Iwona's Sources - Polish Colony in Manchuria

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Polish Colony in Manchuria, 1897-1949

In the Archiwum Akt Nowych [Archive of New Records] in Warsaw there are records dealing with the Polish colony in Harbin, located in Manchuria, in northeastern China. These records are compiled in two parts:

1. Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1917-1939; Consulate General of the Republic in Harbin, 1924-1933

2. The Polish Colony in Harbin, Manchuria

The first Poles arrived in Manchuria in 1897. They were sent there by the Czarist government as the first expedition of builders for the Eastern China railway. This group, under the direction of engineer Adam Szydlowski, designated a site for founding a settlement and began building the city of Harbin, which soon became the center of the Polish colony.

About 7,000 Poles worked on the construction of the railway. The majority of them were withdrawn from the Warsaw-Vienna Railway, and later arrivals were military refugees from the territory of the Kingdom of Poland.

In 1917 the first Polish organization was founded: the Zwiazek Polaków Wojskowych w Mandzurii [Alliance of Military Poles in Manchuria]. The goal of this alliance was solidarity and preservation of the national spirit. Toward the end of that same year the next organization was founded, the Polski Komitet Obrony Interesow Narodowych [Polish Committee for the Defense of National Interests], which in 1918 was transformed into the Polski Komitet Narodowy na Syberie i Rosje [Polish National Committee for Siberia and Russia]. This committee appointed representatives in various parts of Siberia where Poles lived. But the Russian government did not want to recognize Polish statehood, and for this reason the Committee asked the Komitet Narodowy Polski [Polish National Committee] in Paris to become its superior and sent a commissioner.

The Committee dealt with matters military and civilian. It was also the patron of local Scouting. It confirmed cases dealing with recognition of Polish citizenship, prisoners, visas, and issuing passports.

A new alliance was set up, the Zwiazek Polski Niepodleglosciowej [Alliance of Independent Poland] in Tientsin, which registered Poles living in China, issued identity papers and temporary passports, and facilitated Poles' return to Poland.

Beginning in 1921 the number of Poles began to diminish dramatically. Former prisoners of war were repatriated to Poland by the Soviet Union. The cause was a 1920 treaty stating that workers on the railways could only be Russian and Chinese.

A second wave of repatriation came in 1924, and a third in 1935, to Japanese territory. During the years 1935-1949 the number of Poles was steady, coming to some 1,250 persons.

In 1932 the Japanese occupying Manchuria created there the puppet state of Manchukuo. The Polish government recognized this political creation, and thus gained influence on the Polish colony.

In 1937 a new pastor, Rev. Pawel Chodniewicz, arrived in Harbin and immediately got involved in social matters of the Polish colony. He joined the chief administration of the Society "Gospoda Polska," and when the Polish Consulate was closed in 1941, he was active in forming the reaction.

When Japan entered the war, the Polish Consulate was closed. The consul, J. Litewski, formed the Polski Komitet Opiekunczy [Polish Guardian Committee] to secure the material welfare of the Polish school by taxing members of the colony. As a result of political pressure from Japan and Germany, the lives of European colonists and Chinese became significantly more difficult. Rationing cards were introduced for local provisions. All the inhabitants of Manchukuo had to possess three so-called "residence cards," renewed annually, and carry as well yellow cards with a number, and that same number had to appear on the doors of their residences.

Then the Japanese closed the Polish school (the Henryk Sienkiewicz gimnazjum, which had been operating for 37 years). The last Polish organization, the Polski Komitet Obywatelski [Polish Citizenship Committee], despite its assurances that it would take up the matter of emigration to Poland, did very little. Not until 1942 did a branch of the PKO, called the Tymczasowy Komitet Polski na Mandzurie [Polish Temporary Committee in Manchuria], put in order the files of Poles and persons applying for Polish citizenship. This registration showed that 80% of the Poles declared for return to Poland. 12% did not want to leave due to age or illness, while 8% gave no reason. On the 3rd and 12th of July, 1949, sea transports set out, each carrying 400 persons. The Polish government's Liquidation Group left on 24 July 1949. In December 1950 another 200 persons returned, on a Polish merchant vessel.

The documents of the Polish colony in Manchuria were turned over to UNESCO, which transferred these materials to the Polish State Archives in July 1950. These were mainly school documents from the period 1914-1949 (lists of students, daily reports, photographs). A second file of documents was transferred in 1962 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (mainly letters and correspondence of individual consuls and diplomatic employees in Harbin).

