Obraz Czecha w społeczeństwie polskim. Przykład Galicji

Roman Baron


The Image of Czechs in Polish Society: The Example of Galicia

In the Czech historiographical works that have been published to date, due attention has not been paid to Czechs in Galicia. The partial attempts made, whose goal was to evaluate the part Czechs have played in the cultural and social life of Galicia during the period of the Austrian monarchy and from the second half of the eighteenth century until 1918, have been published, and continue to be produced mainly in the milieu of contemporary Ukrainian researchers and Czech compatriots living in Lvov. Both of these groups have also shared in the preparation of a biographical dictionary with the title Češi v Haliči (Czechs in Galicia), which was published in Ukrainian in 1998. In 2007, the association called Czech Gathering (Česká beseda) in Lvov published an exhaustive edition of its documents for the occasion of the 140th anniversary of their founding. In order to annex the territory of Galicia to the Austrian state in the second half of the eighteenth century, Vienna began to send its officials there, and among them, Czechs played a very significant role. As Slavs, they could more easily understand the Polish, Ukrainian or Ruthenian dialects of the local inhabitants. During the nineteenth century, besides the members of the diverse bureaucratic corps, there were also Czech tradesmen and craftsmen, merchants, intellectual and scientific workers, musicians, industrialists, brewers, physicians, foresters, railway workers and, fewest of all, also some peasant farmers. The influence of Czech-nationality officials was vital in forming a negative image of Czechs in Polish society. Poles, mainly from the ranks of the nobility and bourgeoisie, perceived them as an instrument of oppression from the side of the occupation; that is, the Austrian state. Their negative attitude and experiences are reflected in the numerous Polish memoirs describing that era. The so-called “Galician brawls” were extremely significant in this context. These were where farmers who were supported by Austrian bureaucrats squared off in bloody conflict with Polish insurgents, participants in the Krakow Uprising. The subject of the image and stereotypes of Czechs in Polish society in Galicia was treated in literature by the famous Polish writer and publicist of German origin, Jan Lam (1838–1886), who composed the novel Wielki świat Capowic (Great World of Capowice) in 1869. The topic presented here is scholarly from the very beginning and remains a worthy task for further research.

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