In the Light of Vienna

Jews in Lviv - between Tradition and Modernisation (1867-1914)

by Łukasz Sroka (Author)
©2018 Monographs 436 Pages


The book constitutes an innovative study devoted to modernisation processes among Lviv Jews during the period of Galicia’s autonomy (1867-1914). It takes into account Vienna’s influence on various areas of life. The author reconstructs a triad which is quite surprising: Vienna was at its top, Lviv below, and the Galician province figured at the bottom. Key processes and events are presented, including the success and failure of assimilation, the shaping of modern Jewish elites, political and religious conflicts, the birth of Zionism, economic and political migration, and the influence of Jews on the creation of modern Lviv. The book draws on numerous and often untapped sources from Polish, Ukrainian and Austrian archives.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1 Social, professional and demographic transformations among the Jewish population
  • 1.1 Introduction to the subject
  • 1.2 Socio-demographic processes and phenomena
  • 1.3 Professional relations
  • 1.4 Jewish philanthropy
  • 1.5 Summary
  • 2 The Jewish Religious Community in Lviv. A haven of tradition and a laboratory of changes
  • 2.1 Introduction to the subject
  • 2.2 In the face of new religious, ideological and political currents
  • 2.3 In the period of autonomy. The activity of the community and its external relations
  • 2.4 Summary
  • 3 Scientific and cultural life
  • 3.1 Introduction to the subject
  • 3.2 Education. The catalyst and mirror of modernisation transformations
  • 3.3 Within university walls. The birth of a modern Jewish intelligentsia
  • 3.4 The creators and propagators of culture
  • 3.5 Summary
  • 4 Socio-political life and its currents
  • 4.1 Introduction to the subject
  • 4.2 The rise and fall of the assimilation current
  • 4.3 The bond with socialism as a reply to the breakdown of assimilation. Fear of modernity
  • 4.4 The Zionist current. Towards the Jewish state
  • 4.5 From fortitude to physical prowess
  • 4.6 In the name of fraternity. Leopolis – the Lviv B’nai B’rith lodge
  • 4.7 Summary
  • Conclusion
  • List of charts
  • List of illustrations
  • List of tables
  • Bibliography
  • Index


In consequence of the Second World War, Jews became great absentees in Lviv. The Holocaust brought the end of Jewish communities in many European cities, but there were often at least monuments left, constituting eloquent testimony of the great Jewish history. In Lviv, the Nazis were systematically and purposefully destroying all the objects related to the Jewish community, including synagogues and cemeteries. Therefore, the commemoration of Lviv Jews is a moral duty of those living today, as they participated in building the city for ages and contributed significantly to its development in various disciplines. Among them, there were outstanding entrepreneurs, petty merchants, craftsmen, creators and propagators of culture, intellectuals, and politicians. The consistency with which they created the infrastructure serving religious purposes is impressive, and their reaction to the modernisation processes emerging in various areas of everyday activity is intriguing. It forces us to think about their extraordinary openness to the political and cultural impact of Vienna. Finally, we have to remember that we are talking about a community which constituted about one third of all Lviv inhabitants in the period analysed here. Moreover, a scientific monograph based on an objective and critical analysis seems to be the best way for a historian to take an active part in commemorating Lviv Jews.

The studies on the history and culture of Lviv have an impressive tradition. So far, it was discussed by, among others, Łucja Charewiczowa1, Józef Skoczek2, Helena Madurowicz-Urbańska3 and Isabel ←7 | 8→Röskau-Rydel4. Christoph Augustynowicz presented the activity of Austrian scholars in an interesting manner5. In my article, I described the output of historiography and the research postulates related to the history and culture of Lviv Jews6. For researchers interested in the history of Lviv Jews, Jakub Chonigsman and Wacław Wierzbieniec’s article entitled Źródła do dziejów Żydów w zasobie Centralnego Państwowego Archiwum Historycznego we Lwowie7 is highly useful. The analysis of the current state and the diagnosis of needs related to studies on Galicia were proposed by the participants of the International Scientific Conference “The history of Galicia 1772-1918. Methodological problems, the current state of research and its needs” (Rzeszów-Czudec, 18th-19th November 2010). The outcome of that event is a three-volume work introduced by Jerzy Maternicki, published under the same title in Rzeszów in 2011 and edited by Agnieszka Kawalec, Wacław Wierzbieniec and Leonid Zaszkilniak. Interesting remarks on Galician historiography were also made in the book by Witalij Telwak and Wasil Pedicz entitled Львіввска історична школа Михайла Грушевського (Lviv Historical School of Mikhail Hruszewski)8.

