Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wilno Voivodeship (1923–1939)

Województwo wileńskie

Coat of Arms
(Coat of Arms)

Wilno Voivodeship

The Wilno Voivodeship (Polish: województwo wileńskie, Lithuanian: Vilniaus vaivadija, Belarusian: Віленскае вайводзтва) was one of Voivodeships in the Second Polish Republic. It was created in 1926 and was populated mostly by Poles and Belarusians, with notable minorities of Polish and Lithuanian Jews, Lithuanians and Russians. It was dissolved after the German invasion of Poland, with the transfer of the area by the Soviet Union to Lithuania and Belorussian SSR in September 1939.


[edit] History

Wilno Voivodeship was created on 20 January 1926 from the territories of the Wilno Department (created in 1920) and the Republic of Central Lithuania (incorporated into Poland in 1922). From 6 April 1922 to 20 January 1926 it was known as the Wilno Land (ziemia wileńska). It was formed as the last of the Polish voivodeships in the interbellum (although the Sandomierz Voivodeship was to be created in late 1939).

Following the Soviet invasion in 1939, the Voivodeship was divided between the newly created Vileyka Voblast of the Belarusian SSR and independent Lithuania (from 1940 the Lithuanian SSR). This division wasn't internationally accepted. The Polish government-in-exile nominated Zygmunt Fedorowicz in 1942 as its representative for Wilno region. He was arrested by NKVD in 1944.

Currently the former territory of Wilno Voivodeship is divided between the Vinius and Utena counties in Lithuania and the Hrodna, Minsk and Vitsebsk voblasts of Belarus.

[edit] Area

Its area was 29,011 square kilometers (which made it the fourth biggest Polish Voivodeship) and population (according to the 1931 Polish Census) - 1,276,000.

[edit] Location

This Voivodeship was located in northeastern corner of the country, bordering Soviet Union to the east, Lithuania to the west, Latvia to the north, Nowogródek Voivodeship to the south and Bialystok Voivodeship to the south-west. Landscape was flat and hilly in parts, with several lakes (such as Narocz, the biggest lake of interwar Poland). On January 1, 1937, forested was 21.2% of the area (with national average of 22.2%)

[edit] Towns and administrative division


Wilno Voivodeship was created after the territory of the puppet state Republic of Central Lithuania was merged with the so-called Wilno Area. In the years 1922–1939 it was divided into 9 powiats (counties):

  • Brasław county (area 4 217 km², pop. 143 100),

  • Dzisna county (area 3 968 km², pop. 159 900),

  • Mołodeczno county (area 1 898 km², pop. 91 300),

  • Oszmiana county (area 2 362 km², pop. 104 600),

  • Postawy county (area 3 050 km², pop. 99 900),

  • Święciany county (area 4 017 km², pop. 136 500),

  • Wilejka county (area 3 427 km², pop. 131 100),

  • city of Wilno county (since 1930) (area 105 km², pop. 195 100),

  • Wilno - Troki county (area 5 967 km², pop. 214 500. This county was the biggest in the whole interwar Poland, bigger than the whole Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship).

In 1931, the biggest city of the Voivodeship (and the biggest in northeastern Poland) was Wilno, with 195 100 inhabitants. Apart from this city, Voivodeship was sparsely populated and lacked more urban centers. All other towns were very small, none of them reached the population larger than 10 000 (as for 1931).

[edit] Population

Mother tongue in Poland, based on 1931 census.

In 1931 the Voivodeship was inhabited by 1,276,000 people. Majority of population was Polish (59.7% claimed Polish as their native tongue). Among minorities there were: Belarusians (22.7%), Russians (3.4%), Jews (8.5%) and Lithuanians (5.5%). The population density was 44 persons per sq. km. (second lowest in Poland, after Polesie Voivodeship).

[edit] Railroads and industry

Wilno Voivodeship was located in the so-called Poland “B”, which meant that it was underdeveloped, with non-existing industry (apart from the city of Wilno)[citation needed]. Large part of population was poor, with high level of illiteracy (in 1931, 29.1% was illiterate, with the national average of 23.1%). Railroad network was scarce, with only few junctions - the most important one at Wilno, also at Molodeczno, Krolewszczyzna and Nowa Wilejka. Total length of railroads within Voivodeship's boundaries was 1,097 kilometers, which was only 3.8 per 100 square kilometers.

[edit] Voivodes

Government delegates


[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. (Polish) Zygmunt Gloger (1900). Geografia historyczna ziem dawnej Polski. Kraków: Spółka Wydawnicza Polska. ISBN 83-214-0883-4. http://monika.univ.gda.pl/~literat/glogre/. 

  • Maly Rocznik Statystyczny, Warszawa 1939 (Concise Statistical Year-Book of Poland, Warsaw 1939).

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