The Evacuation of the Customs Administration from the Kingdom of Poland to Russia in 1914
Keywords:customs administration, Kingdom of Poland, evacuation, Russian Empire, office personnel
The customs administration in the Kingdom of Poland operated mainly in the borderlands. After the Triple Alliance was formed, it became obvious that both the German Empire and Austria-Hungary could be potential adversaries of Russia. The state administration in the Kingdom of Poland would be the most vulnerable to possible military conflicts. In the early 1890s, initial attempts were made to design evacuation protocols. The works continued until 1913 when they reached completion. In accordance with these guidelines, the customs administration was evacuated between July and August 1914. Customs offices and their personnel, along with their families, were transported further inland where they were supposed to await the positive outcome of the war, which, in contrast to expectations, never occurred. The way in which the evacuation of institutions managing the empire’s western land border was planned and carried out raises several specific and more general questions. The authors focus on the approach to evacuation emphasizing its deliberate character, privileges of the hierarchy of officials, approach to archives, as well as the implementation itself and its effectiveness. Further on, the issue of planning the return of the Russian administration to these territories arose, which could be perceived as real belief in victory. The reconstruction of the subject of research is developed with reference to numerous archival sources from the archives of Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia, as well as printed sources: legislation, official departmental publications, and press articles. The work uses or refers to all the literature on the subject that deserves attention. As a result of the analysis of the planning, evacuation, and operation processes in Russia of the examined structures, it can be concluded that the plans were implemented quite accurately and effectively. The authors draw this conclusion after many years of research on the operation and evacuation of other Russian offices of the Kingdom of Poland. These evacuation customs offices operated in a limited number, waiting for the end of the war, but ironically, while escaping from an external enemy, they fell into the hands of an internal one as they served the Bolsheviks in creating their “instruments of power”.
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