Iaroslav Isaievych

Ukrainians, Poles and Jews. 1772-1918

For Austrians and Poles, the word "Galicia generally refers to the former Habsburg province Konigreich Galizien und Lodomerien, the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. this province existed from 1772 until 1918 (1). Some polish historians define this land as byla Galicja - the former Galicia. Thus, for them, Galicia does not exist any more, except in the world of reminiscences and myths. The Galizienmythos found its creative expression in contemporary Polish literature, but, notably, it did not develop in Ukrainian literature because for Ukrainians Galicia is a living, continuing phenomenon.

The Austrian province of Galizien und Lodomerien was a conglomerate of predominantly Ukrainian Eastern Galicia and of Polish Western Galicia. In this form, the province of Galicia existed for only 146 years. Before and after that period, the name Galicia referred to the Ukrainian part of the province. The principality of Halych was founded in the mid-twelfth century. Its territory was thereafter named the "Land of Halych", "Halychyna" or, in the Latinished version, "Galicia"> after the name of its capital, the city of Halych (in Latin, Galicia). For Ukrainians, Galicia (Eastern) is not only a historical but also a geographical term. It is one of the Ukrainian regions, which has not only its history but also its present-day problems and its future. In this paper, I will use the word "Galicia" in its narrower, geographical meaning, and I will refer to the Austrian crownland as the province of Galicia or the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.

Historians who use the term "Galicia" in a different sense do not always provide a clear explanation of their terminology. For example, in a collection of articles "Galizien um die Jahrhundertwende", almost all the articles are devoted to Western Galicia and to the Plish institutions of Eastern Galicia (2). On the other hand, in some memoirs and travelogues, the word "Galicia" means mainly Eastern Galicia (3).

Everything that differentiated the province of Galicia from Western Austrian provinces was much more sharply expressed in the Eastern part of the province. Eastern Galicia, far more than Western Galicia, was an intersection for many cultures and traditions. For Joseph Roth, Lviv (Lemberg) was ein hunter Fleck, but Cracow was "less Austrian" and remained only a museum of Polish national culture (4). Poles considered themselves to be a bulwark ("antemurale") of Western Christianity, while most Ukrainian writers, artists and scholars treated the Ukrainian culture as a kind of synthesis of East and West. The Buntheit (diversity) so appreciated by Joseph Roth was determined mostly by the Ukrainian majority in the villages and the Jewish majority in the shtetls (5). Uneducated Ukrainians and Jews retained certain cultural features which led early Austrian travellers and, later, Karl Emil Franzos to a perception if Galicia as Halb-Asien/ Of course, such a perception depended heavily on the criteria and cultural background of the authors. In our times, Stanislaw Vincenz poeticised the Galician Hutsuls as a tribe of noble savages (resembling, in a way, the Indians of Fenimore Cooper and his followers), while his younger contemporary Gregor von Rezzori referred to a Hutsul woman as being "hardly more than a beast" (6). There is little doubt that the colourful diversity writers who wroteon Galicia were influenced by material emanating from the Eastern half of the province. The Galizienmythos appears to be, above all, an Ostgalizienmythos (7).

Because of its many distinctive features, the history of Eastern Galicia can be studied also as an independent historial problem. From medieval times, besides its indigenous Ukrainian population, (Eastern) Galicia had large ethnic and religious minorities. In the late eighteenth century, however, when the Austrian authorities began to get acquainted with newly acquired province, they noticed its social stratification and religious divisions rather than its ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity.At that time, ethnic identities, which had a long tradition in the region, were perceived almost exclusively as religious identities. As elsewhere, Jews were identified with adherents of Judaism. Ukrainians, known as Ruthenians, were Catholics of Byzantine rite (or Greek Catholics, according to terminology first introduced by Austrians). Except for clergy and the few craftsmen and lay intellectuals, the vast majority of Ukrainians, and therefore also the absolute majority of the population, lived in villages and were serfs. For this reason, their language and faith were despised by other groups as characteristicaly "peasant" features. Poles were Catholics of Latin rite, but in their case there was also a social determinant. Not only Ukrainians but also Polish peasants of Western Galicia called their hated landlords "Poles", notwithstanding the act that were comparatively numerous Polish caftsmen and civil servants.

Agrarian reforms in the late eighteenth century contributed to the emergence of the image of the good Emperor who defends the common people against their oppressors. After the abolition of serfdom in 1848, this became a widespread myth, although the agrarian reform was aesult of agrarian unrest rather than the Emperor's benevolence and, essentialy, was intented to preserve as much as possible of the supermacy of the gentry.