Unfortunately I have no information on what happened to the civil registry documents -- but I am still pursuing ways to get that information. I am in contact with a priest who compiled the biography of a pastor from Harbin.

In the meantime, let me list some of the categories of Polish records for Harbin:

1. Polish Colony in Harbin

a) call numbers 1-12: first Polish organizations in Harbin/Manchuria plus press articles 1917-1920, including number 11, the weekly magazine Polish Letters from the Far East

b) call # 13-33: Polish organizations 1935-1949 plus albums and pictures

c) call # 34-65: records of the Polish secondary school, the Henryk Sienkiewicz gimnazium, with books of pupils, notes, certificates of exams, including the following:

- call # 34: memorial book of the 25th anniversary of Henryk Sienkiewicz
gimnazium (1912-1937) with photographs, lists of participants.
- call # 36: index of Polish pupils 1928/1929/1930
- call # 37: index of pupils 1930-1933
- call # 39: exam certificates, 1921, 1928-1930
- call # 41: all pupils' certificates (no range of years was given)
- call # 42: index of pupils' exams 1924-1925
- call # 43: index of pupils' exams 1925-1926
- call # 44: index of pupils' exams 1926-1927, and so on ... till 1949.

d) call # 66: History of Polish Colony in Manchuria, written in 1951 by K. Krakowski.

2. Polish Consulate in Harbin

Some of the interesting documents in this category include:
- call number 2: index of Polish traders, 1932
- call number 5: register of Polish colonists, 1929-1930
- call numbers 12-23: ref consulate clerks - personal files:

a) Asanume Kijami, 1939-1940
b) Bobolewski Czeslaw, 1937-1940
c) Draminski Romuald, 1937-1940
d) Leminski, Jozef, 1936-1940
e) Macedonski, Alexander, 1933-1940
f) Pawlowicz, Czeslaw,1936-1941
g) Tobaczynski, Fryderyk, 1938-1941
h) Zaleski, Franciszek, vice-consul, 1934-1939
i) Zomozinski, Jan, a clerk, 1934-1941
j) Bobrzycki, Franciszek, an usher, 1934-1939
k) all files on Polish and foreign inhabitants who served in the Polish Army -- letters

- call number 24: pensions and other welfare benefits for these who were born in 1863 and their families, plus letters and applications 1920-1923 (referring to Poles only)

- call number 25: the same as above for the years 1922-1924
- call number 26: organizations and attendance for Polish citizens in Manchuria plus letters, 1919-1920
- call number 27: relocation of Polish citizens (applications, letters), 1920-1922

Viewing particular records with potential information on persons, I noted the following as providing the most interesting genealogical data:

- Polish colony, call # 6: 1919 index of gravestones of participants in the 1863 Insurrection; index of school pupils in Czyta; index of Chilka's inhabitants; chronological register of personal law intervension papers from the town of Chilk; the same as above, but from the town of Czyta; a large number of personal letters applying for Polish citizenship and Polish passports (the letters were written mainly in Polish and Russian, but there were some in English, French and Chinese);

- call # 9: index of 101 inhabitants of Polish nationality, for instance: Pawel Kroszewski, born 12 Jan 1867 in Sochaczew, Warsaw district, came to Harbin 4 Jan 1919; Wilhelm Hampf, born 26 Oct 1866 in Lance, Kozle county, Opole district, holding a Russian passport; and Teofil Smolenski, born 1896 in Nowawies, Plock county, came to Harbin 29 Jan 1919

- call # 8: index of Poles who lived in China and applied for Polish citizenship. In the next issue I will list all of these registered as of 6 December 1918. There were people of different religions: Roman Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Evangelical-Lutheran, and Jewish. Particularly interesting was an American passport I found, the only one in the mountains of files: Stella M. James, born 25 June 1879 in Carlton, Minnesota, married Polish citizen Michal Mraczka 7 March 1920 in Tienstsinte.

- call # 27: certificates of Poles' relocation; surname index of 135 soldiers of the former 5th Division of the Polish Army who came to Harbin after having been taken prisoner by the Bolsheviks; index of inhabitants
waiting for relocation; index of former Austrian captives; index of other soldiers and officers who lived in Harbin; index of Polish soldiers' families

- call number 30-31 of Polish Consulate: contains many personal letters applying for Polish passports and return tickets to Poland

Of the indexes of persons I found in these records, the most interesting was this one, which had photographs and short descriptions of family history, social position, etc. I’ve given the information as best I could read it, without attempting to correct errors, even though some of the place names are clearly wrong. Most entries give first and last names, date and place of birth; many also indicate religion.

