Lost in time and space – non existing villages

There are some special points on the map of eastern Poland that mark non-existing, former villages. It is possible to find them in the Carpathian Mountains (Bieszczady, Beskid Niski), foothills (Pogórze Przemyskie) or uplands (Roztocze). These places used to be inhabited before the Second World War. In 1944 a new Polish government (that one which was supported by the Soviet Union) started to displace people considered as „non-Polish”. They were (in general) Ruthenians devoted to Greek Catholic or the Orthodox Church. Inhabitants of Beskid Niski were called „Lemkos”, those who lived in Bieszczady mountains – „Boykos”. The origin of these ethnic groups are quiet complicated, so please forgive me I won’t write the historical essay here.

This what I want to focus on is the fact that these people had to leave their homeland and go to the unknown places. The displacement was organised from 1944 (people had to go to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic which was a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) until 1947, when the most dramatic incidents took place. During the military action called „Wisła” [”Vistula”] people were moved to the western part of Poland, to the regions that used to be inhabited by Germans until 1945 (you can find former German villages lost in the forests of Sudety mountains).

In the eastern part of Poland the former villages (once full of life, today silent and empty) are marked by wayside crosses and statues, remains of churches, cemeteries, old fruit trees (or even orchands), cellars, wells, rarely existing buildings…

Often it’s not easy to find the former village if you try to do it in the summer or snowy winter. The best option is to explore during the early spring or late autumn… or snowless winter.

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