ECONOMIC NATIONALISATION IN THE ANNEXED EASTERN TERRITORIES OF THE SECOND REPUBLIC (1939-1941)
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In the wake of the annexation of the Polish eastern territories by the Red Army in 1939, and the establishment of temporary councils, 'national property' was entrusted to the 'protection' of the new authorities. Already during the first stage of the occupation republican Party and administrative bodies of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic and the Byelorussian Socialist Soviet Republic prepared lists of enterprises to be nationalised. 'Sessions' held by the People's Assemblies of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia (the end of October 1939) announced that all land, forests, rivers and lakes were to become state property. They also proclaimed a nationalisation of banks, large industry, mines and the railway. For all practical purposes, the nationalisation of factories and enterprises had been inaugurated already at the end of September 1939 and lasted until the spring of 1940. Nationalisation encompassed all, not only 'large' enterprises, including communal ones, and thus was much wider than the range indicated 'by the will of the people' expressed in the resolutions passed by the People's Assemblies. Alltold, some 4 000 industrial enterprises were nationalised. Cooperatives and the crafts were gradually included into the system of the Soviet artels. State and cooperative banks were taken over just as rapidly. The liquidation of private trade was carried out gradually, to the spring of 1941, and was associated with a simultaneous creation of a state trade network. Finally, nationalisation also embraced the health service, insurance companies, the railway and communication. The same model of nationalisation was applied in the region of Vilno, annexed by the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940. Political decisions made 'at the top' led to the appropriation of property in the occupied territories of the Second Republic by resorting to administrative methods, repression and various forms of pressure used in relation to private owners. Nationalisation proved to be rather uncomplicated since in contrast to other parts of the country the Polish eastern territories did not represent concentrated economic potential. The value of the appropriated (lost) property is inestimable.
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