Registry Office provided by Polish National Commitee for Russia and Siberia (excluding Manchuria), dated 6 December 1918

Aleksandrowicz, Antoni – b 26 Jun 1887 in Wilno
Angleitner, Józef – b 1875 in Dąbrowa, Livi [? Liw or Lwów] district
Beljacki Paweł – 24 Feb 1883 in Wilno
Bielawski, Chyzy – 9 Sep 1888 in Kutno, Jewish (he was in the American army from 1904 and came to China as a soldier in 1917)
Boguszewski, Wiktor – 22 Dec 1882, in Zwierzyniec, Lublin, Roman Catholic
Brick, Izaak – b 13 Sep 1881 in Brzeżany
Cudzidło, Walenty – b 1882 in Majdan, Sandomierz district
Dabek, Bogumił – 1860 in Łódź, Roman Catholic
Dukalski, Donat – 1881, his parents from Warsaw, Roman Catholic
Falk, Alberg – b 25 Feb 1875 in Tarnopol, Jewish
Fegia, Geber – 1890 in Warsaw, Jewish
Gregori, Eugeniusz – 14 May 1882 in Druskienniki; wife Katarzyna, maiden name Osminina, b 17 Apr 1890 in Krunsztat, Greek Catholic
Gronczewski, Józef – 19 Mar 1844 in Dujnowie (Duninowskie), Włocławek county, Roman Catholic
Gunter, Antoni – b 1891 in Witkowice, Cieszyn county, Śląsk province, Roman Catholic
Hampt, Paweł – 26 Oct 1866 in Łańce, Koźle county
Hellman, Felicja – 9 Jul 1904 in Kalisz, Jewish
Horowic, Henryk – March 1868 in Wajgowa, Wilno
Jankowska, Klara Berta – 24 Dec 1873 in Zabrze, Górny Śląsk province
Juszkiewicz, Bernard – b 1889 in Bereziki
Katz, Izak – b 15 Dec 1887 in Wiszenka, Lwów province
Kisielewski, Leonard – 1 May 1888 in Warsaw
Kiwa, Karol – 5 May 1882 in Białystok
Kobylski, Walenty – 19 Jan 1867 in Bielawy, Medrychow [sic—Międzychód?] county, Poznań, Roman Catholic
Koper, Jozef – 19 Mar 1885 in Kutno, school in Kraków, Roman Catholic
Korpit, Jerzy – 5 Dec 1884 in Warsaw, Jewish
Kowalczuk, Jan – 20 Sep 1894 in Kowal, Wołyń. His father was Ukrainian, mother Polish nationality.
Kowalski, Mieczysław – 16 Apr 1892 in Warsaw, Roman Catholic
Kraszewski, Paweł – born 12 Jan 1867 in Sochaczew
Kukol, Adam – 16 Jun 1889 in Urzgolow, Wilepsk [? Witebsk] province, his wife Maria Skradelska, Roman Catholic
Łęczycka, Józefa – 26 Feb 1890 in Częstochowa, Roman Catholic
Lenkowska, Bronisława – 15 May 1897 in Szydłowiec, Roman Catholic
Lesiak, Jędrzej – born in 1891 in BiaŁymin
Ługowska, Katarzyna Alicja, b 24 Jan 1895 in Tienstsin, Roman Catholic
Ługowski, Paweł Michał – b 1897 in Charkow, Roman Catholic
Ługowski, Wiktor Julian – 12 Jul 1904 in Tienstsin, China, Roman Catholic
Malinowski, Paweł – 20 Jan 1875 in Nowemiasto, Łomża county, Greek Catholic
Markus, Maria – maiden name Heiman, 2 Jan 1890 in Kalisz, Jewish
Michalewska-Korczak, Kamila Izabella – 18 Sep 1899 in Kronianka, Tarnopol county [now Ternopil’, Ukraine], Roman Catholic
Mieszkowski, Piotr – 25 Dec 1883 in Wierzbalow [sic], Roman Catholic
Mincer, Adela Agnieszka – 15 Dec 1897 in Lwów, Roman Catholic
Moszkowski, Jerzy – 18 Dec 1893 in Warsaw, Roman Catholic
Mraczek, MichaŁ – 29 Mar 1894 in Gorze town, in Solaryncja [sic] . His father Robert was from Ostrów, Poznań district, mother Klara Paczek from Górny Śląsk [Upper Silesia]
Mraczek, Stella – 25 Jun 1874 in Carlton, Minnesota, wife of Michał
Passek, Wilhelm – b 1877 in Jasień, Opole county, Evang.
Pezold, Franciszek Józef – 1873 in Poznań, Dutch Kingdom [sic]
Płociński, Janisław Wacław – 15 Feb 1873 in Kraków, Roman Catholic
