Poles in Ukraine
Poles in Ukraine. The first Poles in Ukraine were probably merchants engaged in transit trade with the Orient. Others began arriving in the retinues of Polish princesses who married Rus’ nobles. A larger contingent was made up of prisoners of war, who were commonly assigned places of settlement. The first such group were taken by Yaroslav the Wise in his campaign against Poland in 1030–1 and placed in the Ros River region. They became farmers and assimilated with the local population. By the early 12th century the needs of the numerous Polish settlers in Kyivan Rus’ (and the desire of the Vatican to expand the influence of the Roman Church) had given rise to the establishment of a Catholic mission in Kyiv. It remained open until 1233. The greatest number of Poles, however, were concentrated in the borderlands of the Kyivan state—Galicia, Volhynia, the Kholm region, and Podlachia. They played a substantial role in the development of those regions, particularly after the Tatar invasion of 1240–1. They even formed a significant element in the courts of Galician and Volhynian princes. The strongest Polish presence in the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia came during the reign of the last Ukrainian prince, Yurii II Boleslav.
1340–1569. Many Poles came to Ukraine after the demise of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia and the takeover of Galicia, western Podilia, the Kholm region, and the Belz land by King Casimir III the Great. In order to secure Poland’s hold on the territories, Casimir and his successors confiscated the estates of Ukrainian boyars and granted generous domains to their Polish counterparts. Among the Polish noblity given holdings in Galicia and Volhynia were the Habdank family, the Odrowąż family, the Pakosław family, the Tarnowski family, the Herburt family, the Buczacki family, the Potocki family, the Jazłowiecki family, the Lanckoroński family, and the Sieniawski family. Villages were often given to Polish nobles on a military tenure basis. Many new villages were established and populated with relocated Ukrainian and Polish peasants. Existing cities were expanded, and most of them were granted Magdeburg law. New cities and towns were developed, and German, Polish, and Armenian craftsmen and merchants were enticed to settle there. Voluntary immigrants, particularly from Little Poland, were attracted by the sparsely populated land, fertile soil, warmer climate, and wide range of fauna found in Galicia. They were also given incentives, such as exemptions from taxes and corvée duties.
Most of the Ukrainian boyar families, including the Churyla, Kyrdei, Strus, Volodyiovsky, and Yarmolynsky, were quickly Polonized. By the 16th century the urban communities of Germans, Armenians, and (in part) Ukrainians were also Polonized. In contrast the Polish peasantry, who lived among the Ukrainian population, were largely Ukrainianized. Ultimately nationality came to be identified through religious affiliation, Roman Catholicism with the Poles and Orthodoxy (and later Greek Catholicism) with the Ukrainians. A comparable situation existed in Podlachia, where a considerable number of petty gentry had resettled from neighboring Mazovia.
Polish influence in the region became stronger still after the establishment in Halych in 1375 of a Roman Catholic archdiocese, which was moved to Lviv in 1412. Dioceses were also introduced in Peremyshl, Kholm, and Volodymyr-Volynskyi (moved to Lutsk in 1428). The Latin rite clergy and monastic orders were also granted substantial estates. The Polish element was weaker in Volhynia and the Kyiv region and Bratslav region, which had been annexed by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. But various restrictions notwithstanding, some Poles established themselves there by buying or leasing lands. They generally maintained cordial relations with the surrounding population. In the 15th century, Polish Catholic bishoprics were formed in Kyiv and Kamianets-Podilskyi. In the same period the colonization (both Ukrainian and Polish) of those regions and Podilia was halted and even rolled back because of the increasing frequency of Tatar attacks. A line of defensive fortifications was built to stem the attacks; the fortifications were, in part, inhabited by Poles.
While the Ukrainian political and economic situation generally was becoming weaker, Polish life and culture was developing vibrantly in major Ukrainian centers, such as Lviv, Peremyshl, Jarosław, and Kamianets-Podilskyi. The estates of Polish magnates also became the focus of cultural and artistic development. Among the leading Polish writers and cultural figures who emerged in Ukraine (some of them of Ukrainian background) were Grzegorz (Hryhorii) of Sianik (1407–77), one of the first Polish humanists and poets and a Catholic archbishop of Lviv; Grzegorz (Hryhorii) of Sambir (literary pseudonyms, Roxolanus and Ruthenus), a panegyrist and educator; the humanist Paweł of Krosno (also known as Pavlo Rusyn, d 1517), a writer and teacher of classical literature at Cracow University; and Mikołaj Rej, a writer and Calvinist polemicist who was one of the founders of Polish literature. Those who belonged to the first Ukrainian school in Polish literature include Stanisław Orzechowski (1513–66), a writer and polemicist from Peremyshl who initially defended the Orthodox in Ukrainian lands, and Sebastian Klonowicz (1545–1602), one of the first writers to deal with Ukrainian themes in Polish (Roxolania, 1584).
1569–1700. As a result of the annexation of Volhynia, the Bratslav region, and Kyiv region by Poland following the Union of Lublin, Polish magnates and noblemen began settling in Right-Bank Ukraine. They were lured by fertile lands and a sparse population: in 1572 the population density of central Poland stood at 16 persons/sq km, of Rus’ voivodeship and Belz voivodeship, at 9 persons/sq km, and of Volhynia and Podilia, at 6.4 persons/sq km. The Kyiv region had less than half the density of Volhynia and Podilia. The colonization of Left-Bank Ukraine did not begin until the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
The colonization campaign was started in earnest by King Stephen Báthory, who decreed that the ‘wastelands’ in Podilia voivodeship, Bratslav voivodeship, and Volhynia voivodeship be distributed in perpetuity to Polish magnates and the nobility. The policy was given further impetus under Sigismund III Vasa. Among the beneficiaries were the Jabłonowski family, the Kalinowski family, the Koniecpolski family, the Potocki family, the Sieniawski family, the Zamoyski family, and the Żółkiewski family. In taking control of their new holdings the magnates settled them with serfs, estate managers (commonly from the petty gentry), and leaseholder–tavern keepers (often Jews). In 1619 the Chernihiv region, acquired by Poland in 1618, was parceled out in reward for military service largely to settlers from central Poland. In the 1630s and 1640s officers from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were granted holdings in the Siversk region.
