A Distant Corner of the Eastern Front, 1914

Roger Hudson gives context to a photograph highlighting the plight of Galician Jews after the Russian army's invasion in the Great War.


Today, many would be hard put to say where Galicia was – find Krakow and let your finger run eastwards across the map to Tarnopol (Ternopil). Until 1772 it was in southern Poland, but when Prussia, Russia and Austria set about partitioning that country, it fell to Austria, becoming the northernmost province of its empire. After the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was established in 1867, Galicia came under the part administered by Austria, though bordering on Hungary to the south. There seem to have been larger numbers of Poles than of Ruthenes – Catholic Ukrainians, as distinct from the Orthodox Ukrainians of the Russian empire – and about 12 per cent of the population were Jews. It was the most populous and the poorest province of Austria, probably also in Europe as a whole.  Unsurprisingly, there was mass emigration to Vienna, the US, Canada and Brazil from the 1880s; surprisingly, the Austrians allowed Galicia a good measure of autonomy, not enforcing the speaking of German, allowing a local assembly and administration, though not encouraging investment or industry.

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