The Structure and Main Activities of the Cracow Branch of the National Repatriation Office (1944 -1951)
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The National Repatriation Office (PUR), functioning between 1944 and 1951, was in charge of repatriation of Polish nationals and mass transfers of ethnic Poles from territories taken over by the Soviet Union. PUR officials had an exceptionally broad spectrum of competencies and responsibilities. These included looking after adequate sanitary conditions of the transports and supplying the new arrivals with food, ration cards, etc.; piloting the return of Poles evicted from their homes in those parts of Poland that had been incorporated into the German Reich in 1939; and, organizing the migration of millions of Poles from the Polish heartland and from abroad to the former German territories in the west and the north. From its headquarters in Lodz teams of PUR officials went to open regional offices in the new Polish territories as soon as the front moved further west. At the same time a network of PUR branches sprang up in the main cities of Poland's 'old' voivodships. The Cracow Branch of the PUR, established on 1 February 1945, was to coordinate the operations of the so-called staging posts and regional repatriation offices in the Cracow Voivodship. Until their close-down in 1951 the offices of the Cracow Branch processed a total of between 1.5 and 2m people, most of that number in 1945-1946. The Cracow Branch not only managed the migration streams in the region but also looked after the sanitary conditions, relief work, and assistance to migrans moving into new homes. As the country was plagued by shortages and lawlessness (exacerbated by political tensions connected with the communist takeover of power) the normal functioning of any public institution in the first post-war years could hardly be taken for granted. Yet, in retrospect there can be little doubt that the PUR was remarkably successful in accomplishing the task for which it was created.
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