A number of so-called kinglets were created in Ukraine in the period as large tracts of land were consolidated into latifundia as a result of petitions to the king or Sejm, purchase for a nominal price, or seizure by force. Peasants were induced to settle there by the promise of ‘freedoms,’ specifically an exemption (for 20–30 years) from serfdom. Most of those settlers were Ukrainian peasants fleeing from northwestern Ukraine and Galicia, although peasants from central Poland also joined in. A significant number of those from central Poland later became Cossacks and even led Cossack armies, particularly in the early days of the movement. The private armies of magnates were made up largely of Poles, particularly the petty gentry. The magnates themselves were the unchallenged rulers of their domains and had considerable influence on the conduct of Polish internal and external affairs. Two magnates from Ukraine became Polish kings (Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, 1669–73, and Jan III Sobieski, 1674–96), and others (Stefan Czarniecki, Stanisław Żółkiewski) were important political and military leaders. The Polish estates in Galicia and Volhynia were more numerous than those in central Ukraine, but they tended to be much smaller. One of the largest estates in Ukraine was owned by Jeremi Wiśniowiecki, who ruled (in the 1640s) over 38,000 households and 230,000 subjects.
The Roman Catholic church began to expand its influence in Ukraine considerably, largely through the work of monastic orders, particularly the Polish Jesuits. The Jesuit schools attracted not only Polish magnates and nobility but also the wealthier and more talented Ukrainians, who thus were frequently assimilated to Polish culture and converted to the Catholic faith.
The spread of education and the growth of general economic prosperity were accompanied by a remarkable flowering of Polish culture, notably in architecture, painting, and engraving. In Ukraine Polish spiritual and cultural life was concentrated in (although not limited to) Galicia. The writers Szymon Szymonowicz, Samuel Twardowski, and Szymon Zimorowicz; the historians Bartołomiej Paprocki and Józef Bartołomiej Zimorowicz; and the bishop of Kyiv, Józef Wereszczyński (Yosyf Vereshchynsky), all lived in Ukraine. In the 17th and 18th centuries a number of ornate fortified castles were built there, together with magnate estates that housed large art collections, libraries, and archives. Polish centers in Ukraine rivaled, and in some cases even surpassed, their counterparts in central Poland.
Polish political and economic expansion eastward into Ukraine was slowed in the early 17th century by a series of Cossack uprisings and then brought to a standstill in 1648 by the Bohdan Khmelnytsky uprising (the Cossack-Polish War). The attacks on landlords resulted in an exodus of Poles from Left-Bank Ukraine and the eastern reaches of Right-Bank Ukraine. Some magnates, including such Polonized Ukrainian families as the Wiśniowiecki family and the Zasławski family, fought the uprising with their own armies and inflicted widespread retribution on local populations, thereby increasing the hostility of the peasantry toward themselves.
A number of landowners, some of them even Polonized Ukrainian gentry, remained in central Ukraine and participated in the war against Poland in 1648–57. Several thereafter secured high positions in the Cossack Hetman state. Some Polish noblemen began returning to Ukraine in the last years of the Cossack-Polish War and during the tenure of Hetmans Ivan Vyhovsky (particularly after the signing of the Treaty of Hadiach) and Pavlo Teteria. The influx was halted once again during the period of the Ruin, when Cossack and peasant attacks resulted in the death of a number of Polish nobles. At the end of the hostilities, however, Right-Bank Ukraine retained its Polish orientation. The Polish presence in Left-Bank Ukraine, however, was virtually eliminated. Nevertheless the Polish influence on Ukrainian culture remained widespread until the middle of the 18th century, as Polish continued to be taught and books to be published in Polish by the printing houses of Kyiv (the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press), Novhorod-Siverskyi (the Novhorod-Siverskyi Press), and Chernihiv (the Chernihiv Press).
18th century. After years of devastation due to ongoing fighting during the Ruin and massive depopulation due to large-scale migration to Left-Bank Ukraine, Right-Bank Ukraine saw a new wave of Polish colonization at the beginning of the 18th century. Magnates began returning to their former estates or settling new lands. They established latifundia with separate administrations and armies that occasionally numbered 4,000 to 5,000. The latifundia were settled by the landless gentry (as tenants) as well as by peasants and burghers from other Polish territories. This massive wave of colonization in Podilia and the Kyiv region and Bratslav region was stemmed in part by the popular rebellions, known as the haidamaka uprisings, that broke out in response to religious and social oppression, the re-enserfment of the population, and the suppression of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. The uprisings, which culminated in the Koliivshchyna rebellion of 1768, destabilized the region and resulted in the death of many Polish landlords and their stewards.
During a period of uninterrupted rule in the 17th and 18th centuries, the local Polish population grew in size and importance in Galicia, the Kholm region, Podlachia, and Volhynia. At that time the Polish educational system in Western Ukrainian territories reached its broadest state of development, largely through the work of the Jesuits. After the order was abolished in 1773, the educational system in Volhynia and Right-Bank Ukraine was administered by the Polish Commission of National Education, which transferred control of some Jesuit schools and colleges to the Basilian monastic order. Access to those schools was restricted to those of noble birth, and the students were educated to conform to Polish ways (although instruction in Old Church Slavonic was provided). The schools of the Piarists raised pupils to be Polish patriots, as did branches of the Cracow Academy.
Polish printing houses also contributed to general Polonization. They were run privately in various centers as well as by the Jesuits in Lviv and Peremyshl, the Basilian monastic order in Pochaiv, the Dominican order in Lutsk, and the Carmelites in Berdychiv. Most printing houses, especially those of the Jesuits, had substantial libraries. The estates of magnates became cultural centers in the 18th century, especially those of the Jabłonowski family, the Wiśniowiecki family, the Potocki family, the Sanguszko family, the Rzewuski family, the Ostrozky family, and the Lubomirski family.
