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Repatriation and Resettlement of Ethnic Poles
and the PUR Collection:
An Introduction

A massive collection of documents and papers exists regarding the resettlement of the Polish population following World War II. This collection is from the office of the Państwowy Urząd Repatriacyjny, commonly abbreviated as PUR. In English, it’s called the State Office of Repatriation.

This incredible wealth of information is valuable to anyone researching Polish roots of the Kresy or former Eastern Territories of Poland, which were lost to the USSR at the end of WWII. This group of ethnic Poles who were moved from their homes in the pre-WWII Polish eastern lands are known as Repatriates. (In Polish, the term is Repatriant, the plural is Repatrianci.) In the end, more than 1.2 million people were repatriated to Poland from the Kresy. (Kersten, 82)

In addition, the PUR Collection is important to anyone researching the migration of ancestors within Poland at the end of WWII. This group of Poles who lived within Poland but moved to the newly acquired western territories to seek a new life and possible economic growth, are known as Resettlers. (In Polish Przesiedleniec, the plural is Przesiedleńcy.).

There are numerous documents concerning the migration of ethnic Poles from outside pre-WWII Polish borders, such as from France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Rumania and other European nations. The information is valuable for other ethnic groups as well. One can find important documents concerning ethnic Germans forced out of the region, as well as Germans remaining in the new Polish territory. Finally, there is an incredible wealth of information pertaining to ethnic Ukrainians and Rusyns found within Polish borders after the war. In particular, one can find records concerning the Akcja Wisła, the brutal government sponsored ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians and Rusyns from their homeland in and around the Carpathian Mountains to be divided and relocated throughout western and northern Poland. Although the information I provide can aid all the ethnic groups listed above, in this article I will focus on the migration of the ethnic Poles.

The PUR Collection consists of a wide range of archival sources. Of special interest to the genealogist are lists of Poles repatriated and resettled after the war, population statistics, memos and letters concerning individuals, data concerning farmers and their land, livestock and equipment. There are numerous reports on the various ethnic groups affected by the redrawing of the national borders of Poland, the USSR and Germany.

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