Re: Geography mystery: Did any part of Polish Russia became German between 1880 and 1900? Specifically where? #poland #germany

Anna Doggart

My grandfather whose family came from Minsk, now Belarus, was put as a Pole on a letter to British Home office applying to come to live and work in Britain in 1931. As far as we were concerned, he was Russian. He was born in 1876 we think in Minsk. He lived for a short time in Orsha, also now Belarus but at that time, like Minsk, part of the Russian Empire. He spoke Russian. His sons when they applied to come to Britain recorded themselves as Russian. My grandfather left Minsk in late 1918 or early 1919. We think maybe the Poles were there around that time and he got papers from them? Once he had left, he like other emigres would have lost his Russian citizenship under Lenin’s decree that all those who left would no longer be Russian and so he would be stateless and presumably unable to apply to come to Britain as a Russian. Of course he only left under duress as he was told that he was I on a death list and frightened of pogroms. He took his wife and children to Bad Kreuznach in Germany, hoping to return home when things settled down but that was impossible so he went to Berlin. By 1930 he was applying From Berlin to come to Britain. The Kew records office provided us with copies of his letters to and from the Home office. He gained permission for himself, his wife and one son in 1932. His other 4 children were left behind in Germany. We’d love to understand why he wrote himself down as a Pole so like you we want to know if and when Minsk was ruled by Poles and if they did issue identification papers to Minsk residents and if so, why. By the way his other 4 children all managed to get out during 1930s and survived.
Thanks Anna Doggart

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