By modernising the school system throughout the Empire, the Austrian authorities hoped to educate loyal subjects and consolidate the state on the foundation of the Garman language and enlightened culture that would be common to all parts of the Empire. Initially, this goal seemed to be attainable, but ultimately better education contributed to the emergence of natioally-orientated elites and opened the way for modern political ideas which finally brought about the weakening of Austrian centralism. Still, during the revolution of 1848, the Ukrainian national movement, steered mostly by clergymen and manned by peasants, developed under the slogan of loyalty to the Empire. In contrast, revolutionary factions that postulated a disintegration of the Empire developed among the Poles, who demanded the restoration of the historical Poland (8). In the 1860s, however, the imperial government transferred control of administration in Galicia from the Austrian bureaucrats to the Polish magnates and nobility. This was achieved by the introduction of an autonomy based on on electoral privileges of the nobility. Thus there is much truth in the claims of leftist historiography that the Austrian ruling aristocracy felt more solidarity with seditious Polish nobles than with kaisertreu peasants (9).

Although political power was under the control of the Polish gentry and its political allies, the constitution provided a framework for the continuous growth of Ukrainian and Jewish national movements. Among Ukrainians, the first to gain were so-called Russophiles. Their initial success was largely due to Ukrainians' feeling of betrayal after the Austrians permitted those who conspired against the Emperor to rule over those who had remained loyal. Conservative Russophile clergymen felt much more solidarity with the tsar's monarchic order than with Ukrainian peasant-based national trends. When Polonisation was perceived as a great danger, it seemed natural to see an ally in, the Orthodox state that ruled over the major part of Poland.

Neverrtheless, the upsurge of political Russophilism was temporary. In defiance of all efforts of the conservative aristocracies, democratisation of the political structures proceeded, making inevitable the steady advance of those nations and social groups which constituted a majority. The Ukrainian national movement could seek strenght only from the peasant masses, and because of that, it necessarily adopted a definite democratic character. It is well knowwn that the social antagonism between peasant and gentry largely overlapped with the national antagonism between Ukrainians and the political elite of the Polish ethnic community (10).

In the 1870s, the Ukrainian national movement was led mostly by secular activits, but it acquired mass character after the Greek Catholic clergy joined it on the parish level (11). Of course, within the clergy there were people of various orientations, but as a whole Catholicism of the Eastern rite was extremely well suited to become a Ukrainian national religion. Its Catholic allegiance differentiated Galician Ukrainians from Russian influences, while its Byzantine rite prevented Polonisation. Clergymen (priests and deacons) alongside teachers of Ukrainian origin were instrumental in founding reading rooms, cooperatives and sports societes, and even in organising political activities. In many cases, village priests showed more fervour in promoting the culture and economic interests of Ukrainians than in fulfilling their direct pastoral duties. According to John Paul Himka, this was, to some extent, a result of the Austrian secularised education of clergy: they were being taught to be civil servants, obedient to thestate, and eventually they transferred that loyalty to the national idea (12). In any case, the attitudes of the clergy show that national identity clearly prevailed over religion. Significantly, most of the Galician Greek Catholic intelligentsia fulli adopted the interpretation of religious conflicts in Ukraine as it was formulated by Ukrainian Orthodox writers and scholars from Eastern Ukraine. The acceptance of the Cossack heritage and, especially, the immense spiritual authority of the national bard Taras Shevchenko largely contributed to this phenomenon.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Galicia was the region with the highest level of Ukrainian national consiousness in all of Ukraine. Some historians attribute this only to favourable conditions in the Austrian Empire. As Andrei Markovits has written: "It was Habsburg rule that converted Galicia into Ukrainian Piedmont" (13). Without denying the importance of this, it should be pointed out that there were also other factors. The Bukovina was under Austrian rule just as long as Galicia. Nevertheless, the national consciousness of Bukovinian Ukrainians lagged behind that of Galicians. Among the causes of that phenomenon could be the lack of religious differences between Ukrainians and Romanians in the Bukovina as well as the existence in Galicia of a more advanced Polish national movement which served as a model for Ukrainians. Thus, several factors were instrumental in the Galician case, including the political conditions in Austria, the national orientation of Ukrainian clergy which, as we have already mentioned, was partially explained by the Austrian system of education and the Polish pressure which provoked a Ukrainian resistance.

