Nine days ago, on August 23rd, 1939, Nazi Germany & Soviet Russia signed a Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, formally known as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. This was a foreshadow to war. If you were expecting a Labor Day blog then you are mistaken; Not this year. It has been exactly 75 years since World War II began with the invasion of Poland.
The 20th Century’s most heinous death sprees: World War II, The Holocaust, The Korean War and The Cold War are an era when between 30 Million-nearly 100 Million were killed, some genocidally. Truly a century of madness.
But it started with the fifth partition of Poland. FIVE ??? Yes, I said five partitions. The first three partitions (zabiory) in 1772, 1793, 1795 were by: Prussia, Austria, and Russia. These are the reason we see: Ger-Poland, Rus-Poland or Aus-Poland in the US Census during the Great Migration era 1870-1920. This jester likens Napoleon’s Duchy of Warsaw as the 4th partition (1807-1815). So when the Nazis and Soviets invade Poland in 1939 to form the General Government, with its Districts: Warsaw, Radom Lublin, and Krakow (2 years hence, 1941 with Operation Barbarosa, also Galicia) we arrive at the fifth partition.
Stanczyk, mentions those 4 or 5 Districts (Distrikts) as they are important to interpret the administrative hierarchy for the vital records between 1939-1945. It was the same in the prior four partitions of Poland that administrative hierarchy changes occurred.
The largest civil administrative division, what Americans might think of as Province/State was variously known, depending on partition as: Provinz/Kreis, Wojewodztwo, Gubernia, Departament and Distrikt. Knowing the civil administrative hierarchy is important in locating your ancestor’s village.
Let’s hope that Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the support of the Russian Rebels in Ukraine and the Syrian Civil War giving rise to the fascist Islamic State is not the beginning of the 21st century of madness. Think !