Thalerhof

Image - A gate of the Thalerhof internment camp.

Thalerhof (or Talerhof). A village near Graz, Austria, where an internment camp was located during the First World War. Austria-Hungary's initial military failures and the Russian offensive on the eastern front in August and September 1914 resulted in widespread panic and paranoia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thenceforth hundreds of Galician and Bukovynian Russophiles suspected of being Russian sympathizers and fifth columnists were denounced by neighbors and savagely beaten by local mobs and soldiers (especially Hungarian troops). Many were murdered, and many others were court-martialed as traitors and summarily hanged or shot. Thousands of others were arrested and imprisoned or deported to several camps in Austria and Hungary. The arrests were abetted by the Polish-dominated civil service in Galicia, which exploited Austrian fears to undermine the organized Western Ukrainian community. Consequently not only Russophiles but also many nationally conscious Ukrainians were interned. The first 2,000 prisoners at Thalerhof, the largest camp, arrived on 4 September 1914, and by late 1914 the camp held 8,000 prisoners, 5,700 of them Ukrainians. In November 1916 it had 2,717 prisoners; 85 percent were Ukrainian, 76 percent were peasants, and 7 percent were Greek Catholic priests. Between 1914 and 1916, 14,000 internees passed through the camp. Its strict regime, the authorities' arbitrary actions, the starvation rations, the extremely unsanitary conditions, and various outbreaks of typhus and other diseases resulted in a high mortality rate among the prisoners. Although 1,767 deaths were registered, it can be assumed that there were many more; between 17 January and 31 March 1915 alone, 524 people died. The camp was closed down in May 1917. In the interwar years Galicia's Russophiles propagated the cult of ‘Thalerhof martyrs.’ The Thalerhof Committee in Lviv organized two reunions (1928, 1934) and published four volumes (1924–5, 1930, 1932; repr, Trumbull, Conn 1964) of eyewitness accounts of the repressions, deportations, and life in the camp. A Ukrainophile perspective is found in V. Makovsky's 1934 book of memoirs and documents about Thalerhof.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Makovs'kyi, Vasyl'. Talierhof: Spohady i dokumenty (Lviv 1934)

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]




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