Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:46 am
Post subject: Martin Pollack's lecture in English! "The Myth of Galic
Those of you who are reading Polish (or German) and are interested in Galicia, for sure know this Austrian writer and journalist. He wrote for "Der Spiegel", translated Polish literature to German, published several books, which are bestsellers in Poland.
I wanted to share Pollack's writing with you many times, unfortunately I could not find the English versions. There are still no books translated in English, however I found the lecture by Dr. Martin Pollack, “The Myth of Galicia”, presented at the The Eleventh Annual Volodymyr Dylynsky Memorial Lecture, St. Vladimir Institute, Toronto, Canada, 9 March 2016.
Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:49 pm
Post subject: The Habsburg Empire
I have been reading The Habsburg Empire - A New History by Pieter M. Judson focusing upon the Galician Crown Lands. As you know, Galicia was part of the Habsburg, or Austro-Hungarian Empire for about 123 years, so for those with Galician ancestry, 4-5 generations of our ancestors were influenced by this rule. One of the key things about the Galician experience was that the Polish people were allowed to continue to speak Polish and exercise their cultural traditions more so than in areas controlled by the Russians or Germans. This empire was a central European empire comprising the areas we now know as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, parts of Italy and Serbia along with the Polish provence of Galicia. While German was considered the language of commerce, they allowed people in the various areas to speak their own languages. The peasant "revolution" of 1848 was a key year in European history for the peasants who labored largely as serfs for feudal lords. That said, this is an important book for people interested in understanding the country that our ancestors were a part of and how things changed during the 19th century.
Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:10 pm
Post subject: The Galician Myth lecture
This was indeed a very insightful lecture. One of the things that Mr. Pollack reminds us is that Galicia was very poor, very agrarian, and quite multi-ethnic. There was little industry with the vast majority of people involved in subsistence living - growning food and animals for ones own consumption. While we tend to idealize the myth of Galicia, the reality is that a tremendous number of Galician's migrated to the US, Canada, Australia, Germany and England to seek a better life. It is interesting that Martin says that many Ukranians (and Poles) knew little of from where they came - other than their own village. I think this lack of knowledge, coupled with the poor conditions made most of the migrants happy to leave and most willing to embrace these western cultures. One thing that I would think would be interesting is to understand if the 45 years of communism, while harsh and difficult for the Polish people - provided some basic benefits - like elimination of the large feudal estates, and universal education, that Galicians may not have gotten as members of the Habsburg Empire or the new Polish state.
rsowa PO Top Contributor
Joined: 09 Nov 2013 Replies: 177 Location: Dundee, Michigan, USA
I agree...the lecture is something every descendant of someone from Galicia needs to listen to and learn from. In my reading, I found a lot has been written about Galician poverty and how hard it was to live there. However, there were exceptions. Of my ancestral families, about 90% were subsistence farmers and lived in poverty, were illiterate and (as best I can tell) never left their home villages. The other 10% were a lot different. They had marketable skills (carpentry, butchers and tanners, cobblers, etc). In addition, they were literate and traveled around quite extensively. Nonetheless, they still left Poland and came to America where they did pretty well for themselves.
Regarding the time during Communism, I am not sure what life was like. What I do know is that my grandfather had a sister that married and stayed in Poland. From 1930-1960 he often sent her money. I have no idea if it made a difference in her life, but apparently it did, because he continued to do it for quite a few years.
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