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Ukrainians achieved notable success not only in the cultural but also in the economic field. Still, there remains a stereotype that the extreme backwardness and poverty of Galician peasants drove them to emigrate to America, allegedly because of the stagnation or decline of local economies. A Canadian historian, Stella Hryniuk, showed recently in her study of south-eastern Galician counties that, at least in this region, rural economy and culture were developing steadily, and emigrants were not recruited from the poorest strata of the peasantry. Surely, economic progress should be interpreted in two contexts, both as a result of the nationally-inspired activism of Ukrainians and as an example of an economic development within the Empire which was accommodating its traditional structures to the needs of a modern industrial society.

Simultaneously with the Ukrainian national revival in Eastern Galicia, the Polish political movement was also gaining momentum. Due to the support of the provincial administration and more favourable starting conditions, in many cases it enjoyed noticeable success. Althought there was a growing national consciousness among the Ukrainian masses, some persons were absorbed by the Polish community. The switch of allegiance was usually connected with a change of religious rite, but this cannot hide the fact the main incentives were national and social, not religious. There were some attempts at reconciliation between Polish and Ukrainian democrats and socialists, but eventually they failed because all Polish politicians, with the exception of the extreme left, postulated the revival of the Polish and Ukrainian democrats and socialists, but eventually they failed because all Polish politicians, with the exception of the extreme left, postulated the revival of the Polish state with its historical borders, or at least the inclusion of all Galicia in a future Poland. This programme, together with the social conflict between Ukrainian masses and Polish elites, contributed to the acuteness of the Polish-Ukrainian antagonism. Many Polish political writers believed that this antagonism was cunningly provoked or even "invented" by Austrian officials. In a broader perspective, this was not true. More often than not, the Austrian authorities were afraid of national conflicts but did not reconcile their routine policywith the task of promoting better inter-ethnic relations.

It is well known that neither the educational policies of the Austrian authorities, nor the Haskala (Enlightenment) movement, brought about as dramatic changes among galician Jews as were desired by reformers. It is true that some proponents of cultural assimilation were real fanatics. The most striking example is perhaps Karl Emil Franzos, who, in his enlightener's fervour, unconsciously transgressed a dividing line between German cultural nationalism and racism. Not only did he condemn French civilisation, but he also attributed Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's lack of German patriotism (which he saw in the latter's desire to create a specifically Austrian literature) to his half-Slavic origin! Neverthelles, the vast majority of shtelt dwellers adhered to their traditional way of life while remaining loyal subjects of the Empire. Only a relatively small minority of Jewish elites fully adopted German, or, later, Polish national identity.Polonising trends (including those connected with socialist activities) began to make more rapid progress in the last decades of the monarchy; however, at that time, they had to confront not only a dynamic Zionist movement but also a more general tendency to organise parties and societes according to ethnicity. Neverthelles, the overwhelming majority of Jews in Galicia retained their loyalty to the monarchy. If educated Jews in the western provinces identified their nationality as German, Jews of Galicia considered themselves to be Austrians rather than Germans. On the other hand, Jewish intellectual elites were attracted by the allegedly supranational character of the Empire, which seemed to correspond with the cultural heterogeneity of world Jewry at that time. It is symptomatic that, in his monograph Der Kampf um die osterreichische Identitat, Friedrich Heer devoted the epilogue to an Austrian "der nahezu alles war, was man als osterreichischer Patriot sein konnte" ("who was almost all that one could be as an Austrian patriot"). The man was Joseph Roth, originally a Galicjaner from Brody, who never forgot Galicia as his narrower "Urheimat" (14). At the same time, it is well known that even this "simbolic" Austrian was a person with strongly divided allegiances who eventually had to recognise the impossibility of saving the supranational state. The monarchy, as he felt, had to give way to the national that would be able to assure for their people the link with the heritage of their ancestors (15).

The spread of Ukrainian, Jewish, Polish and German associative movements in Galicia coincided with a general European upsurge of various associations, known in German-speaking countries as "Vereine". It this way, the formation of one civil society appeared impossible: instead of that, three competing civil societies emerged in Galicia by the end of the nineteenth century (16). This led to national autarchy and intensified inter-ethnic differences. Stil, in Austria, as in any other body politic, cultural integration proceeded, fostered, among other factors, by the development of modern industrialism and commerce. It is possible to quote innumerable examples of integration at the level of professional and popular culture. While traveling from Kiev to Rome by train, you would be impressed by the fact that the architecture of the best town houses in Pidvolochus'ka, the first former "Austrian" station on the eastern border of Galicia, is more similar to the architecture in the neightbourhood of Trieste than to the Ukrainian town of Volochys'ka across the river, which belonged to the Russian empire until the First World War. Until recently, in peasant houses in Galicia you could see the same wooden folding benches and painted decorative plates as in Moravia or Transilvania. In the sphere of literature and art, imperial Vienna was for Galician Ukrainians, Poles and Jews a principal "window to Europe" and a meeting place with intellectual elites of various nations and ethnic groups (17). Turning to politics, we will notice that sharply conflicting movements greatly influenced one another with respect to their ideologies and organisational forms.

