Materials in the Polish State Archives in Przemysl Relating to Lemkos

Materials in the Polish State Archives in Przemysl Relating to Lemkos
written by Zdzislaw Konieczny

printed in volume 1 of Carpatho-Rusyn Studies, Paul J. Best - editor
Carpatho-Russyn Studies Group
Political Science Department
Southern Connecticut State University
New Haven CT 06515 USA

The State Archive in Przemysl has its origins as a modern archive, in the year 1874. Being an autonomous municipal archive of it gathered materials only about the city of Przemysl and only after the end of World War II (in the year 1951) was it made over into the "Provincial State Archive of Rzeszow with its seat in Przemysl." Further changes were made in 1975 when the archive's out-reach territory was enlarged to cover the area of the newly formed Przemysl province.

The establishment of the "Provincial State Archive of Rzeszow with its seat in Przemysl" precipitated the gathering of the most valuable historical materials from the terrain of the
Rzeszow Province. Later changes in the archival structure in Poland had no influence on collections already established. The majority of archival materials have many gaps in
chronology due to losses during World War II but nevertheless these materials are extremely valuable for research into the history of Southeast Poland and the national minorities living there.

The Lemko territory included, up to 1947, parts of the counties of Gorlice, Jaslo, Krosno, Sanok, Lesko and Nowy Sacz. county government documents from these counties, with the exception of the last one, are preserved in the Przemysl archive. These are the records of the Austrian regime in the counties of Gorlice (1901-1918), Jaslo (1853-1918), Sanok (1873-1918); from inter-war Poland: Gorlice (1918-1939), Jaslo (1918-1939), and Sanok (1918-1939), and from the Nazi occupied Sanok County (Der Kreis Hauptmann-Sanok) from the years 1939-1944.

In the preserved Austrian records there is a lack of mention of the Lemko population. On the other hand the most valuable records which deal with the Lemko question come from the Second Polish republic (1918-1939). The richest materials are those of Sanok county. Here we find information touching upon relations between Ukrainians and Lemkos, activities of the Greek Catholic clergy attempting to Ukrainianize the Lemkos, information about the Kaczkowski" reading rooms and relations with Ukrainian organizations for example the "Prosvita" reading rooms, attempts to establish Lemko economic organizations and counter-moves by similar Ukrainian organizations. We find here too a list of Lemko activists in Sanok County, information about attempts to bring into the elementary schools a Lemko grammar, the relationship of the Apostolic Administration for Lemkovyna to the Old Rus (Starorusin) movement, conversion of Lemko activists to a Ukrainophil position, questions revolving around Lemko publications, etc.

The records of the County Government [Starostwo] of Jaslo include materials touching upon relations between the Greek Catholic clergy with Orthodoxy, the conversion of Greek Catholics to Orthodoxy, opinions among the Lemkos, activities of Ukrainians hoping to obtain influence among the Lemkos leading to their Ukrainization. The Lesko question also appears in Starostwo records together with. problems of other more organized national minorities, for example Jews and Ukrainians. Much space is given over to reports concerning Polish political, cultural-educational and economic organizations. Materials available indicate the weakness of Lemko organizations and the low level of national awareness of Lemkos and Ukrainians as well as the great role of the Greek Catholic clergy in formulating the national awareness of Ukrainians.

The records of the County Government in Sanok (Der Kreishauptmann-Sanok) 1939-1944 contain internal administrative records (Amt fur Innere verwaltung), reports of the German police in Sanok relating to political and economic relations and the populace's feelings, etc.

Noteworthy source material is found in notary records. In the collections of the State Archive in Przemysl are retained notarial records which refer to the territory inhabited, among others, by Lemkos. These materials include those of the city of Biecz (1927-1934), Dukla (1924-1934), Gorlice (1922-1950), Krosno (1928-1934), Rymanow (1928-1933) and Sanok (1900-1934).

In these notarial records one finds rich sources for research in many areas, for example: economic history, demography and ethnography. These records are firstly connected with sale of movable and immovable property. Contracts are connected in great part with small farms and farming and to a lesser degree agreements with companies and social organizations of economic or a social-cultural nature. Contracts also refer to sale and purchase and to gifts. A meaningful portion of notarial records are last wills and testaments, protection for children, inheritance of property, traditional dowries for sons and daughters, and also fiances and fiancees under the condition that marriage takes place within a defined period of time.

The notarial materials, unfortunately incomplete, show that the Lemko population was relatively poor and lived most frequently in places with the worst soil.

Court records of County Courts from Dukla (1919-1937) and Krosno (1898-1938), and the City Courts of Sanok (1870-1936) and Zmigrod (1884-1947) are available. Court records are made up mainly of materials concerning inheritance and recognition of personal ownership, regulation of property rights, and mortgages. Records concern the population within the territorial limits of a given court and thus also refer to Lemko cases.

The Geodetic collection (1848-1953) has maps of particular villages inhabited by Lemkos, protocols about parcelization, and size and classification of land. This collection can, among other things, be used for topomastic studies.

