Part 2, Section 25 - Galicia and Lemkovina under the Habsburg's Tyranny and Oppression
Austria-Hungary was one of the least developed {at the turn of the century, Editor's Note.] of the European countries, and Galicia was one of its poorest provinces with agriculture its principal industry.
The government of Galicia, represented by Sejm and regional department had no legislative bodies. They carried out the State government's instructions. The little latitude of District and Regional Departments was restricted to school and hospital business and road maintenance. All important decisions were made by the State government, which was represented by Namistnitstvo in Lviv and the delegation of Namistnitstvo in Cracow, supplemented by bailiffs. Bailiffs were powerful persons in each village. They had control of all administrative power and the police force. They issued money requisitions and arrest warrants and represented the villages in meetings of county authorities. Under the Hapburgs only Poles could be the administrators and bailiffs. They were the trustees of the Polish magnates. Galicia, a colony of the Habsburg empire, was governed by the Vienna bureaucracy with the help of the Polish magnates, proud of their titles as secret advisers to his Majesty and as Senators of the Polish House of Gentlemen in the Vienna Parliament.1
In 1905, the Regional Sejm had 761 ambassadors; including 92 landowners, 6 Knights, 18 Lords and a Baron. In addition there were 18 attorneys, an interpreter, a merchant, an owner of oil wells, a bank director, 2 directors of credit firms, etc. and only 10 villagers, and no workers, craftsmen or teachers. Lord Andrew Pototski was the administrator. Lord Leon Pininski, Lord
Kasemyr and Lord Evstahy Sangushko were the administrators preceding Pototski. Lord Stanislav Badeny was a Marshal and his substitute was archbishop Andrei Shiptitski.
90% of the village Marshals were Poles. The secretarial work of the villages was performed by landowners, attorneys, judges and notary publics. The village police force consisted of bankrupt landowners, military men and retired policemen.
The region was completely run by magnates such as Pototski, Badenov, Lubomyrski, Chartoriski and others who owned land and real estate in the Kingdom of Galicia and Ukraine.
Galicia was an exceptionally good agricultural province. Harvests from cultivated lands at lower elevations was not as good as harvests from the mountain lands. However, communications, trade and business was in a poor or non-existent state. The existing oil wells and forests were owned and controlled by foreign elements or absentee landlords. Lack of any industry made it difficult to find employment. The only livelihood that the poor people and villagers could seek was the use of their manual labor. Wages in Galicia were the lowest in the entire Austro-Hungarian empire. Unemployment was chronic. Millions of people had no work and little bread. At the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately 1,200,000 unemployed. They were ready to do any work for meager wages to survive. However, the state government was generous with Galicia's bureaucracy, politicians, policemen and others in authority.
Due to poor living conditions and bad hygiene, epidemics such as plague, polio, small pox and cholera took the lives of many people. In one year, 1902, 47,000 people died from these diseases. Tuberculosis was another real disaster for the people. In hospitals primitive hygiene methods were used. Doctors and medicines were unaffordable to ordinary people.
A unique hierarchic relationship of people oppression existed in Galicia: Austrians oppressed the Poles and the Poles, in their turn, oppressed the Carpatho-Rusyns in spite of the fact that the Austrian Constitution on August 21, 1967 recognized the equality of nationalities. Galicia was governed by a District and Central administration as a Province with the majority consisting of Poles and the minority consisting of Carpatho-Rusyns. In reality, Poles were not in the majority. Austrian statistics did not cover national or language surveys. According to the census of December 31, 1900, there were 3,932,033 Polish speaking people and 3,080,443 Rusyn speaking people. Out of 7,315,930 people 54.4% were Poles and 42% were Carpatho-Rusyns. If we take into consideration the fact that the Polish language was spoken not only by Poles, but also by Jews, some Carpatho-Rusyns and some Germans, the percentage of the Polish speaking population will decrease to 45%, and the percentage of Carpatho-Rusyns climbs to 43%. These numbers are still not accurate and need to be corrected in favor of the Carpatho-Rusyns because they were at a disadvantage thanks to the landowners, who defined the language of his peasants as Polish, even though it was Rusyn. The same situation happened with Polish landlords and his tenants. Besides this, the census lists went through the bailiff's hands and they were often altered in favor of the Polish language. Taking all this in consideration, we can see that the Poles in Galicia did not outnumber Carpatho-Rusyns. Therefore, the Poles had no right to call Galicia "Polish Territory".2
The nationality statistics show vividly the debasement of the Rusyn population in the governmental and socio-political spheres. Poles occupied the top spots in industry, administration and the free professions, while Rusyns were in agriculture. Also debased was the Rusyn worker, who worked as an unskilled laborer, usually at a day rate, while the cadres of skilled workers were recruited exclusively from among the Poles. The landlord, who was the Rusyn peasant's contact, was a Pole and because of this the nationality question was inseparably linked with the agrarian question.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Polish colonization was extensively developed. Colonists were transferred from western Galicia to the east onto lands that were purely Rusyn. In 1902 alone, several hundred Polish peasants were moved from Myslenitse District to Stryj District. The primary objective of the Polish landlords in this colonization was to set the Polish peasant against the Rusyn peasant, to foster hostility between them and to strengthen their own village mastery.
The Rusyn populace was also no less debased in political and cultural affairs. Of 145 delegates to the Lviv Sejm scarcely 16 were Rusyns, among 72 warrants to the Vienna Parliament there were 10 Rusyn candidates while all the rest were Poles. In the entire region the official language, alongside German, was Polish. Only at the district and village levels might a little Rusyn be heard. In 1900, there were 5,449 Polish teachers in the schools, and only 2,284 Rusyns. There was not a single Rusyn teachers' seminary in the entire region. The school authorities assigned Rusyn teachers mainly to Polish villages, and instead placed Polish teachers, who did not know the language, in Rusyn villages. In 1904, there were 52 Polish high schools and only 5 Rusyn. Of 11 professional schools, not a single one was Rusyn. There were 20,664 Polish high school students and only 4,557 Rusyns. Establishment of a Rusyn high school required authorization from the provincial Sejm, while an ordinary warrant from the local school authorities was enough for a Polish school. Rusyns had no university of their own, and only at the University of Lviv were there 7 Rusyn chairs, which were shortly reduced to 2.
The dominant religion was the Roman Catholic faith, although Roman Catholics did not constitute a majority (45.7%). Polish nationalists fanned the flames of ethnic hatred between the Polish and the Rusyn peasantry. In a speech in 1904, Professor Stanislav Glombinskiy, a candidate for delegate to the Sejm, proclaimed a program of conflict between Poles and Rusyns under the slogan "no yielding to Rusyns in politics, economics, or culture", while Wladyslaw Studnicki expounded a zoological chauvinism in respect to Rusyns that earned him the epithet of Polish hatchet man. 3