A number of leaders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 18th century originated from Ukrainian territories, public figures with names such as Branicki, Czartoryski, Jabłonowski, Lubomirski, Potocki, Rzewuski, and Wiśniowiecki. Most of the leaders of the Confederation of Bar (such as A. Krasiński, the bishop of Kamianets-Podilskyi) and the Torhovytsia Confederacy (S. Potocki, K. Branicki, S. Rzewuski) were from Ukraine, as were many of the participants in the Four-Year Sejm (1788–92). The hero of the rebellion of 1794, Tadeusz Kościuszko, was from Volhynia.
Among notable Poles from Ukraine were the philosopher, educator, and coauthor of the Polish constitution of 3 May 1791 Hugo Kołłątaj, the historian Tadeusz Czacki, the historian and bishop of Lutsk A. Naruszewicz, and the writer and reformer Ignacy Krasicki.
Russian Empire, 1795–1917. The Ukrainian lands annexed by the Russian Empire after the partitions of Poland in 1793–5 (Volhynia, Podilia, and the Kyiv region) were home to approximately 240,000 Roman Catholics, who constituted 11–12 percent of the total population. Another 60,000 lived in the Kholm region, Podlachia, and Polisia. Most of the Roman Catholic population were Poles with the exception of those peasants and petty nobles who became Ukrainianized through the years and became part of the latynnyky.
Polish magnates and aristocrats maintained their estate privileges and even increased their power over serfs. Polish landowners prospered economically as the latifundia in Right-Bank Ukraine played a leading role in the production and export of grain (mainly wheat). Polish culture continued to dominate its Ukrainian counterpart in the region, even under Russian control, and the Kremianets Lyceum (est 1805) became a leading center of Polish education and culture. Polish was the official language of education, administration, and the courts. The predominantly Polish Roman Catholic church went about its affairs without harassment, even though its largely Ukrainian Greek Catholic counterpart came under close official scrutiny. Poles were also allowed to settle and acquire estates in Kyiv, Left-Bank Ukraine, and Southern Ukraine without restriction.
The Polish elite consisted of a small contingent of magnates; they were followed in size by middle and lesser landowners, and a large number of petty gentry. Commonly impoverished, the petty gentry on the magnates’ estates paid cash rents. They also provided the cadres for service as estate managers, administrators, and the like. Most of the magnates were loyal to the Russian Empire, even after the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1 and the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4. They readily identified with the Russian gentry, and many moved to Saint Petersburg. The middle nobility was left as the local bulkwark of Polish patriotism aiming to restore Poland to its pre-1772 borders. About half of the Poles in Ukraine consisted of immigrants who had arrived in the first half of the 18th century and settled among Ukrainians or, more rarely, in separate hamlets. Relatively few Poles lived in urban areas.
The enterprises established by the Branicki family, the Czartoryski family, the Lubomirski family, the Potocki family, and the Sanguszko family made Right-Bank Ukraine the most industrially developed region in Ukraine until the mid-19th century. Their prosperity enabled the Polish estate owners to weather the reactions to the failed insurrections (the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1 and the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4), including the confiscation of the assets of the participants and a discriminatory land policy. It also helped tide them over through to the reforms of 1861. In fact the Polish landowners maintained considerable economic strength and influence until the outbreak of the Revolution of 1917.
But the privileges afforded the Polish nobility in Right-Bank Ukraine were rolled back during the 19th century, and their domination of the Right Bank was diminished. After the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1, thousands of participants were exiled to the Kuban and the Urals, and their properties were seized. Their serfs became state peasants. Among the exiles was S. Konarski, who returned in 1835 and organized the Society of the Polish People in Ukraine, an underground group that was later uncovered, and of which 200 members were arrested. The Kremianets Lyceum was closed down, and its library was transferred to Kyiv for use by the newly formed Kyiv University. The initial intention of the new academic body was to assist in the Russification of Ukraine.
A relaxation in Russian policy after the Crimean War resulted in renewed activity among Polish secret societies, such as the Trojnicki Union (among whose organizers was Volodymyr Antonovych). By 1861 the Polish political movement had developed to the point that it could organize patriotic demonstrations in Kyiv, Zhytomyr, and Berdychiv. Memorandums were addressed to the Russian authorities demanding agrarian reforms, the establishment of Polish schools in Podilia, the teaching of Polish at Kyiv University, and (by certain figures in Podilia) even the return of Right-Bank Ukraine territories to the administrative realm of the Congress Kingdom of Poland.
In the first half of the 19th century some currents of Ukrainophilism appeared among Poles as well as a territorial Polish-Ukrainian patriotism that sought to merge the nascent Ukrainian movement with efforts to create a new, possibly federative, Polish Commonwealth. In the 1820s W. Rzewuski organized on his estate a camp modeled on the Zaporozhian Sich as well as a school for lirnyks. The poet Tymko Padura, whose Ukrainian-language dumas urged an uprising against Russia, stayed there for a time. A number of Polish writers were active in Right-Bank Ukraine, including Juliusz Słowacki, the poets of the Ukrainian school in Polish literature (Antoni Malczewski, Józef Bohdan Zaleski, Seweryn Goszczyński, and others), Michał Czajkowski (pseud: Sadyk Pasza), A. Feliński, Józef Korzeniowski, H. Rzewuski, Leonard Sowiński, and the historian Michał Grabowski. Józef Kraszewski’s work, like that of others, dealt with Ukrainian themes.
During the Crimean War Michał Czajkowski, emulating the traditions of Hetman Petro Doroshenko, organized a Cossack detachment to support the Turks. In the late 1850s a group of Polonized Ukrainian noblemen created the populist khlopoman movement. It was led by Volodymyr Antonovych, and sought a return to the Ukrainian folk life. The members’ quest took them to the point that in 1863 Antonovych and several close associates (Tadei Rylsky, Borys Poznansky, and others) renounced any support for Polish claims to non-Polish territories and adopted an openly Ukrainian national perspective. Most Polish circles, even Ukrainophiles, were incapable of such a radical break with the ethos of their social traditions.
