The Expulsions from the ‘Congress’ Kingdom of Poland and Galicia as Seen from Personal Accounts (1914–18)

Katarzyna Sierakowska



The article discusses the refugees’ life during the Great War, focusing on the living conditions on their route to and in exile. The aim here is to grasp the experience that the refugees underwent when they were still uncertain of their future, and when they were venturing into the unknown without being aware of where their journey would take them. The source material concerns refugees who fled from the ‘Congress’ Kingdom of Poland and Galicia to central Russia and western part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It involves personal documents, especially those created during this exile experience, and the accounts included in the press, notably in Ognisko Polskie. The evidence presented in the article shows that the exile was among the most traumatic war events. It also demonstrates that the flight and exile affected various groups in different ways. Children and elderly persons were most vulnerable and most likely to suffer damage to their health or even to lose their lives. It was particularly difficult for them to endure adverse weather conditions and malnutrition. They were also more prone to contagious diseases, especially typhus and cholera. The stay in the barracks camps established in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was another difficult experience. Especially initially the camps were not fi t for housing so great a number of people of different age and gender. Finally, the analysis of personal documents shows the use of different survival strategies in the exile. The refugees showed much determination in finding employment or seeking compensation and various benefits; and there was a significant social mobilization to organize assistance to the refugees.


First World War; exile; refugees

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