Recording the Destruction of the Jewish Idea of Galicia: Jews towards anti-Semitic violence during World War I and the Polish-Ukrainian War, in particular the pogrom in Lviv

 The paper will be devoted to the process of destruction of the Jewish idea of Galicia in the wake of outburst of anti-Semitic violence during and immediately after World War I in the former Habsburg province, especially in Lviv. I understand the idea of Galicia with reference to Larry Wolff’s conception (2010), i.e. as a transnational cultural and political concept which represented multinational and transnational coexistence in a situation of irrevocable national divisions and growing nationalist tendencies in Galicia. The Jewish variant of this idea was connected with the emergence of specific Jewish-Galician identity which enabled the Galician Jews to identify with the province and the Habsburg empire as a whole. The destruction of the Jewish idea of Galicia was a long-term result of pogroms and riots perpetrated, first, by Russian soldiers who occupied the region, then, by Polish soldiers involved in the Polish-Ukrainian war, as well as by local Galician population. That tragic phenomenon was reported, among others, by An-sky, Abraham Insler and Icchak Grünbaum. Its literary picture was created by Emil Tenenbaum in the novel Tła… [Backdrops…]. The aforementioned works of different genre will constitute the focus of my interest in the presentation. I will to show that the turning point in the process of destruction of the Jewish idea of Galicia was the pogrom in Lviv in November 1918, which followed the Polish-Ukrainian battle of the city, and which was long falsified by Poles, the winners of the Polish-Ukrainian war and the new rulers in the former Galicia. The pogrom and the conflict for its interpretation left a lasting mark in the common awareness of Jews, especially those from or connected with Lviv. Their works let us infer that the old idea of Galicia became for them as outdated as the Habsburg regime itself, and the new idea of the province under the Polish rule was vague and problematic. I intend to highlight that it was because the memory of the pogrom, a bone of contention between Poles and Jews, was one of important factors threatening the precarious consensus of the Second Polish Republic as a multinational state.

5th Annual International
Polish Jewish Studies Workshop

“Centering the Periphery: Polish Jewish Cultural Production Beyond the Capital”

Rutgers University
the State University of New Jersey

March 5-6, 2018
Rutgers University Inn
178 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ  08901