The pioneering role in modern critical-analytical research on the history of Lviv Jews has to be assigned to Meir Balaban (1877-1942), a historian, orientalist, pedagogue and rabbi. He derived from a Lviv merchant fmily. He completed historical studies at the University of Lviv under Szymon Askenazy. At the beginning of the 20th century, he published several research works. They heralded his great writing and research talents, which were fully developed in the interwar period. Balaban’s research interests encompassed almost the whole territory of the former Republic of Poland, but Galician Jews, including Jewish inhabitants of Lviv, were particularly important for him. We owe him remarkable ←8 | 9→works which have not lost their relevance and constitute a source of knowledge and inspiration for subsequent generations of historians. When it comes to Lviv, the following publications should be mentioned in the first place: Historia lwowskiej synagogi postępowej9, Dzielnica żydowska. Jej dzieje i zabytki10, Historia projektu szkoły rabinów i nauki religii mojżeszowej na ziemiach polskich11, and Żydzi lwowscy12. The influence of the Austrian government on Galician Jews was soon noticed as a research subject. An example of that is Józef Buzek’s work entitled Wpływ polityki żydowskiej rządu austriackiego w latach 1772-1778 na wzrost zaludnienia żydowskiego w Galicji (Kraków 1903). Later, however, that research direction was abandoned.

After the Second World War Lviv became a part of the Soviet Union. The activity of local historians was redirected to other research areas, and Lviv Jews did not even find themselves on their margin. If they were present in historical works, it was almost exclusively in the context of the Shoah. Moreover, they were publications of a clear political motivation. The exploration of resources gathered in Lviv archives was impeded or even impossible for Polish and Ukrainian researchers, even though there were not many willing to conduct research in the atmosphere of political pressure and due to censorship. At the same time, Galicia and Lviv disappeared from Austrian researchers’ sight. There were probably many reasons for that. Austria became one of the independent and democratic countries, on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Apart from that, the territorially reduced state was no longer bordered by Poland or Ukraine (between 1919 and 1991 with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). In Vienna, Galicia became a sort of a taboo. In fact, the province was acquired by the Habsburgs from their neighbours using military means, and their policy was on a long list of the inter-Austrian settlement with the past. In Austria, unlike Poland or the Soviet Union, the Jewish studies were developing successfully; however, Galician Jews did not play a relevant role there for a long time.

In Poland, the first signs of the renaissance of the Jewish subject was brought by the 1980s. The symbol of the forthcoming transformation was the double issue of a monthly “Znak” from 1983, devoted exclusively to the history and culture of Jews13. In 1914, a conference regarding the Polish-Jewish relations in modern ←9 | 10→history took place in Oxford14. In 1987, a notable essay of Jan Błoński entitled Biedni Polacy patrzą na getto [Poor Poles look at the ghetto] was published by “Tygodnik Powszechny”15. Conducting unfettered studies on the history of Lviv and its Jewish inhabitants was possible only after the democratic transformation at the turn of the 1990s. A watershed point was the proclamation of the independence of Ukraine in 1991. As a result, the local archives were fully opened, which made it possible for historians to access unique and often unexplored documents. Both in Poland and in Ukraine, there emerged a huge demand for historical works which could fill the widespread “black holes”. The normalisation of Polish-Ukrainian relations resulted in a research project “Lviv. City – society – culture”, which has been executed by the Pedagogical University of Krakow and the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv since 1992. Within the project in question, scientific conferences of the same title are organised every second year, alternatively in Krakow and Lviv. Consequently, subsequent post-conference volumes are published, where we can find articles devoted to the Jewish issue in various epochs16. Tomasz Gąsowski’s famous book entitled Między gettem a światem. Dylematy ideowe Żydów galicyjskich na przełomie XIX i XX wieku [Between the ghetto and the world. Ideological dilemmas of Galician Jews at the ←10 | 11→turn of the 20th century] (first edition: Krakow 1996) has a breakthrough character. Researchers interested in the history of Galician Jews obtained for the first time a modern monograph study written in Polish, summarising the state of research of the time, referring to the output of Polish and foreign scholars, and, above all, introducing numerous new findings formulated on the basis of the sources that had not been explored before17.

