10. Jews in Galicia 1939

In discussing this complex ethnic map of Galicia, an area which lies mainly in what is now western Ukraine, we can only touch on those few matters which are of importance to Jewish history. The publisher brings together nationalist former combatants who fought principally against Communism in the ‘14th. Waffen-SS Galicia Division’. There is no proof that its units committed crimes against the Jews.

The map is based on a reconstruction of the local distribution of nationalities in 1939 by one of its former leaders, Volodymyr Kubijovyć. He was a geographer and demographer who took as his basis the Austrian census of 1910, Polish censuses of 1921 and 1931, church registers of 1931-’39 and many interviews in refugee camps from 1945-’48.

Identity is, of course, never unambiguous. During the census of 1910, for instance, in order to strengthen Polish demands, the Polish organisations put severe pressure on the Jews to say that Polish was their language. The census organizers refused to recognise Yiddish as an option, but nonetheless many Galician Jews who used Polish as lingua franca declared Yiddish to be their mother tongue. Hasidic rebbes who abhorred the new Jewish nationalism, however, encouraged their Yiddish-speaking followers to say that they were Polish speakers.

The reconstruction of the ethnic distribution for 1939 should also be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, the yellow segments give a reasonable picture of the proportion and diffusion of Jews in towns and villages in Galicia on the eve of their mass extermination.

Association of Ukrainian Former Combatants in Great Britain (Publ.), Ethnographic Map of South-Western Ukraine, Munich 1953

Association of Ukrainian Former Combatants in Great Britain (Publ.), Ethnographic Map of South-Western Ukraine, Munich 1953