On the eve of the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4 there were 471,000 Roman Catholics in Right-Bank Ukraine, constituting 9 percent of the total population. The failure of the rebellion resulted in harsh repercussions and a significant decline in Polish political and cultural influence. In addition to numerous executions, deportations, and confiscations or forcible sales (to non-Poles) of assets there was a total ban on the Polish spoken and printed word (even in Roman Catholic religious instruction) and the abolition of all Polish associations and organizations. Polish landowners by and large were forced to relinquish their political and cultural activities and concentrate strictly on economic undertakings. The Polish clergy diminished in size and was also forced to limit its field of action. Even the zemstvo system of municipal self-administration was not introduced into the Right-Bank gubernias for nearly half a century because of imperial mistrust of the Poles. Advances in agriculture in the 1870s in Ukraine gave the Poles a foothold for their limited reascent to strength, first economically and then culturally and even politically.
From the 1870s the distribution and social structure of the Polish population in Ukraine underwent substantial changes. The Poles’ rate of natural increase fell behind that of other segments of the population. In Volhynia (1901 statistics) Roman Catholics registered a natural growth rate of 18 percent, compared to 21 percent for the Orthodox. The same trend was evident in Podilia (14 and 17 percent respectively) and in the Kyiv region (11 and 17 percent). Assimilation and immigration also came into play. As Ukraine became more industrialized in the later part of the century, a new wave of Poles from central Poland arrived. A growing number of professionals and industrial workers gravitated to the cities. With the abolition of serfdom Polish peasants came to Volhynian Polisia seeking lands being distributed through parcelation. A substantial number of dispossessed Poles from Right-Bank Ukraine and recent arrivals from Poland proper settled in larger cities, such as Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiv. The extent of the influx was not clear in official statistics as population gains were offset by the linguistic and religious assimilation of Polish peasants who had settled on Ukrainian territories. Imperial law also required that all children of mixed marriages be baptized in the Orthodox church.
A large percentage of (linguistic) Poles were urban dwellers. In 1897, 30.3 percent of all Poles in Ukraine lived in cities. Kyiv had the largest concentration of Poles, and their number there increased rapidly. There were 10,400 Poles in the city (8.2 percent of its total population) in 1874, 16,700 (6.8 percent) in 1897, and 44,400 (9.8 percent) in 1909. In Right-Bank Ukraine they settled in Berdychiv, Kamianets-Podilskyi, and Zhytomyr; in Southern Ukraine they lived in Katerynoslav (13,000), Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa (in 1914, 26,000); and in Slobidska Ukraine they had their largest concentration in Kharkiv (6,000). According to Russian governmental statistics for 1909, there were 424,000 Poles living in the three Right-Bank gubernias (3.8 percent of the total population). Church statistics for 1909 provide a figure of 802,000 Roman Catholics (6.3 percent of the total) in the same territories. Officially the numbers of Roman Catholics and Poles in Russian-controlled Ukraine outside of the Right Bank were as given in table 2.
The most significant concentration of Roman Catholics in Right-Bank Ukraine was found in a strip generally 80–100 km wide running north from Kamianets-Podilskyi to Novohrad-Volynskyi and then curving eastward past Lutsk. There the Poles constituted up to 20 percent or more of the local population. Imperial Russian figures note that there were 1,390,000 Roman Catholics and 809,000 Poles in the Ukrainian gubernias in 1914.
Polish landowning magnates continued to exert considerable influence. Russian statistics for 1909 note that in Right-Bank Ukraine they controlled 2,306,000 desiatins (2,540,000 ha) of land, representing 46 percent of all private holdings and 15.4 percent of the entire area of the three Ukrainian gubernias. Combined with the holdings of smaller-scale landowners, the figure for Polish-controlled lands stood at nearly 3 million ha. The Poles were leaders in the development of sugar refining in Right-Bank Ukraine, and Polish factories (primarily in Kyiv) supplied machinery and supplies for refineries. Other skilled Poles worked in distilleries, breweries, smelters, mines, and glassworks. Poles also constituted a sizable contingent among those engaged as independent craftsmen and in the free professions.
Polish economic, cultural, and political life became more active in the late 19th century owing in part to the relaxing of tsarist controls. Three main currents of Polish political thought in Ukraine emerged: conservative, represented by the large landowners, whose press organs were the weeklies Kraj (published in Saint Petersburg) and Kresy (published in Kyiv); national democratic, represented by Roman Dmowski’s National League and Przeglçad Wszechpolski; and socialist, represented by the Polish Socialist party’s (PPS) underground paper Robotnik, published in Kyiv in 1901–2. The Ukrainian Socialist party (Kyiv) was modeled on its Polish counterpart and led by a Polonized Ukrainian, Bohdan Yaroshevsky, before eventually joining with the Revolutionary Ukrainian party.
Polish conservatives considered the Ukrainian question an internal Russian matter, and the national democrats denied that Ukrainians had legitimate national aspirations. Only the leaders of the PPS expressed any support for the Ukrainian movement, and they did so cautiously. In exception to the general lack of support was the formation of a group of ‘Ukrainians of Polish culture,’ or ‘Roman Catholic Ukrainians,’ led by Viacheslav Lypynsky. Other members included L. Siedlecki, Frantsishka Volska, and Y. Yurkevych. Their press organ was the biweekly Przegląd Krajowy, published in Kyiv in 1909. Lypynsky and his associates adopted a Ukrainian national and even independentist platform. Others who switched from Polish to Ukrainian nationality included Mykhailo Tyshkevych and Jan Tokarzewski-Karaszewicz. Ukrainophilism and territorial patriotism also continued to manifest itself in Right-Bank Ukraine.
