Jewish Life in the Eastern Galician Triangle 1860–1939


The ethnically as well as religiously heterogeneous population inhabiting the 49 eastern districts of the Habsburg crown land Galicia in the early 20th century went down in history as the “Eastern Galician Triangle”. Its research raises questions which continue to be highly relevant – also for today’s societies: which social and individual requirements conditioned a lasting peaceful co-existence? How did intercultural conflict evolve and manifest itself – in particular the various forms of anti-Semitism – and which strategies were used to resolve those conflicts?

During the eight decades that are covered in this project, Galicia’s population consisted of 3-5.5 million people: 60–66% were Greek Catholic Ukrainians, 20–30% were Roman Catholic Polish people and 10–13% were Jews. Additionally, there were small groups of Germans and Armenians. The project looks into the life of Eastern Galician Jews with their Ukrainian and Polish neighbours in the various social “scapes” – in villages, towns and cities as well as the industrial area of Boryslaw. On the one hand, population- and economic statistics as well as administrative, police and court files will be drawn on. On the other hand, sources of a more individual character will be compared with each other but also with quantifiable parameters. Examples for these sources are ego-documents (letters, diaries, memoirs) and contemporary literary texts representing all three population groups plus specific places, social milieus, individual female and male perspectives as well as the views and perceptions of individuals. The pooling of subjective and objective, of individual and collective will illustrate the forms of co-living in the respective social scapes and under the corresponding political and constitutional frameworks. Until 1918, Eastern Galicia was part of the Austrian half of the Habsburg monarchy which defined itself as a multi-ethnic state. Between 1918 and 1939, the Galician Jews lived in the Polish nation-state together with their Ukrainian and Polish neighbours; one third of that state’s total population, though, consisted of minorities.

The differing lifeworlds will be opened up to researchers with the help of “culture” as an overarching term. This term encloses symbolic systems with their norms and values, experiences, perceptions as well as ways of thinking and processing thought – ending up in behaviour. Culture, however, encompasses more – the immediate surroundings of people, their economic and social positions and their living conditions. The connection between the lifeworld approach and socio-historical perspectives, the crossing over of various perspectives and perceptions will ensure that bias and narrowed views are avoided.

Similarly to today, the actors of the Eastern Galician Triangle lived in their three parallel universes. Intercultural communication only came into being in specific social scapes. This explains why we often have three historical narratives isolated from each other. The project counteracts fragmentation by enabling an approximation of the whole and looking into shared socio-historical context.  Within this setting, the three ethno-cultural communities and their social layers will be compared in the course of these eight decades.

Information: |mail: Svjatoslav Pacholkiv|

The researchi is funded by the |Austrian Science Fund| (FWF)

Image information: The emigrant house in Lviv (1930) was a common point of contact for Jewish, Ukrainian and Polish immigrants, who received temporary accommodation, as well as advice and training. It was financed and built by Jewish, Ukrainian and Polish cooperatives © Zentrales Staatliches Historisches Archiv der Ukraine in Lemberg (CDIAUL), Fond 854 - Verband der Sozialorganisationen für Emigrantenbetreuung in Lemberg and |Nationales Digitalarchiv| (Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe)

Emigrant house in Lviv in 1930 © Nationales Digitalarchiv