Poles and Byelorussians in Mutual Opinions. 1918-1921
The article is based on source material predominantly of Polish origin and at present found in Polish and Lithuanian archives. By referring to material discovered primarily in Vilnius the authoress discusses not only critical opinions formulated in the summer of 1918 by representatives of the Polish political elite in Minsk (Edmund Iwaszkiewicz, a member of the Polish Council) about contemporary Byelorussian elites, but also cites select statements by important figures on the Byelorussian political scene (Anton Luckiewicz/Lutskevich) found in Byelorussian printed sources. Apparently, the Byelorussians treated cooperation with the Poles at best as a pragmatic solution. In turn, the material stored in Warsaw made it possible to propose an outline of the social and national situation in assorted counties of the District of Brzesc (Brest) of the Eastern Territories Civilian Administration (1919-1920). Although the obtained image is incomplete it certainly contains valuable data about heretofore unknown facts. The proximity of lands comprising reborn Poland and the activity of the Polish inhabitants of the District of Brzesc in the western and northern counties intensified the already functioning negative stereotypes. Familiarity with the political and social situation prevailing in the discussed terrains makes it easier to understand the reasons for disillusionment with the Poles, demonstrated after the summer of 1919 not only by the Byelorussian elites but also by the peasants. Ascertaining the deplorable decisions of the local county authorities and the ill will of the higher administration of the District of Brzesc which de facto boycotted the programme announced in the Wilno Proclamation issued in April, still does not provide an answer to the following question: why in the first half of 1919 (and earlier) the Byelorussian elites did not express readiness for authentic and unfeigned cooperation with the Polish State? The authoress does not propose a definitive solution, but she does confirm the negative impact of the stereotype of the Pole (Pilsudski) which functioned (and at times still does) among the Byelorussians. She considers this highly undesirable phenomenon to be the greatest obstacle for the development of objective research relating to Byelorussian-Polish relations and conducted in Belarus.
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