The 1932 population register


Frontpage of the 1932 population register of Lubartów, © Archiwum Państwowe w Lublinie

Local authorities produced registers of the Lubartów population at the end of the nineteenth century, after independence in 1918, and once again in 1932. These population registers (Rejestr mieszkancow), which are located in the Lublin archives, list all inhabitants apartment by apartment, indicating the age and religion for each. More exceptionally, the population register for 1932 records the movements of each individual up to 1951, indicating for example the date and place of destinations (Warsaw and Lublin but also Paris, Buenos Aires, Cuba, Costa Rica, etc.), along with other information. It also mentions the deportation of the Jews who were arrested in Lubartów in April 1942 and sent to the Belzec extermination camp. These registers therefore offer a remarkable starting-point for our research, as they make it possible to assess the status of the population in 1932, as well as to track various population movements.

The Legal Framework

In 1932 it became compulsory for all persons residing in Poland to declare a place of residence. The new regulation was first announced by President Ignacy Mościcki, and then introduced by the Polish government. The presidential ordinance stated that everyone living on Polish territory had to be registered in the public records, with different registers intended for permanent and temporary residents. People’s movements also had to be reported and recorded. With the introduction of new registration rules, the authorities gained a tool for precise control over the movement of their population, whereas earlier registers kept in Polish territory were primarily used to monitor the number of inhabitants. Gminas (towns or municipalities), which represented the third level of administrative division in interwar Poland—after voivodeships (provinces) and powiats (counties or districts)—were entrusted with implementing the registration process and updating the registers.

In interwar Poland, the town of Lubartów, located in the center of the country in the Lublin region, formed a separate municipal gmina. In accordance with the new regulation, in mid-1932 the town’s authorities started to register the local population and to control its movements. Everyone who stayed in Lubartów was considered a resident of the town, regardless of whether their stay was permanent or temporary. Under the new law, a permanent resident was anyone who had personal or economic affairs in the gmina, while a temporary resident was anyone dwelling there with no intention of staying permanently. As a result, one could be a permanent resident of only one gmina at a time. People who were traveling or working seasonally—or serving as soldiers, officials, or staff in hospitals or prisons outside the designated gmina—remained registered as permanent residents of the gmina they came from, and became temporary residents of the gmina they were staying in.

The instructions sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in November 1930 offered detailed explanations of how gminas should complete and update the registers, which had to be established by July 1, 1932, and include the names of all residents living in the gmina. For newly arrived individuals, registration was mandatory within four days of arrival. Forms were collected by the head of household—one for each resident, both temporary and permanent—and later forwarded to the building owner, who checked the forms and submitted them to the gmina administration. Before adding an individual to the register, an officer double-checked the information against pre-existing records, which were usually stored in gmina’s offices. A name’s entry in a register was direct proof that this person was a resident of the gmina.

A Brief Description of the Lubartów Register

The register of permanent Lubartów residents includes 11,978 individuals, most of whom (7,300) were registered in June and July 1932, when the town’s administration created the register. The rest are people who moved to the town or were born in Lubartów in the following years. The last residents were added during the war, in May 1944. The register consists of 10 volumes of approximately 200 pages each, with one page reserved for each household. The multi-apartment buildings common in Lubartów were added to the register street by street in alphabetical order: the register thus begins with Annoborska Street and ends with Zabia street. These volumes were supplemented by an alphabetical index of names including everyone appearing in the register.

A single register page is divided into 18 columns containing all kinds of information relating to residents. Basic information such as surnames, parents’ names, and dates and places of birth are followed by other information describing one’s social situation: status in the household, profession, faith, marital and military status, and possibly citizenship. Another set of information concerns eventual mobilities: previous places of residence, date of arrival and registration in Lubartów, as well as the next place of residence and date of departure. This part of the register connect with the books of population movements, which offer additional details in this regard (reflecting the complete procedure for moving, which required the two gminas to exchange several forms). The seventeenth column lists the criminal record of residents, while the final column is left for general comments by the officers who completed the register, such as places of temporary residence, restrictions of electoral rights, etc.

Sample page from the 1932 register, © Archiwum Państwowe w Lublinie

A Mirror of Lubartów’s Social History

The register is intrinsically dynamic, as Lubartów initiated the register in 1932 and continued to use it until the early 1950s. Different officials added new entries, notes and corrections, as can be seen through the presence of different colors of ink, types of pencil, and handwriting. The register’s pages mirror the social dynamics of Lubartów. Over the course of several years, officials followed changes to the town’s population and social structure. Like newcomers, newborns also had to be included, and individuals who married were linked together in the registry. Residents that changed their place of residence within Lubartów were moved from one page of the register to another, with their new household address. People who left Lubartów permanently or died were simply crossed out from the register.

Triplets with their mother at the Lubartów hospital (ca 1930) © Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe.

The register was run by the municipal administration that served under three different political regimes. Created during the Second Republic of Poland, in 1939 the register was kept by the administration that occupied Lubartów, and was later taken over by postwar Polish municipal officials in the mid-1940s. While the interwar central administration designed the register to serve its own administrative purposes, it remained useful for successive political regimes; during the war it was used by the municipality to keep track of residents, and was also used in ways not originally intended, such as when wartime officials registered specific information about the deportations of Jews in 1942, or added references to the Kennkarte (German IDs) assigned to the local population. The number of newly registered residents gradually decreased during the war, falling from 222 in 1942 to 50 in 1943, and to just one in 1944. The same trend can be observed in another registry from Lubartów created by the German administration. The postwar administration used the 1932 register to an even lesser extent, as neither newborns nor newcomers were added to the register after 1945.

The register of permanent Lubartów residents is an exceptional source that allows social historians to track every inhabitant of the city within their familial, professional, and neighborly environment. It also provides researchers with key information to reconstruct the migration—and more generally the social trajectories—of individuals and families in the turbulent period of the 1930s, the Second World War, and the installation of the communist regime in Lubartów.