Paranoia and Conspiracy: Polish Exiles and the Omsk Affair



Throughout its existence tsarist Russia exiled various national and ethnic groups, yet Poles accounted by far for the largest non-Russian cohort among Siberian exiles. The relationship between Poles and Siberia dates to the early seventeenth century, when as prisoners of war they were among the first persons exiled there, mostly to be assigned to Cossack detachments. The Seven Years War and successive partitions of Poland resulted in new rounds of exiles, so that by the late eighteenth century several exilic Polish communities existed in the Altai and Zabaikal’e. Following defeat of the Confederation of Bar in 1772 Catherine II deported 5,000 Poles who served in the Siberian military before being allowed to return home.1 Poles captured from Napoleon’s Grande Armée were assigned to Kazan, Samara, Saratov, Ufa, and Orenburg.2 In 1813–14 some 900 captured Polish cavalrymen were assigned to the Siberian Cossacks. When Alexander I allowed them to return home in 1815 only “160 men were still voluntarily serving in the Cossacks,” writes S. V. Maksimov. As for the rest,


State Crime Western Province Secret Society Omsk Oblast State Criminal 
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© Andrew A. Gentes 2010

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