Polish political and community life intensified after the Revolution of 1905. In Kyiv the Ogniwo club and the gymnastic club Sokół were established. The first Polish daily, Dziennik Kijowski, which had a national-democratic orientation, began publication through the efforts of a group of Polish landowners. Other Polish periodicals issued in Kyiv included Nasza Przyszłość, the literary weekly Kłosy Ukraińskie, and the socio-political weekly Przedświt. Ukrainian-Polish literary co-operation resulted in the publishing of the bilingual journal Novorichnyk avtoriv pol’s’kykh i ukraïns’kykh in 1908. In 1906 Poles in Ukraine elected five representatives to the First State Duma and three to the State Council. Polish parliamentarians co-operated with the Ukrainian caucus in the Russian State Duma and in the Autonomists' Union (formed at Polish initiative). Poles exercised considerable influence in the administrations of municipal governments and of gubernial and district zemstvos, after they were established in the Right-Bank gubernias in 1911.
In addition to underground schools several Polish educational groups were active in Ukraine before 1905, notably the Society for Popular Education (est 1897) and the Society for National Education (est 1904). After 1905 Oświata and other educational organizations could operate legally. A network of private Polish schools was established and overseen by the Polska Macierz Szkolna society. By 1917 the group had 103 schools, with an enrollment of 8,880.
Polish literary, musical, and artistic activity grew considerably from the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries in centers such as Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Berdychiv, Kamianets-Podilskyi, and certain landowners’ estates. A number of important figures in Polish culture either lived or worked in Ukraine, including the poet T.T. Jeż (Z. Miłkowski) and the writer Leonard Sowiński; the painters H. Siemiradzki and Wilhelm Kotarbiński; and the composers and musicians J. Zarębski, Ignacy Paderewski, and Karol Szymanowski. Joseph Conrad (Józef Korzeniowski) was born in Ukraine, where he lived until his parents were exiled for revolutionary activity. Polish stagecraft was much in evidence in Kyiv, where in 1911 F. Rychłowski organized a permanent drama theater. It became particularly successful after many leading Polish actors joined it in 1916–18. L. Idzikowski established a bookstore and publishing house in Kyiv (1857–1920s) that issued over 200 titles by Polish authors, mainly those who lived in or were active in Ukraine. It also became a major publisher of music by Ukrainian (Mykola Lysenko) and Polish composers.
Polish scholars who were born or lived in Ukraine included Edward Rulikowski and Tadeusz Stecki (regional studies); L. Białkowski, Franciszek Gawroński, Aleksander Jabłonowski, T. Michalski, and Antoni Józef Rolle (history); Julian Talko-Hryncewicz (anthropology); J. Bartoszewicz (economics); Henryk Ułaszyn (Slavic studies); and W. Klinger (classical philology). Ukrainian scholars of Polish background included Apolon Skalkovsky (history), K. Bolsunovsky (numismatics and archeology), and Vladyslav Horodetsky (architecture).
Poles in Ukraine generally maintained their own distinct communities even though they generally were fluent in Ukrainian and Russian. Large Polish landowners and their attendant administrators tended to regard Ukrainian peasants as a lower caste and treated them with a fair amount of contempt. In cities Poles lived in their own ghettos, and their contact with Ukrainians was minimal. The relations between Poles and the imperial authorities were usually restrained.
Although the Poles were usually either unsupportive of (even antagonistic to) or neutral to Ukrainian political and national strivings, they played a significant and overall positive role in the development of Ukraine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The substantial Polish presence in Right-Bank Ukraine served as a counterpoint to Russian political domination and cultural Russification. Although neither the Russians nor the Poles would concede that Ukrainians should be treated as equals, the tension between the two helped to crystallize a conviction among Ukrainians that they were culturally and politically distinct. Moreover, certain people raised in a Polish cultural milieu (Volodymyr Antonovych, Viacheslav Lypynsky, Tadei Rylsky, and others) contributed significantly to the formation of the modern Ukrainian nation.
Galicia, 1772–1918. In 1914 there were 1,240,000 Roman Catholics living in eastern Galicia (including the Lemko region, but not the ethnic Polish borderland districts), where they constituted 23.1 percent of the total population. About two-thirds of them were ethnic Poles, and most of the rest were latynnyky. About 25 percent of Roman Catholics (virtually all of them Poles) lived in cities, compared to 8 percent of Greek Catholics. Such differences were also common in the respective occupational profiles. In 1910 fewer Roman Catholics were engaged in agriculture than Greek Catholics (68 compared to 90 percent), and more were active in industry (16 compared to 3 percent), trade and transport (8.5 compared to 2.5 percent), and the civil service and free professions (7.5 compared to 4.5 percent).
Changes in ethnic and religious demography reflected a growth in the number of Roman Catholics. They constituted 21.4 percent of the total Galician population in 1857 (Greek Catholics, 66.5 percent), 22.2 percent in 1880 (Greek Catholics, 63.4 percent), 23.5 percent in 1900 (Greek Catholics, 62.8 percent), and 25.3 percent in 1910 (Greek Catholics, 61.7 percent; the figures do not include the Lemko region, but include the Polish border districts). The rise was due largely to the eastward migrations of people from central Poland (35,000 in 1891–1900). Other possible factors were the greater number of Galician Ukrainians emigrating to North and South America and the Polonization of Ukrainians, Germans, and Jews, particularly in large cities. The highest concentrations of Poles lived in large pockets around Lviv, Mostyska, Sambir, and Ternopil and in a swath of territory reaching from Peremyshl and Sambir in the west to the Zbruch River in the east.
The core of the Polish community in Galicia was composed of the landowners, civil servants, professionals, industrial workers, and other urban elements. The reforms of Joseph II of Austria limited the powers of Polish magnates and nobles over the peasantry, but after Joseph’s death in 1790 they began taking control of the local bureaucratic apparatus. Poles were able to influence the Austrian administration by lobbying senior Austrian officials on the one hand and by filling lower-echelon positions with Polish petty noblemen on the other. Poles became the ruling elite of municipal governments and of the Galician Diet (1817–45). A number of former royal Austro-Hungarian estates in Galicia were sold to Polish magnates, who thus increased their holdings.
