The University of Wisconsin Press
History / World War II / Central & Eastern Europe
The Forced Relocation of Poland’s Ukrainians after World War II
Diana Howansky Reilly
“Reilly's engaging book, a valuable historical source, is a homage to the Lemkos, whose world has disappeared forever.”
—Piotr J. Wróbel, Konstanty Reynert Chair of Polish History, University of Toronto
Following World War II, the communist government of Poland forcibly relocated the country’s Ukrainian minority by means of a Soviet-Polish population exchange and then a secretly planned action code-named Operation Vistula. In Scattered, Diana Howansky Reilly recounts these events through the experiences of three siblings caught up in the conflict, during a turbulent period when compulsory resettlement was a common political tactic used against national minorities to create homogenous states.
Born in the Lemko region of southeastern Poland, Petro, Melania, and Hania Pyrtej survived World War II only to be separated by political decisions over which they had no control. Petro relocated with his wife to Soviet Ukraine during the population exchange of 1944–46, while his sisters Melania and Hania were resettled to western Poland through Operation Vistula in 1947. As the Ukrainian Insurgent Army fought resettlement, the Polish government meanwhile imprisoned suspected sympathizers within the Jaworzno concentration camp. Melania, Reilly’s maternal grandmother, eventually found her way to the United States during Poland’s period of liberalization in the 1960s.
Drawing on oral interviews and archival research, Reilly tells a fascinating, true story that provides a bottom-up perspective and illustrates the impact of extraordinary historical events on the lives of ordinary people. Tracing the story to the present, she describes survivors’ efforts to receive compensation for the destruction of their homes and communities.
Diana Howansky Reilly has master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, in international affairs, and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Connecticut.
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Of related interest:
Poles, Jews, and the Politics of Nationality
The Bund and the Polish Socialist Party in Late Czarist Russia, 18921914
Joshua D. Zimmerman
LC: 2012037002 DK
192 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
34 b/w illus., 5 maps
Cloth $24.95 t
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“A very readable book, dealing with complex and controversial issues of World War II and the early Cold War in a balanced and enlightened manner. Reilly shows how such events as the Nazi and Communist occupations, the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations affected and continue to affect the lives of the people in the region.”
—Serhii Plokhii, Harvard University, author of Yalta: The Price of Peace
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Updated April 19, 2013© 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System