Toward the end of the 19th century, under conditions of a growing terror initiated by Badeni regarding spurious elections in 1897, relations between the two peoples in Galicia became very tense. lvan Franko exhibited great love toward the Polish people also, as he expressed it in his brochure in Polish4 , but he had some bitter experiences with Poles and Polish elections. Three times he was a candidate for delegate to the Parliament - in 1895, 1897 and 1898 - but each time the Polish reactionaries rejected his candidacy. Disappointed and discouraged, he parted from his Polish friends and never again cooperated with the publisher of any Polish newspaper. Polish nationalism was the poisoned arrow of the reactionaries.
K. Marx' statement to the effect that a people who suppresses other peoples cannot itself be free acquired particular meaning as applied to Polish social conditions in Galicia.

1 Take for example, Dawid Abrahamowicz (a Jew), who had the following titles:
Dawid Ritter won Abrahamovicz seiner Kaiserf, und Konigl. Apostolischen Majestak wirklichen geheimer Rot, Ritter des Osterr, Kaiserl. Ordens der Eiserneh Kroe (sic!) 1. klasse, Komandeur des Osterr, Kaizerl. Leopold-Ordens, K.K. Minister a D., Lebenslanghichens Mittklied des Herrenhanses des Osterreichischen Reichsrates, Landesabgeordneter Ehrenmitglied des K.K. Galiz. Landwirtschaftlichen Geselischaft, Grossgrundbesitzer, Vertrauensmann der Hypothekar Kreditbabteilung der Osterreichisch-Ungarischen Bank, etc.
"David, Knight von Abrahamovich, privy Councilor to his Royal and Imperial Apostolic Majesty, Knight of the Imperial Austrian Order of the Iron Crown [Krone?], 1st Class, Commander of the Imperial Austrian Order of Leopold, Royal and Imperial Minister (retired), Life-long Member of the House of Lords of the Imperial Austrian Council, District Delegate, Honorary Member of the Royal and Imperial Galician Agricultural Society, Landed Proprietor, Trustee of the Mortgage Credit Department of the Austro-Hungarian Bank, etc."
2 Wiadomosci statystyczne o stosunkach krajowych, Lviv 1909.
Stefan Dnistrianski. National Statistics, Lviv, 1909.
V. Ochrimovich. National policy of Galicia, Lviv, 1909.
3 W. Studnicki, Wyodrebienie Galicji [Separation of Galicia], Lviv, 1901.
4 I. Franko, Nieco o stosunkach pol'sko-ruskich [A little on Ruthenian-Polish Relations], Lviv, 1895.



Originally appeared in newspaper "Karpatska Rus'". Yonkers NY. Permission was granted by the editor for it to appear on The Lemko Page.





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Date Posted: March 23rd, 1998
Last Revision: May 29th, 1999

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