Polish revolutionary democrats contributed considerably to the awakening of national consciousness among the Galician clerical intelligentsia in the 1830s and 1840s. Activists such as Kasper Cięglewicz and Mykhailo Popel circulated propaganda in Ukrainian and sought to disseminate it among Greek Catholic peasants and students in seminaries. The events of the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy, however, underlined the deep divisions between Ukrainians and Poles.
The appointment of Count Agenor Gołuchowski as governor of Galicia in 1849 and a political understanding reached with the Austrian government in 1867 consolidated the Poles' status as the ruling group in Galicia. They now dominated the crown land’s bureaucracy; by the early 20th century virtually all upper-rank civil servants and county heads were Poles. In 1912 there were 112 Poles with senior positions in the central Viennese administration, compared to only 5 Ukrainians.
Poles also owned much of the land in Galicia. In 1892 the holdings of large landowners, virtually all of whom were Poles, constituted 43 percent of the total landholdings. Polish settlements also expanded in eastern Galicia as the result of a sustained colonization effort. In 1852–1912, Polish immigrants from the western part of the crown land received 237,000 ha of land earmarked for parcelation in eastern Galicia, in comparison to 38,000 ha given to Ukrainians. Gymnasiums and postsecondary educational institutions were also predominantly Polish in character. The postsecondary institutions were all Polish, and there were 39 Polish state gymnasiums in eastern Galicia, compared to 3 Ukrainian.
The antagonism between Poles and Ukrainians was further exacerbated by the almost universal anti-Ukrainian stance of the major Polish political parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most influential Polish party of the 1870s and 1880s, the Cracow-based group of western Galician conservatives commonly known as the Stańczyk group (Ukrainian: stanchyky), controlled the higher offices of the crown land and many senior posts in the Viennese government; one of their number was always appointed Austrian minister for Galicia, and some of them managed to become premier. In 1907 they formed the National Right party. The leading figures of the group included Kazimierz Badeni, L. Biliński (Austrian minister of finance), Michał Bobrzyński, and Andrzej Potocki. Another group of Polish conservatives, based in Lviv, included D. Abrahamowicz, W. Dzieduszycki, Agenor Gołuchowski, and K. Grocholski. That group was particularly vociferous in combating Ukrainian interests (even more so than the Cracow group). In the early 20th century the liberal-nationalist National Democratic party, popularly known as the Endecja, was a chauvinistic group; it supported Russia in its foreign policy, and its members therefore were often considered Russophiles. Its ideologist was Roman Dmowski, and its leaders were S. Głąbiński, Stanisław Grabski, A. Skarbek, and others, who published the daily Słowo Polskie. The group influenced such large community organizations as Sokół and the Society for Public Schools.
The Polish political faction most receptive to Ukrainian political aspirations was the socialist camp, which worked closely with its Ukrainian counterpart. Its leaders included I. Daszyński, H. Diamand, H. Lieberman, and B. Limanowski. Polish and Ukrainian socialists also collaborated within unions to which members of both groups belonged.
On the eve of the First World War the Polish political world in Galicia was divided into two camps. On the one hand were the Cracow conservatives and democratic groups (liberals, socialists, and populists), and on the other, the Podolians and the National Democrats. The former group eventually managed to reach a comprehensive Ukrainian-Polish rapprochement, which was never put into practice owing to the outbreak of the First World War.
Along with political power came disproportionate benefits to Polish cultural concerns. In 1902, 333,050 crowns were dispensed for Polish cultural aims by the Galician Diet; Ukrainians were issued 35,900 crowns. Lviv continued to be an important center of Polish political and cultural life, at times more important than Cracow and even Warsaw. Alongside Lviv University and the polytechnical school were a number of Polish scholarly institutions, including the Ossolineum Institute, the Polish Historical Society, the Polish Society of Naturalists, and various libraries, museums, theaters, book clubs, and journal reading clubs. Peremyshl, Stanyslaviv, Ternopil, and other centers also boasted considerable Polish cultural activity.
Many Poles of eastern Galicia (including a substantial number of immigrants from central Poland and Right-Bank Ukraine) influenced the development of Ukrainian cultural, academic, and political life. Among them were the writers Aleksander Fredro, Z. Kaczkowski, Jan Lam, K. Ujejski, Tymon Zaborowski, and Jan Zachariasiewicz (who frequently touched on Ukrainian matters and themes in their works); the literary scholars A. Brückner, W. Feldman, J. Kleiner, and M. Mochnacki; the painters and sculptors A. Grottger, Juliusz Kossak, and Kazimierz Sichulski; the composers and musicians J. Gall, H. Jarecki, and M. Sołtys; many actors who performed at the Lviv Theater; the historians A. Bielowski, Franciszek Bujak, Władysław Łoziński, Antoni Prochaska, and Karol Szajnocha; the economists L. Caro and S. Szczepanowski; the statistician J. Buzek; and the geographer Eugeniusz Romer.
Central Ukraine, 1917–20. After the outbreak of the First World War (particularly in 1915) there was a large influx of Polish refugees from territories occupied by the Central Powers. Most of them settled in Kyiv; by 1917 their number in that city had reached 42,800 (or 9.5 percent of the city’s total population). The Polish Society for Relief of Victims of War (with about 50 branches) and the Central Civilian Committee were established to assist them.
After the February Revolution of 1917 a number of Polish political and community organizations were established, including the Polish Executive Committee in Ruthenia (PKW), headed by J. Bartoszewicz. Polish national democrats and landowners were the dominant forces in that organization, whose leaders also included J. Zdziechowski.
