Every year before All Saints’ Day, there is a review of memorial sites and the arrangement of forest cemeteries and individual graves in the Polish forests. The backwoods hide many graves that, apart from foresters, are visited by a handful of people today. However, there is a need to remember that those graves are also part of Polish cultural heritage.
/credits to the archive of the National Forests – District Jarosław
The First War claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the Carpathians. Only in the forests of the Komańcza Forest District, there are 17 cemeteries from that period, some of them have only recently been identified and marked with crosses. Last year, a war cemetery was established on Manyłowa Mount in the Baligród Forest District, where hundreds of soldiers from fighting armies died during World War I, and were buried in mass graves, often shallowly dug due to the then harsh winter. The area of the cemetery covers several kilometers of the hill. This year new graves appeared, in which the remains of exhumed war victims were buried.
For several years, foresters from the Podkarpacie Province have introduced a custom that graves in forest cemeteries cannot be decorated with artificial flowers, candles, or lanterns. On forest graves, foresters place only a fir twig with a biodegradable ribbon with the inscription “We remember”.
“It is worth disseminating such less invasive proofs of memory, especially eliminating artificial flowers and candles littering the forest”, said Marek Marecki, Director of RDSF in Krosno.
In the territory of RDSF in Krosno, there are 53 war cemeteries from both world wars, 4 Roman Catholic cemeteries, 27 Eastern Rite cemeteries, 4 Jewish cemeteries, 15 cholera cemeteries, 96 collective and individual graves. The places of former burials are also often marked by forest chapels (so far 222 have been counted), as well as 246 penitential or votive crosses. Probably many graves still remain unidentified and forgotten.
— Lasy Państwowe (@LPanstwowe) October 29, 2022
This year, the Brzozów Forest District, together with the Polish Forest Society, has prepared memory branches, which were placed on the graves of 21 foresters, located in 12 cemeteries within the range of the forest inspectorate’s operation. These are the graves of former field and office employees of the Brzozów and Sanok Forest Divisions, but also of employees of other forest divisions and the Forest Research Institute in Warsaw, buried in this area. They are also the resting places of foresters who fought for their homeland during the January Uprising and World War II.
This year, the forest inspectorate also repaired the road leading to the old Jewish cemetery in Brzozów-Zdrój and the place of the execution of Jews in 1942 in the Brzozów forest.
This year, the local government restored the graves of Jews murdered in the Błudna forest in the Barwinek forestry in the area of the Dukla Forest District. In turn, the Teodorówka Together Association, in cooperation with the Forest Inspectorate, carried out a project to restore the memorial site – the choleric cemetery, located in the Franków forestry in the village of Teodorówka. Information boards were prepared, the access route was marked with signposts on the posts, and the outline of the grave – the burial mound – was refreshed. Those who died during the epidemic of cholera in 1848 are buried there. The kurgan is surrounded by beautiful Douglas firs trees. The foresters also cleaned and tidied up the surroundings of the place where the soldier of the Polish Army, the so-called “Żołnierza’s Tomb” which is located in the Popardy forest complex in the Cergowa Forest District. In 2019, at the initiative of the Regional Historical Society in Rivne, renovation works were carried out on the grave.
In the Mielec Forest District, in the area of the Szydłowiec forestry, near the village of Przyłęk, there are graves from the period of World War II. A person of Jewish origin, shot by the Germans, was buried in a single grave near the forester’s lodge. In turn, soldiers, most likely Germans or Russians, were buried in five graves located in the hollow. Jews were buried there too. Mielec foresters surrounded both places with a wooden fence and look after them together with children from the Primary School in Przyłęk. In 2017, people associated with the Historical Club “Truth and Memory” placed tombstones on these graves. In addition, in the area of the Malinie forestry, there is a grave of Russian soldiers, which is looked after by a local forester, cleaning the place around and the grave itself, and leaving a fir branch of memory. Fir branches tied with an occasional ribbon are placed every year by employees of the forest inspectorate at the graves of their deceased colleagues. The graves of the Szafer family in the parish cemetery in Mielec are also visited.
On Thursday, October 27, a delegation of employees of the Sieniawa Forest Inspectorate went to cemeteries in nearby towns, as well as to mid-forest graves, to tidy up the graves and pay tribute to the deceased foresters and people associated with the forest. The cemeteries in Sieniawa, Cieplice, Krasny, and Rudka were visited. They were also in Majdan Sieniawski, Cewków, Mołodycz, Radawa, Tryń and Jarosław.
