy dialects of Polish
The Polish presence in Kresy dates back hundreds of years. In the course of the time, two groups of Kresy dialects of the Polish language emerged: northern (dialekt północnokresowy), and southern (dialekt południowokresowy). Both dialects have been influenced by Ukrainian and Belarusian, as well as by Lithuanian, and to Polish speakers in Poland, Kresy dialects are easy to distinguish, as they sound more "musical". Before World War II, the Kresy area was part of Poland, and both dialects were in common use, spoken by million of ethnic Poles. After the war, however, Kresy was annexed by the Soviet Union, and the majority of ethnic Poles were expelled westward, resulting in a severe decline in the number of speakers. The northern Kresy dialect is still used along the Lithanian-Belarusian border, where Poles still live in large numbers, but the southern Kresy dialect is endangered, as Poles in western Ukraine do not form a majority of the population in any district. Particularly notable among the Kresy dialects is the Lwów dialect formerly spoken in Lviv, which emerged in 19th century and gained much popularity and recognition in the 1920s and 1930s, in part due to the countrywide popularity of numerous artists and comedians using it (see also: Dialects of the Polish language).
- Lithuanian and Belarusian Self-Defence
- Lwów Eaglets
- Peace of Riga
- Poles in the former Soviet Union
- Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union
- Polish historical regions
- Polish National-Territorial Region
- Republic of Central Lithuania
- Repatriation of Poles (1955–1959)
- Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939–1946)
- Suwałki Agreement
- Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
- Treaty of Warsaw (1920)
- Vilnius Region
- Volhynia Experiment
- West Ukrainian People's Republic
- Żeligowski's Mutiny
- odczarować mit Kresów Czas odczarować mit Kresów Marcin Wojciechowski, Gazeta Wyborcza 2010-04-12,
- W dodatku Kresy Wschodnie II Rzeczypospolitej były najbiedniejszym regionem kraju Polska ludność kresowa: rodowód, liczebność, rozmieszczenie Piotr Eberhardt, page 21 Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1998
- Historia gospodarcza Polski Andrzej Jezierski, page 269, 2006
- Jak odrodziła się wolna Polska by Andrzej Garlicki, 4 listopada 2009
- Zbigniew Gołąb, "The Origin and Etymology of Old Russian Kriviči," International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Poetics 31/32 (1985, Festschrift H. Birnbaum): 167-174, page 173.
- Michael Hope, Polish Deportees in the Soviet Union, Veritas Foundation, London, 2000, ISBN 0-948202-76-9
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Kresowianie nie mieli wyboru, musieli jechać na zachód, interview with Professor Grzegorz Hryciuk, 2010-12-20
- Smak kresów w Białej
- Obchody 65. rocznicy przybycia Sybiraków i Kresowiaków na Pomorze Zachodnie
- Co czwarty Opolanin pochodzi z Kresów
- Mieszkańcy Jasienia w Hołdzie Repatriantom z Kresów Wschodnich
- Kresowiacy na Ziemi Chojeńskiej
- Wykaz repatriantów przybyłych do Wschowy z kresów wschodnich II RP z maja 1945 r.
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Pierwsza fala przesiedlen
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Kresowianie nie mieli wyboru, musieli jechać na zachód, interview with Professor Grzegorz Hryciuk, 2010-12-20
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Jedna bomba atomowa i wrócimy znów do Lwowa, by Marcin Zaremba. 2010-12-29
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Kresowe życie na walizkach. Interview with Professor Zdzisław Mach, 2010-12-29
- Historia 1871–1939 Anna Radziwiłł, Wojciech Roszkowski Warsaw 2000 page 278
- Bronisław Komorowski in Lithuania: I am from here
- Pamięć o Kresach
- Kresy wschodnie na 214 przedwojennych zdjęciach
- Paweł Lisicki, Centrum Polskiego Życia. Uważam Rze Historia, lipiec 2012, page 3
- [Piotr Zychowicz, Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów dzięki swym ziemiom wschodnim była europejskim mocarstwem
- 2 miliony czy 146 tysięcy? Rzeczpospolita, 29-12-2009
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Kresowianie nie mieli wyboru, musieli jechać na zachód, interview with Professor Grzegorz Hryciuk, 2010-12-20
- Dzieci z Kresów zwiedzają Łódź
- Łopatyn - nyskie serca na kresach
- Aby nie zapomnieć gdzie są nasze korzenie...
- 700 kresowych nauczycieli
- Wakacje na kresowych cmentarzach
- Gazeta Wyborcza, Jak przesiedlić kulturę pozostawioną na Kresach, interview with Adolf Juzwenko, 2010-12-23
- Kresowiacy na nowym miejscu, Rzeczpospolita daily
- Program of the 2011 World Convention and Pilgrimage of Kresy Inhabitants
- 2011 Festival of Kresy Culture
- Kaziuki w Gdańsku - litewskie święto nad Motławą
- Kaziuki w Olsztynie
- Wileńskie Kaziuki w Poznaniu
- Kaziuki w Suwałkach
- Kaziuki w Warszawie
- Will there be a Kresy Museum in Wroclaw, Gazeta Wyborcza
- Wrocław: Medal dla kardynała Gubinowicza
- Komandor Rajdu Katyńskiego: kresy to nasza historia
- Kresowiacy, spotkajmy się w Brzegu!
- CBOS: co siódmy Polak pochodzi z Kresów, onet.pl Retrieved April 16, 2012
- Kresowe odmiany polszczyzny by Halina Karaś
- "Poles living in Lithuania (particularly in the Vilnius region), Belarus (particularly the northwest), and in the northeast of Poland continue to speak the Eastern Borderlands dialect which is more "musical" than standard Polish, hence easy to distinguish."
- Mały rocznik statystyczny 1939, Główny Urząd Statystyczny, Warszawa 1939 (Concise Statistical Yearbook 1939, Central Statistical Office, Warsaw 1939).
- Kresy.pl - The Biggest Polish Kresy Portal
- Commonwealth of Diverse Cultures: Poland's Heritage
- Eastern Borderlands of Poland (in English)
- Polish maps of present-day Western Ukraine and Belarus (1930s)
- Virtual Commonwealth - Eastern Borderlands
- Virtual Tour of Kresy
- Volhynia in the Interwar Period
- An extensive digital collection of Kresy-oriented historic publications