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Displaced Memories

Remembering and Forgetting in Post-War Poland and Ukraine


Anna Wylegała

The book is a comparative case study of collective memory in two small communities situated on two Central-European borderlands. Despite different pre-war histories, Ukrainian Zhovkva (before 1939 Polish Żółkiew) and Polish Krzyż (before 1945 German Kreuz) were to share a common fate of many European localities, destroyed and rebuilt in a completely new shape. As a result of war, and post-war ethnic cleansing and displacement, they lost almost all of their pre-war inhabitants and were repopulated by new people. Based on more than 150 oral history interviews, the book describes the process of reconstruction of social microcosm, involving the reader in a journey through the lives of real people entangled in the dramatic historical events of the 20th century.

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2 Resettlement and the First Phase of Adaptation136


2  Resettlement  and the First Phase of Adaptation136

The Journey: Autobiographical Memory and its Transmission

One of the most important factors that affected the adaptation of the new inhabitants of Krzyż and Zhovkva to their surroundings was the extent to which their migration was voluntary or forced.137 Forced migrants differed from voluntary ones not just in terms of access to various resources, but also in their mindsets when they arrived at their new places of residence. The more forced the migration, the more negatively inclined people are to their new surroundings; the more free will was exercised in the decision to leave one’s old home, the greater the readiness to accept a new one. This first categorization shows from the outset that many different aspects of the adaptation process,138 which will be discussed in the following two chapters, affected different groups of residents in different ways.

The first such element that occupies divergent places in the accounts of different groups of respondents is resettlement itself – an experience that was constitutive for two groups of forced migrants: “repatriates” from the former eastern provinces of interwar Poland, and Ukrainians resettled from eastern Poland to Ukraine. Their stories share a common theme of highly emotive remembrance of ←79 | 80→the journey: each of the interviewees described it as a long, arduous experience that was made difficult by the poor sanitary conditions and lack of food.

We set off for Ukraine. It was 1946, towards...

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