The works by Kazimierz Rędziński concerning the education of Jews are pioneering and particularly valuable in character18. In fact, it is an issue strictly connected with the opening up to the world of the Jewish society. Allowing Jews to learn in public schools was a milestone on their way to emancipation. On the other hand, their presence at universities started the creation process of the modern and secular Jewish intelligentsia, which soon became one of the main elite groups in the environment, as despite major changes, Jews still gave due weight to education. In their hierarchy of importance, a well-educated person was higher than a wealthy one. However, modernisation processes resulted in a situation in which, apart from rabbis and the scribes, representatives of secular disciplines were also considered authorities. The Jewish education became also a subject of extended studies of Mirosław Łapot19. We owe to this author in-depth ←11 | 12→works on the Jewish orphans in Lviv20. The importance of these studies lies in the fact that the system of care and formation of orphans created by Jews reflects the Jewish specificity. Following Mirosław Łapot: “The care and formation of a Jewish orphan was shaped in specific conditions of national, religious, and cultural diversity of Jews. The diversity in question was due to the efforts to preserve their own identity, but also to the aversion of the environment, which distrusted all kinds of “otherness.” The living conditions in exile, pogroms and anti-Jewish riots in Europe, local and national acts de non tolerandis Judaeis contributed to the creation of an efficient social assistance system by Jews. It included orphaned children too”21.

It is also worth mentioning works which gave us general knowledge on ethnic relations in the Danubian monarchy, especially a splendid book by Henryk Wereszycki entitled Pod berłem Habsburgów. Zagadnienia narodowościowe [Under the Habsburg rule. Ethnic issues]22. In the history of Polish historiography, a new school of studies on political relations in the Habsburg monarchy was created by Waldemar Łazuga, the author of such works as “Rządy polskiew Austrii. Gabinet Kazimierza hr. Badeniego 1895-1897 [“The Polish rule in AustriaThe cabinet of Count Kazimierz Badeni]23 and Kalkulować… Polacy na szczytach C.K. Monarchii [To calculate… Poles at summits of the Imperial-Royal Monarchy]24. Damian Szymczak, a student of professor Waldemar Łazuga, is the author of the work entitled Galicyjskaambasadaw Wiedniu. Dzieje ministerstwa dla Galicji ←12 | 13→1871-1918 [The Galicianembassyin Vienna. The history of the ministry for Galicia 1871-1918]25. An insight into the attitudes of Jews in the Austrian parliament is given by a book by Stanisław Pijaj entitled Opozycja w wiedeńskiej Radzie Państwa w latach siedemdziesiątych XIX w. Skład – organizacja – funkcjonowanie (Opposition in the Vienna State Council in the 1870s. Composition - organisation – functioning)26.

In 1994, the first post-war synthesis related to the history of local Jews was published in Lviv in the Russian language. It was entitled Евреи во Львове (XIII – первая половина XX века). События – общество – люди [Jews in Lviv. 13th century – the first half of the 20th century. Events – society – people) and prepared by Władimir Mełamed. Two chapters of the book relate to the 19th century: Under the Habsburg rule 1772-1848 (pp. 98–106) and Fighting for equal rights and national revival 1849-1918 (pp. 107–136). An unquestionable contribution of the author is his interesting narration and the indication of research possibilities connected with the availability of the collections gathered in Lviv archives. Nevertheless, due to the scope limitations typical of a synthesis, the period which interests us the most was covered summarily; therefore, the abovementioned work did not fill the demand for a monograph concerning the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

Among the works published in recent times, the contribution of Oksana Bojko’s book entitled Синагоги Львова [The synagogues of Lviv] to the knowledge of the history of Lviv Jews is particular. The author, due to her architectural education, paid special attention to the architecture and furnishing of synagogues. Maria Wowczko, on the other hand, is the author of original and well-based, when it comes to the resources, studies related to the conversion of Lviv Jews in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century27, as well as the social integration in the territory of Galicia which then took place28.

A lot of detailed information and a vast array of opinions on the history of Jews in Ukraine is presented in a collective work entitled Нариси з історії та культури євреїв України [Sketches on the history and culture of Ukrainian ←13 | 14→Jews], which was published in Kyiv in 2008 and edited by Leonid Finberg and Wołodymir Liubczenko. The article by Igor Monolatyj entitled Єврї в імперії Габсбургів (1772-1918) [Jews in the Habsburg Empire (1772-1918), pp. 97–116] seems to be the closest to the issues raised in the present book.