In Soviet historical writing, one of the subjects favoured by the Party propaganda machine was praising any inter-Slavic cultural contacts in the past as steps in the right direction - towards creating a unified Russian-ruled Soviet nation. On the other hand, national historiographiers of the former Soviet states prefer to stress the disastrous effect of cultural homogenisation for the variety and richness of cultures. Such division along black-and-white lines occurs also in the Western studies dealing with the cultural situation and national conflicts within the Habsburg Empire. Some Ukrainian and Jewish historians deplore the Germanisation or Polonisation of their respective cultures. On the other hand, some Austrian and American historians hail the cross-fertilisation of cultures and civiling effects of the imperial policy. The former minimise the positive side of cultural openness, while the latter disregard the fact that cultural integration contributes to the uniformity of the cultural landscape, thus transforming bunte Flecken into graue Flecken. The contradictory concepts reflects the complexities of real life. It can be accepted, however, that the many cultural achievements of Galicians and their descendants can be attributed to the fact that neither of the rival trends - integrating and ethnocentric - could eliminate the other, and therefore their compertition could be beneficial for cultural creativity.

Sometimes historians ask whether Austria could have solved its internal national conflicts: in other words, whether Austrian political identity could have withstood the pressure of particular ethno-national identities. To prove the possibility of saving the monarchy, historians sometimes cite such facts as political compromises in Galicia and especially in the Bukovina just on the eve of the Great War. The validity of these arguments is dubious. The agreement in Galicia did not solve its social conflicts and did not assure any stable appeasement. The relative weakness of national conflicts in the Bukovina gives no ground to idealise the situation in that province, but merely reflects the fact that its principal ethnic communities were at the earlier stage of the nation-building process. Perhaps in the Empire as a whole an illusion that national conflicts could be solved in the framework of the Habsburg state was due to the fact that national conflicts had not yet reached their critical point, although they were moving in that direction (18).

Still, in Galicia on the eve of the First World War, for most people their diverse national identities did not eliminate the political loyalty to the Empire, personified in the image of a good old Emperor. Roth's story about the burial of the Emperor's statue by a cosmopolitan count and three humble craftsmen - Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian - reflects the mood of people in Galicia. The veneration of FRANZ JOSEPH by Jews is documented by various sources. It goes without saying that many civil servants were loyal to the supranational monarchy. In peasants' houses in Western Ukraine, portraits of a "good Emperor" FRANZ JOSHEPH were common until the Second World War.

On the other hand, in Ukrainian literature of that time, we hardly find a good word about the monarchy. The educational work of Ukrainian, Jewish and Polish associations and institutions was directed almost exclusively towards instilling solidarity with compatriots outside the Empire. The proimperial propaganda could be found perhaps only in school textbooxs, but even there it was rather formal and, if compared with the brainwashing techniques in later totalitarian states, its intensity was negligible. Even if most Ukrainian or Jewish politicans did not wish to break up the monarchy, they did not contribute to its ideological consolidation (19). Modern national movements had a much more idealistic fervour and were more able to attract younger generations and all socially active elements than any of the forces loyal to the ancien regime.

Now, more than seven decades after the end of Habsburg rule in Galicia, positive aspects of the past situation are remembered much more often than negatve ones. In earlier times, Galician Jews were much despised for their esoteric way of life. Now that Galicjaner no longer exist, they are appreciated for preserving those Jewish traditions which were condemned and eventually discarded by the enlightened assimilationists. There is a growing number of studies on Galician Jews and their participation in the cultural life of Vienna and the entire Empire. By contrast, Ukrainians were until recently nearly forgotten in Austria, where, to my knowledge, there still is no person or institution entirely specialising in the history and culture of the former Ukrainian subjects of the Empire. However, the current Ukrainian political revival began to awaken Austrian interest in Ukraine and, particulary, in Galicia and the Bukovina. The Ukrainians are still more interested in contacts with Vienna as one of the natural channels for approaching contemporary Europe. Contemporary Ukraine is eager to use the galician and Bukovinian heritage in order to facilitate the cultural and economic exchange with the Austrian republic. On the other hand, there is an understanding in academic circles that political considerations, useful for attracting attention to the problem, should not influence the objectivity of Galician studies.