In July 1917 an all-Ukrainian congress of Poles was convened in Kyiv. It split into two groups after a democratic faction, influenced by the PPS and the Polish Army Organization, seceded. The PPS itself later split into left and right factions. The mainstream Polish group, the Polish Democratic Center party, was led by such figures as Stanisław Stempowski, R. Knoll, and Mieczysław Mickiewicz. Both Polish political camps were receptive to the Ukrainian national revival, but the PKW opposed the Central Rada’s policies. Therefore, on 24 July 1917, only representatives of the Democratic Center party joined the Central (20 deputies) and Little Radas (W. Matuszewski and W. Rudnicki). Mickiewicz served as one of the advisers on nationality affairs to the General Secretariat of the Central Rada, and after the Third Universal of the Central Rada (20 November 1917) he was appointed head of the newly formed Ministry of Polish Affairs. The Central Rada’s radical agrarian policies alienated many Poles from the cause of Ukrainian statehood.
In accordance with legislation on personal and national autonomy passed on 24 January 1918 the Polish minority in Ukraine had the right to establish a separate national union with rights of autonomy. The projected elections for its first congress, however, never took place (as the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21 broke out). Most Poles in Ukraine continued to support the PKW and shunned the Ukrainian National Republic’s Ministry of Polish Affairs because it was left-wing. Despite the adverse conditions the ministry had some achievements in the fields of education, social services, and the defense of Polish interests. The Polish educational organization, Związek Macierzy Polskiej, was also active in 1917–18.
All nationality ministries were abolished after the Hetman coup, and Polish schools were placed under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education of the Hetman government. Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky’s support of the interests of Polish landowners garnered him their loyalty, however. During his regime the PKW continued to be active.
In 1917–18 there were over 1,300 Polish schools in Ukraine, with 84,000 pupils and 1,800 teachers. There were 13 secondary schools in Kyiv, 2 in Zhytomyr, and 2 in Odesa. In November 1917 the Polish University College was established in Kyiv, with L. Janowski as its first rector. In 1917–18 it had an enrollment of 718.
In 1919 the chaos in Ukraine and the occupation of most of its territory by Bolshevik forces set in motion a massive Polish emigration to the newly established Polish state. The conclusion of the subsequent Soviet-Polish War of 1919–20 and the signing of the Peace Treaty of Riga precluded the possibility of a return to Ukraine for many Polish landowners and members of the intelligentsia and prompted the emigration of many of those who had remained. Some of the new emigrants assumed senior positions in the Polish government and maintained relations with associations of refugees from Ukraine.
Ukrainian SSR, 1920–1930s. According to the census of 1926 there were 476,400 Poles in Soviet Ukraine (1.6 percent of the total population). Of those, 230,400 (48.4 percent) listed the Ukrainian language as their mother tongue (15.7 percent in the cities, 56.9 percent in rural areas). They were probably latynnyky. A large majority (86 percent) of the Poles in Ukraine (408,000) lived in territories that had belonged to the Polish state until the late 18th century. Their distribution remained similar to the distribution recorded in 1897. They were most highly concentrated in Volhynia (Zhytomyr) and Proskuriv okruhas, where they formed 12.5 percent and 10.2 percent of the respective total populations. The only region with a Polish majority was Marchlewski raion (Dovbysh), where 69.2 percent of the people were Poles by nationality, and approximately 33 percent, Poles by language. There were also small Polish communities in the steppe regions. A large number of Poles lived in larger urban centers, such as Kyiv (13,700, or 2.7 percent of the population), Odesa (11,600), Kharkiv (7,000), Kherson (4,500), and Dnipropetrovsk (4,000).
The process of assimilation of the Polish peasantry in Right-Bank Ukraine continued, as the data of the 1897 and 1926 censuses testify. In general the category of Roman Catholic included those who gave Polish as their nationality, that is, both true Poles and latynnyky. That means that the Polish community in Ukraine contracted by 38 percent in 30 years (1897–1926). The percentage of the Polish population in cities also declined, from 3.1 percent of Ukraine’s urban population to 1.9 percent. In 1897, 30 percent of Ukraine’s Poles lived in cities in 1926, 15 percent. Prior to the Revolution of 1917 their social distribution was different from that of Ukrainians. By 1926 it had become the same. The community suffered far more than after the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1 and the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4. It became a small minority, and its elite virtually ceased to exist.
In the 1920s Poles in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic were regarded and treated as a distinct national minority. Under the Bolshevik regime, however, Polish political, community, and cultural organizations either were abolished or dissolved themselves, and schools were brought under the control of the Soviet educational system. Of the political parties only some cells of the left wing of the Polish Democratic Center party remained, and they were co-opted to the Communist Party of Ukraine or CP(B)U. The CP(B)U maintained Polish bureaus in the Central Committee as well as in municipal and oblast committees. In the 1920s those bureaus oversaw Polish community life in the Ukrainian SSR. Nationality councils were also established in areas where Poles were concentrated (139 in May 1927). A total of six courts presided over cases in Polish.
On 1 January 1927 there were 281 Polish labor schools (134 in 1936). In 1928, 38 Polish books were published in Ukraine; in 1934, 63. There were 17 newspapers published in Polish, including the daily Sierp (renamed Głos Radziecki in 1935). The People's Commissariat of Education of the Ukrainian SSR had a Polish Central Bureau. In Kyiv there was also the Central Polish Library and a Polish department in the State Publishing House of Ukraine. In 1931 the Institute of Polish Proletarian Culture was established at the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. It did not manage to undertake any serious work, however, because it was liquidated soon thereafter. The Polish section of the Central State Historical Archive in Kyiv met a similar fate.
In the early 1930s, relations between Poland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics worsened. In late 1933 Pavel Postyshev declared that an ‘underground’ Polish Army Organization had been uncovered. He accused Polish members of the Communist Party of Ukraine of being leaders of the organization and had them shot as spies. Thereafter Marchlewski raion was liquidated. Senior party and government members in the USSR of Polish or Polish-Jewish background (including Felix Kon, J. Kosior, and Stanislav Kosior) made virtually no effort in the sphere of Polish affairs.
