In 1919, the new Polish government asked members of the Religious Society of Friends to help stop an outbreak of typhus. The epidemic was caused by refugees who brought it with them when they returned to claim their farmland after World War I. During the war, many farmers and villagers had hastily evacuated the countryside when Germans advanced into the area, devastating large parts and turning them into battlefields. The people who owned the land had fled to the east to parts of Russia.