Letter: Ghosts of Ruthenia

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The Independent Culture
Letter: Ghosts of Ruthenia

Sir: I can add a sinister footnote to Timothy Garton Ash's article "Long live Ruthenia" (Weekend Review, 6 March), a country which existed for just one day in 1938, according to Alan Bullock in Hitler, a Study in Tyranny.

I taught in south-west Poland for three semesters and went on a trip with a class to the South-east.

We emerged at a large, derelict station. The state of the rails indicated that no train had travelled beyond to the frontier with Slovakia for some years.

Walking from the train we went to the tourist house past an abandoned graveyard. The inscriptions on the elaborate wrought iron crosses were in Cyrillic and Polish. Further on was a stretch of what had been a road and on either side were mounds covered in nettles.

This was a Ruthenian village. They continued to fight for independence after the end of the Second World War. Normality (probably not the right word) was imposed by the Communists but fighting continued with the Polish Home Army, supported by London, as well as other minorities. Memorials to the Second World War would often have the year in which it ended as 1947 rather than 1945.

The authorities considered that the only solution to the problem the Ruthenians presented was to deport them to the north of Poland.

The village of Lupkow became derelict and a new one, Nowy Lupkow, was built nearby.

R L WILLOTT

Claines, Worcestershire

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