The collection containing source materials touching upon the liquidation of Lemko communities in the counties of Gorlice, Jaslo, Krosno, Lesko, Nowy Sacz and Sanok is that of the "the Government plenipotentiary for Evacuation." This person was attached to the Headquarters of the "Operational Group for the Vistula Action" [Akcja Wisla]. The Plenipotentiary dealt with the resettlement of the Ukrainian and Lemko population by the "County Government Repatriation Units," and with assistance from the military, state public safety [National Police - UB] units and the People's Police [Milicia]. The resettlement of the Ukrainian and Lemko population to the USSR began at the end of December 1944 and lasted through 1945. This resettlement was "voluntary" but was not without elements of pressure. The resettlement was based on an agreement between the governments of Poland and the USSR. On the other hand the resettlement in 1947 was forcible and on S wide scale. It included not only Ukrainians but also Lemkos and mixed families. Records included in this collection are complete and contain: lists of concentration points to which resettlers were sent, organization of these points, food supplies, medicines, disinfecting, and medical personnel. In the process of sending resettlers to the northern and western lands of Poland information was collected about the health of the resettlers, distribution of food, feed for cattle, transportation facilities (mainly covered railroad wagons), and what the people brought with themselves, like cattle and other domestic farm animals. In the resettlement lists, next to the surname and given name is indicated the place of recent inhabitation, the community name [Gmina] and the county [Powiat]. Additionally, the resettlement cards indicate the age, the size of abandoned immovable property, descriptions of the farm houses and associated buildings and inventory and the size of the individual's farm fields. This source material is a complete illustration of the numbers of resettlers from Lemko villages as well as their property situation. Very clearly one can see in what conditions these people lived. The resettlement of Lemkos lasted, in a few instances, until the Spring of 1948.

Very valuable resources are available concerning religious faith, in which one finds materials touching upon the Lemkos.

These are: the Archive of the Greek Catholic Bishopric in Przemysl (1291-1946), the Apostolic Administration for Lemkovyna (1934-1945), and also the church registry books from the following Greek-Catholic parishes [and affiliated sub-parishes]:

Besko (1784-1853), Cisna (1784-1883), Gladyazow (1776-1845), Grab (1914-1931), Jawornik (1842-1866), Karlikow (1784-1850), Komancza (1764-1938), Krolik Woloski (1928), Lipowiec (1770-1859), Lukawe (1784-1852), Lupkow (1784-1872), Nowosielce-Gniewosz (1777-1943), Olchowie (1785-1856), Plonna (1784-1888), Szczawne (1913-1944), Szklary (1930-1942), Turzanski (1784-1896), Uscie Ruskie (1821-1852), Wislok Wielki (1784-1867), Wola Nizna (1784-1863), Wolkowyja (1784-1855).

The Greek Catholic Bishopric collection contains, among others, records of Deanery visitations, reports by priests about the religious and moral situation of their parishes, correspondence between the parishes and the bishop and the consistory in Przemysl, and correspondence between the faithful and diocese authorities in Przemysl. Very interesting are materials from the conference of the Greek-Catholic episcopate in Rome in 1932. Here one finds the views of the Greek Catholic Episcopate in regard to the occurrences in Lemkovyna and Orthodox propaganda.

The above-mentioned records shed some light on the struggles connected with the Russophil movement in Lemkovyna, conflicts between parish priests and parish priests, and parish priests and parishioners. There are accusations by the Orthodox population against Greek Catholic priests and by Greek Catholics against priests supporting Orthodoxy in Lemkovyna. In connection with the establishment of the Apostolic Administration for Lemkovyna (AAL) appear complaints by priests accusing the church authorities of eliminating priests with Ukrainian national feelings. Records also provide materials touching upon pro-Ukrainian propaganda carried on by Greek Catholic priests along the border between the Przemysl diocese and the Apostolic Administration for Lemkovyna (AAL).

The AAL collection (1934-1944), not a very large one, is an important source for the history of Lemkovyna. The AAL was established in 1934 when nine Western deaneries [Dekanat=group of parishes] in the mountains were separated from the Przemysl Greek Catholic diocese [and made over into a separate church quasi-diocese or unit directly dependent on Rome]. At first the seat of the unit was Rymanow Zdroj near Krosno [later moved to Sanok]. Records touch upon the organization of administration, cooperation with different Roman and Greek Catholic institutions, protocols of Deanery meetings [minutes and decisions], parish and parish priest records, statistical materials and Census reports of each parish according to the situation in 1935 and 1936, reports for each parish for 1935, reports of deanery visits, deanery meetings of priests, materials about Orthodoxy in Lemkovyna, materials about struggles with the Ukrainian nationalist press, arguments between Greek Catholics and Orthodox about money obtained from the USA for church purposes, material about AAL publications, single copies of various Polish and Ukrainian publications and many other valuable materials. There are also records from 1939-1944 (W.W.II) . A large group of materials consist of copies of church record books from the deaneries of Dukla, Dynow, Gorlice, Grybow, Muszyna, Rymanow and Sanok. This collection is a valuable resource for studies concerning religious and nationality relations in Lemkovyna. There are sources dealing with political tendencies among the Greek Catholic clergy and activities of the Polish state administration which attempted to limit the influence of Ukrainian nationalist groups.

Materials found in the State Archive in Przemysl are an important basis for research about the history of the Lemko territory. Material found in the above-indicated collections have a varied character because of how they were acquired and they require skill and understanding when used by competent researchers. Next to these large collections, the Przemysl archive also has other collections in which fragmentary materials about Lemkos might be found but they are only single documents which would only support information found in the collections mentioned specifically above.

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© LV Productions  Originally Composed: April 8th, 1996
Date last modified: February 21st, 2000