Deportations to USSR

Repatriation of Ukrainians from Poland to USSR (1944-1946) was part of the World War II evacuation and expulsion that sought the ethnic consolidation of the territory of Poland and Ukraine. The treaty signed on 9 September 1944 between Polish communist PKWN government and Ukrainian SSR formed the basis for this repatriation (as well as for the repatriation of Poles (1944-1946)). About 480,000 people were affected by this repatriation.[1]

With the signing of the agreement in September 1944, individuals identified as Ukrainian origin were required to register for resettlement. The number of individuals registered between October 1944 and September 1946 was 492,682. Of this total, 482,880 individuals were eventually relocated to the Ukrainian SSR, settling primarily in the Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Lviv oblasts, in the southern and south-western oblasts of Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk, and to a lesser extent the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. The largest resettlement of Ukrainians from Poland took place in the border counties of Hrubieszow, Przemysl and Sanok followed secondarily by Lubaczow, Tomaszow, Lesko, Jaroslav and Chelm.

During the resettlement campaign, all eligible individuals were required to register with local district commissions administered from the key centers of Jaroslaw, Gorlice, Krasnystaw, Chelm, Lublin, Bilgoraj, Jaslo, Zamosc and Nowy Sacz. The function of the commissions, which were staffed with both Polish and Soviet personnel, was not only to register, co-ordinate and facilitate the transportation of individuals, but also conduct propaganda work among the target population. There was some initial success but the number of applications for resettlement tapered off by mid-1945. In August 1945, the campaign to resettle entered a new phase.

In order to achieve the political objective of relocating the Ukrainiain ethnic population from Poland, the relatively benign character of the policy was abandoned in favor of a more aggressive approach. In this regard, Polish and Soviet security forces (KBW and MVD respectively) were deployed. Mass arrests of local elites were undertaken and a variety of coercive measures were applied to pressure families and individuals to relocate. As force became routine, the voluntary became compulsory. Groups and entire villages were compelled to embark on transports bound for the Soviet Union. Within the course of a single year, July 1945 - July 1946, some 400,000 were uprooted and deported in this manner. The resettlement operation concluded in September 1946, when for all intents and purposes the demographic foundation of the Ukrainian population in Poland was destroyed.

The campaign to resettle, however, fed the ranks of the Ukrainian insurgency (UPA), which has been operating in the region since 1943. Difficulties in suppressing the insurgency, would force the Polish government, at a later date, to pursue more drastic measures Operation Wisła in the resettlement of the remaining population that was identiified as Ukrainian origin and hostile to Polish authority in the territory.