Polony, Mikołaj – 4 Oct 1875, Siedlce area
Reihor, Henryk – b 25 Jun 1879 in Lwów, Jewish
Reszysz, Natan – 19 Jun 1894 in Głembokie, Wilno, Jewish
Rieger, Samuel, b 18 Mar 1883 – Pole from Austrian partition
Rojter, Izrael – 1 Oct 1885 in Ostrołęka, Jewish
Sikorska, Helena – b 1897 in Charków, Orthodox church
Sikorski, Jerzy Ludomir – b 1888 in Warsaw, Roman Catholic
Skabielka, Bronislaw – b 1887 in Zeludek, Suwałki district, Wilno province
Skarbowska, Maria Klara – 24 Dec 1873 in Bogucice, Warsaw Kingdom [sic], Roman Catholic
Skarbowski, August Józef – b 25 Oct 1868 in Jasło, Roman Catholic
Smoleński, Teofil – b ... ? in Nowawieś, Płock district
Snarska, Aleksandra, maiden name Czernych – b 1885 in Blagowie, Szczensko district, Siberia
Snarski, Karol – 2 Jan 1872 in Kowno
Sokulska, Maria – 1881 in Bytom, Śląsk, Roman Catholic
Sokulski, Antoni Stanisław – 11 June 1873
Starkowski, Antoni – 30 May 1889 in Prague (Czechoslovakia), parents came from Poznań Kingdom [sic], he lived in Lwów, now in Peking; wife Nadzieja, son Stanisław b 1919
Stungut, Anna – 4 Feb 1896 in Kowno
Stungut, Feliks Szczesny – 18 Jul 1890 in Rosjany, Roman Catholic
Szambelan, Wacław – 1890, born 25 July 1890 in Czeluścien, Poznań district
Szejer, Mojżesz – b 13 Nan [?] 1891 in Zalucz, Jewish
Szpruck, Izja Males – 1 Apr 1889 in Dolina, Stryj county, Jewish
Szwarzberg, Jankel – b 1878 in Lublin
Tarasiuk, Eugenia – 20 July 1896 in Podlasie region, daughter of Antoni and Katarzyna, Greek-Catholic
Typer, Józef – 6 Apr 1888 in Przecław, Mielec county, Roman Catholic
Wierzbicka, Izabella Zofia Ludwika, b 1887 in Stara Wieś, Kutno county
Xiegowska, Luisa – b 1876 in Szem-Dze, Roman Catholic
Zalucki, Franciszek – son of Grzegorz, 3 May 1880 in Żytomiersk, Roman Catholic
Zontkowski, Jan – 26 Jan 1882 in Złoczów, Roman Catholic

Note that I did not collect data on all the Jews listed, as there were too many of them. I just wanted to show that the Poles living in this area were of different religions, not just Roman Catholics but also Greek Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. I have also ordered copies of some of these papers—an index of Polish soldiers from Manchuria, an index of their families, plus examples of other registers, school papers, passport applications, and so on. If members are interested, I may work on further articles on this subject.

This is a "list of members of the families of officers, officials, and soldiers of the economic enclave as of 3 April 1920 who are leaving for the homeland" [Poland]. The first column lists "Who wishes to take his family back"—the name and rank of the soldier, official, or officer—and the second column lists "Those whom he wishes to take back to the homeland"—wives, children, etc,


This is a sample of a school record. In this case the student was Konstanty Lech, son of StanisŁaw Lech, a master road builder, of Russian citizenship, born 20 December 1911 at "st. Macorszan" [?]. The only comment [Uwaga] is that he has some problems with the Polish language. At the right is a list of his grades: he did well to very well in his religion class, not so well in his Polish class.

Iwona Dakiniewicz, Łódź, Poland genealogy@pro.onet.pl

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Last Updated on July 6, 2017