Nicolae Iorga coined an expression "Byzance apres Byzance" for the continuation of the Byzantine cultural tradidion after the continuation of the Byzantine cultural tradition after the fall of the Byzantine Empire. In spite of the forced break after 1939, it seems now that in cultural sphere there are prospects for the "Autriche apres Autriche" in contemporary Ukraine.


1. For a historiographical survey, see P. Magocsi. Galicia: A Historic Survey and Bibliographic Guide. Toronto-Buffalo-London 1983.
2. K.Mack (ed.). Galizien um die Jahrhundertwende, Schriftenreiche des Osterreichischen Ost- und Sudosteuropa-Insstitut, Wien-Munchen 1990, vol. 16.
3. Cf., for example, S. Landmann. Erinnerungen an Galizien; Martin Pollack, Nach Galizien: Von Chassiden, Huzulen, Polen und Ruthenen: Eine imaginare Reise durch die verschwundene Welt Ost-galiziens und der Bukovina. Wien-Munchen 1984; K. Schnetzler. Meine galizische Sehnsucht. Frankfurt 1991.
4. J. Roth. Werke. Band 2. Das journalistische Werk 1924-1928. Koln, 1990, S.286, 289.
5. H.-M. Delmaire. La Galicie, ile juive au carrefour europeen, M. Maslovski (ed.). L'Europe du Mileu, Nancy 1991, pp. 177-87.
6. J.P. Himka. The Snows of Yesteryear [a review of Rezzori's novel under the same title], Cross Currents, 1991, vol. 10, p. 68.
7. E. Wiegandt. Austria Felix czyli o micie Galicji w polskiej prozie wspolczesnej. Poznan 1988; M. Klanska. Daleko od Wiednia: Galicja w oczach pisarzy niemieckojezycznych 1772-1918. Krakow 1991.
8. M. Bohachevska-Chomiak. The Spring of a Nation: The Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia in 1848. Philadelphia 1967.
9. Торжество історичної справедливості. Львів 1968, с.255-6.
10. J.P. Himka.Galician Villages and the Ukrainian National Movement in the Nineteenth Century. New York 1988, pp. 217-20.
11. J.P. Himka. The Greek Catholic Church and Nation-Building in Galicia, 1772-1918, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 1984, vol. 8, pp. 426-52.
12. Ibid.
13. A.S. Markovits. Introduction: Empire and Province, A.S. Markovits and F.E. Sysyn (eds.) Nationbuilding and the Politics of Nationalism: Essays on Austrian Galicia, Cambridge, Mass. 1983, p. 16.
14. F. Heer. Der Kampf um die osterreichische Identitat. Wien-Koln 1981, S. 432-42.
15. S. Rosenfeld. The Chain of Generations: A Jewish Theme in Joseph Roth's Novels, Year Book of the Leo Beak Institute, 1973, vol. 8, p. 231.
16. Cf. J.P. Himka. Socialism in Galicia: The Emergence of Polish Social Democracy and Ukrainian Radicalism, 1860-1890. Cambridge, Mass. 1983, pp. 16, p. 179.
17. As far as Ukrainians are concerned, this was shown (still insufficiently) by the example of Ivan Franko. Cf. G. Wytrzens. Zu den literarischen Schriften Franko in deutscher Sprache, Іван Франко і світова культура, Київ 1990, т.1, с.51-9; Z. Konstantinovic. Ivan Franko und das osterreichiche kulturelle unnd literarische Leben am Ausgang des 19. Jhdts, Там само, с. 160-3; P. Kirchner. Zur Frage der Annaherung Ivan Frankos an die osterreichische Sozialdemokratie im Jahre 1898, Там само, с. 401-8.
18. J.P. Himka. Nationality Problems in the Habsburg Monarchy and the Soviet Union: The Perspective of History, R.L. Rudolph and D.F. Good (eds.). Nationalism and Empire: The Habsburg Monarchy and the Soviet Union, New York 1992, pp. 79-93.
19. The attitude of Poles to the monarchy was more complicated. They never abandones their goal of the restoration of an independent Polish state, although the vast majority of the Polish aristocracy and civil servants remained loyal to the monarchy. Polish aristocracy and civil servants remained loyal to the monarchy. Polish peasants idealised the Austrian Emperor no less than did Ukrainian peasants, although in the second half of the nineteenth century they gradually became involved in the Polish national movement.


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