There are numerous memorial sites in the Kołaczyce Forest District. In the Bierówka forestry: an obelisk in memory of the inhabitants of Sieklówka who were shot in 1944, a partisan’s grave, a memorial to soldiers of the Polish army and civilians, and a cemetery for the victims of World War II. In the Bieździedz forestry: a soldier’s grave from World War I (on the plate the inscription “Marian from near Tarnow”) and a collective grave from World War II, burial of Jews and Romani people. On the other hand, the forests of the Pagorzyna District hide a wooden cross with a hard-to-determine history. In the Węglówka forestry, two World War I cemeteries are looked after, and in the Odrzykoń forestry – two cholera cemeteries from the mid-19th century.
Foresters from the Dynów Forest District visited the burial places of the deceased workers in the Dynów cemetery, where they laid symbolic forest bouquets. A forest bundle was also placed on the grave of “Unknown Soldiers”.
/credits to the archive of the National Forests – District Jarosław
In the Ustrzyki Dolne Forest Inspectorate, in preparation for All Saints’ Day, as every year, foresters started the cleaning works on the graves located in the Stefkowa, Wańków, and Zawadka forest districts. In addition, symbolic candles with a fir branch and a ribbon of memory were prepared, which will be put on the 74 graves of deceased employees of the forest inspectorate and those who worked for the State Forests.
As in previous years, members of the Polish Forest Society, operating in the Komańcza Forest District, remembered about the deceased former foresters working in the local forests. For the upcoming Day of the Dead, 40 bouquets were prepared and delivered to the graves of foresters in 12 cemeteries within the range of the forest inspectorate. The action of tidying up war forest cemeteries (there are more than 10 cemeteries in the forests in the district inspectorate) is also carried out. It should be noted that within the number of 40 graves, 4 are the graves of foresters working in this area before the war, and 6 are the graves of foresters – veterans who fought for Poland during World War II.
As every year, memorials, chapels, and forest crosses have been cleaned up in the area of the Kolbuszowa Forest District. There are 61 such sites in the forest district. In addition, a commemorative twig was placed on 64 graves of deceased workers.
At the end of October, employees of the Jarosław Forest Inspectorate tidied up the Great War cemetery, where almost 450 soldiers are buried. The staff of the Łapajówka forestry with great care brought the cemetery to the condition it deserves. Moreover, the local forester of the Bór forestry arranged the grave of the partisan who took part in the Action “Jula”. This action consisted of three attacks on the German supply lines on the eastern front – three bridges were blown up: near Rogoźno, Trycza, and Nowosielce.
On October 27, foresters from the Lesko Forest District traditionally cleaned up mass graves and war-time execution sites. Removed burned candles, leaves, and rubbish from these places. The twigs of memory were put together.
Krasiczyn Forest District – this year, they managed to mow the grass, clean and tidy up the area of the former cemetery of the non-existent village of Berendowice in the Kormanice forestry and at the memorial site for those murdered by the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), including Franciszek Podlach – the forester of Celinów.
Cisna Forest District – field workers cleaned up the cemeteries at the former Orthodox churches in the following forest districts: Habkowce, Solinka, Jaworzec, and Zawój. Necessary cleanup was done around them, grass and weeds were mowed, rubbish was cleaned and removed, and damaged fences were repaired. 35 commemorative fir twigs with a ribbon tied with a commemorative ribbon were prepared and distributed to the graves of foresters in three cemeteries in Cisna, Wetlina, and Baligród, and 4 churches.
This year, employees of the Lutowiska forest inspectorate visited seven cemeteries where foresters and forest workers are buried. Twigs with an occasional ribbon were placed on their graves. The forest inspectorate also takes care of two cemeteries located in the no longer existing villages of Hulskie and Tworylne. These cemeteries have been fenced and are mowed twice a year. The employees of the forest inspectorate also look after the graves of soldiers who died in bloody fights during World War I on the slopes of Dwernik-Kamień and Otryt. A few years ago, human bones were discovered in the Tworylczyk forestry. As it turned out, it was a mass grave of soldiers who also fought in World War I. A commemorative cross was erected in this place. Commemorative fir branches are placed in all these places. There were 177 of them in total.
The Oleszyce forestry inspectorate also tidied up forest cemeteries and graves by putting together symbolic bunches. They also appeared in the Katyn Forest of Foresters, symbolizing the people of the forest murdered by the NKVD.
The foresters from the Tuszyma Forest District laid flowers at the memorial grave in the Sokole Forest District at the site of the murder of the Home Army soldier Józef Wałek (“Żbik”).