Ukrainian territories under Poland, 1919–39. The course of ethnic relations was different in every region of Western Ukraine. In Galicia, despite pressures exerted by the local Polish population and those who arrived seeking parceled land, the percentage of Roman Catholics rose only from 24 to 25 percent (Polish statistics cite 30 percent). The small growth was due to the larger rate of natural population increase among Greek Catholics, a reduced rate of emigration to the Western Hemisphere, and a reduced rate of migration from central Poland (the Poles there gravitated more to cities in Silesia, in the Poznań region, and along the Baltic Sea coast). Many senior Polish officials, scholars, activists, artists, and others left Lviv for Warsaw, Poznań, and Vilnius.
In western Volhynia and Polisia Poles and latynnyky constituted 9 and 4.5 percent respectively of the population in 1897. Their numbers doubled in the interwar period owing to a strong influx of Poles into the cities (particularly as administrators) and to rural areas (military personnel and parcelation recipients). In the Kholm region and Podlachia the number of Ukrainians diminished because many former Uniates (since Uniatism had been outlawed in 1875–6) and Orthodox converted to Roman Catholicism (and became known as kalakuty). In addition only a portion of the Poles who had been evacuated eastward during the First World War (in 1915) returned to the region.
In Galicia in 1931, agriculture occupied 69.9 percent of Roman Catholics (88.1 percent of Greek Catholics); industry, 11 percent (5.8 percent of Greek Catholics); trade, 5.8 percent (1.5 percent of Greek Catholics); the civil service, 5.6 percent (1.2 percent of Greek Catholics); and other activities, 7.7 percent (3.4 percent of Greek Catholics).
Lviv continued to be the focus of considerable Polish activity in scholarship and culture. Less important, but active nevertheless, were Peremyshl, Stanyslaviv, Lutsk, Ternopil, Brest, and other locales. Poles continued their pre-eminence in publishing. In 1929, of 313 periodicals issued in the eastern voivodeships of Poland (including German and Jewish publications) only 77 were Ukrainian. Of the 16 dailies, only 2 were Ukrainian.
Polish writers active in the region included Mieczysław Jastrun, Kornel Makuszyński, Jan Parandowski, Leopold Staff, and Stanisław Vincenz. Those active in music included L. Bronarski, Adam Sołtys, and T. Szeligowski; in linguistics, Jan Janów, J. Kuryłowicz, and Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński; in ethnography, Adam Fiszer; in law, A. Halban; in geology, W. Rogala and Wawrzyniec Teisseyre; in botany, S. Kulczyński; in anthropology, J. Czekanowski; in mathematics, Stefan Banach and K. Bartel; and in chemistry, I. Mościcki (later the president of Poland).
Among Polish cultural figures born in Right-Bank Ukraine (outside Galicia) were the writers M. Choromański, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, Józef Łobodowski, and Włodzimierz Słobodnik; the composers M. Kondracki and Karol Szymanowski; and the architect T. Tolwinski. Polish political leaders active in Western Ukraine included Henryk Józewski, Joachim Wołoszynowski, and W. Biernacki-Kostek.
Everyday relations between Ukrainians and Poles in the Western Ukrainian districts varied. In general, relations between Ukrainian peasants and latynnyky were good and neighborly, particularly with those Poles who had settled there long before. There was, however, hostility to newcomers from the city, such as teachers and police, forestry department, and manorial officials. Contacts between the Ukrainian and Polish rural intelligentsia were mostly official. Ethnic relations in the cities also tended to be official, regardless of social standing.
After 1939. After the Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine in 1939, Polish influence in that region declined immediately. Large and middle-sized Polish estates were liquidated, and many Polish colonists and administration officials were deported. A sizeable large number of refugees from German-occupied Poland arrived in Lviv, including Communist leaders, such as Władysław Gomułka and Z. Kliszko. There was a Polish theater of drama and satire in the city as well as a number of Polish-language newspapers and journals.
After the new border was established between the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and Poland (on 16 August 1945), a massive exchange of borderland population ensued. In 1946 virtually all Poles were deported from Western Ukraine to territories recently acquired by Poland from Germany (the so-called regained lands). Large numbers of Ukrainians were moved from borderland regions into newly opened lands. Many of the Ukrainians who had remained in Ukrainian ethnic territory ceded to Poland (northwestern Galicia and the Lemko region, the Kholm region, and the Sian region) were deported westward by the Polish authorities (see Operation Wisła). As a result the ethnic boundaries between Ukrainian and Polish areas of settlement came to correspond roughly with the political borders, and the Polish element in Ukraine was reduced to a relatively insignificant minority.
According to the census of 1959 there were 363,000 Poles and latynnyky in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, representing 0.9 percent of the total population. In 1933 there had been 2,100,000 (or 5 percent of the total) within the same boundaries (inclusive of Western Ukraine). In 1959 only 68,000 Poles in Ukraine spoke Polish (19 percent), whereas 69 percent spoke Ukrainian, and 12 percent (mostly urban dwellers) spoke Russian. Of the 1,570,000 Poles and latynnyky who had lived in Western Ukraine (21.9 percent of the local population) only 37,000 remained. The majority of Poles (approximately 209,000, representing 57 percent of the total Polish population of Ukraine) lived in Right-Bank Ukraine, from which fewer had been resettled; only 23,700 of them spoke Polish. They were concentrated in Zhytomyr oblast (103,000) and Khmelnytskyi oblast (70,000). Approximately 45 percent of Poles lived in cities, and 55 percent in the countryside. About 15,000 lived in Lviv, and 8,400 in Kyiv.
By 1970 the number of Poles in Ukraine had dropped to 295,000, or 0.6 percent of the total population; in 1989 the figure stood at 219,000 (0.4 percent).
Polish academic institutions, including libraries and museums, were all merged with Ukrainian ones. Only some were permitted to transfer to Poland, among them the Ossolineum Institute. Polish community and cultural organizations ceased to exist. A few Roman Catholic parishes and schools continued to be active, mainly in Lviv.
Ieremenko, T. Pol'ska natsional'na menshyna v Ukraïni v 20-30-ti rr. XX stolittia (Kyiv 1994)
Kupczak, J. Polacy na Ukrainie w latach 1921–1939 (Wrocław 1994)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]