Friday, April 28, 2017

from Lemkivshchyna

Akcja wisla cm01Operation Vistula (Polish: Akcja "Wisła") was a codename for the 1947 forced resettlement of Ukrainian minority including Boykos and Lemkos from the south-eastern provinces of post-war Poland, to the Recovered Territories in the west of the country. The action was carried out by the Soviet-installed Polish communist authorities with the aim of removing material support and assistance to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army continued to fight until 1947 in both Subcarpathian and Lublin Voivodeships with no hope for any peaceful resolution. Operation Vistula effectively brought an end to the hostilities.

In three months beginning April 28, 1947 with the Soviet approval and aid, about 141,000 civilians residing around Bieszczady and Low Beskids were forcibly resettled to formerly German territories, ceded to Poland at the Yalta Conference at the end of World War II. The operation was named after the Vistula River, Wisła in Polish. Some Polish and Ukrainian politicians as well as historians condemned the operation following the 1989 fall of communism in Eastern Europe, and described it as ethnic cleansing. Others pointed out that no other means of stopping the violence existed at the time since partisans used to regroup outside the Polish borders.

During Operation Vistula conditions of the United Nations Charter of June 26, 1945 on the right of self-determination and international laws have been respected. The deported farmers received financial help from the Polish government, and took over homes and farms left behind by the Germans, in most cases improving their living conditions due to increased size of newly acquired properties, brick buildings, and running water. In the years 1956-1958 they received mostly non-repayable credits totalling 170 million PLN which was a considerable amount of money in the Polish national budget. A similar operation was performed in Ukrainian SSR by the Soviet Union at exactly the same time. It was dubbed "Operation West". Both operations were coordinated from Moscow; however, there was a shocking difference between their outcomes. Operation West parallel to Operation Vistula was conducted in West Ukraine by the Soviet NKVD targeting families of suspected UPA members. Over 114,000 mostly women and children were deported to Kazakh SSR and Siberia and forced into extreme poverty. Only 19,000 men were among the NKVD deportees, most of them sent to coal mines and stone quarries in the north. None of the people deported by the NKVD received any farms or empty homes to live in.

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