This article discusses the dissemination and prevalence of banditry from the early to mid-1920s in the north-eastern region of the Second Republic of Poland, primarily in the provinces of Wilno, Białystok, Nowogródek, and Polesie.
This article will firstly offer a historical background regarding the area in question as a means of contextualizing the later analytical portion. It will then move on to discuss the historiography of banditry in the borderland region has been largely overshadowed by partisan literature covering the Second World War in Belarus. This will be followed by a brief description focusing on proponents and critics of Eric Hobsbawm’s analytical framework that has been utilized to study banditry the world over. Having examined the historical and theoretical background, the focus will shift to banditism, its relationship to the state, and bandits’ identities.
It will then highlight one infamous example, Ataman Mucha, as a case study of how locals perceived bandits. Using material from archives in Maladečna, Hrodna, and Minsk, as well as local papers from the early 1920s taken from the Academy of Sciences Library in Minsk, this paper will use bandits as a lens to flesh out a perspective that can contribute to our understanding of this region. Furthermore, with a focus on the post-war period, it seeks to question the ‘beginning’ and ‘ends’ of war and bring attention to the nuances periodization may ignore.