After the Second World War, Austrian historians found themselves in a complex socio-political situation. After the First World War, Austria had already not only lost Galicia, but it also bordered with it no longer. Naturally, it lessened the interest in that territory among the inhabitants of Austria. Just after the end of the Second World War, the Austrians began a settlement with their own history. In that context, mentioning Galicia was equivocal in character, as it was a political organism which emerged in consequence of the partitions of the Republic of Poland. Meanwhile, Austria distanced itself clearly from the policy of conquest. On the other hand, Austrian citizens, often of Polish or Ukrainian origin, started to speak up for “their” history. Americans also turned to Austrian historians, as experts on the history of Galicia, especially when reviewers of doctoral dissertations or books about the province were needed (Polish and, especially, Ukrainian researchers were in isolation from the world due to the Iron Curtain). A decisive reorientation in the Austrian way of thinking about Galicia took place at the beginning of the 1990s. Austrians could no longer stay indifferent to the renaissance of the Galician myth, which was noticeable in Poland and Ukraine. It resulted in as increased interest in professional studies on the history of Galicia; however, there were certain impediments to a wider development of this kind of research, enumerated by Christoph Augustynowicz:

Despite the obstacles mentioned above, the output of Austrian scholars is impressive. Today it is hard to imagine serious writing about Galicia which would ignore the source of knowledge accumulated by the Austrians. Therefore, it seems indispensable to refer to the above-cited work by Christoph Augustynowicz, which introduces both the edited works and those in typescript, including, for instance, unpublished dissertations on Galicia. Research projects of particular importance are conducted by an international and interdisciplinary body established at the initiative of Andreas Kappeler in 2007 at the University of Vienna, realising a research subject entitled “Galicia and its multicultural environment”30. Jews are ←14 | 15→also within the scope of research explorations conducted by Austrian historians. One of the first works on the history of Galician Jews published in Austria in the 1990s is Karin Röder’s book entitled Die galizischen Juden unter Kaiser Franz Josef I31. Numerous references to Lviv are made in Harald Binder’s monumental works: Galizien in Wien. Parteien, Wahlen, Fraktionen Und Abgeordnete im Übergang zur Massenpolitik32 and Polen, Ruthenen, Juden. Politik und Politiker in Galizien 1897-191833. Binder set a new standard in the studies on the history of Galicia. The masterpiece character of his works is a result of extensive and diligent archival research, very good knowledge of international literature and precision of thoughts. From the point of view of the subject discussed by me, Klaus Hödl’s output is particularly important. I referred to two of his works devoted to the migration of Galician Jews to Vienna and their life in that city: Als Bettler in die Leopoldstadt. Galizische Juden auf dem Weg nach Wien34 and Galician Jewish Migration to Vienna35. The subject matter was also analysed in a collective work of a high scientific level entitled Zwischen Ost und West. Galizische Juden in Wien, which was edited by Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz36. An indispensable work in the library of the Galician Jews’ history researcher is the book by Francisca Solomon entitled Blicke auf das galizische Judentum: Haskala, Assimilation und Zionismus bei Nathan Samuely, Karl Emil Franzos und Saul Raphael Landau37, bringing an image of the most important socio-political transformations which occurred among Galician Jews. The uniqueness of this book is a result of the author’s remarkable workshop and the fact that it presents focused images of selected cities (Lviv, Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Boryslav) and figures (mainly those enumerated in the title) instead of a regular lecture. The writing output of Erwin A. Schmidl, the precursor of studies on the history of the Jewish service in the Austrian army, should also be mentioned. We owe to this researcher such works as Habsburgs jüdische Soldaten 1788-191838, Juden in der k. u. k. Armee 1788-191839. They provide a great insight into the religious, moral and political context of the participation of Jews in the Habsburg army. In many places, these ←15 | 16→works offer notes on Lviv. The question of modernisation is connected with the generally understood socio-economic development of Galicia, which also touches upon Jews. The most recent and best studies presenting the dependencies between the politics and economic transformations of Galicia can be found in Klemens Kaps’ book entitled Ungleiche Entwicklung in Zentraleuropa. Galizien zwischen überregionaler Verflechtung und imperialer Politik (1772-1914)40.

The history of Jews in Lviv and in Galicia if often the subject of works written in English. The problem of assimilation of Lviv Jews is discussed in detail by Ezra Mendelsohn in his articles: “From Assimilation to Zionism in Lvov: The Case of Alfred Nossig” (The Slavonic and East European Review)41 and “Jewish Assimilation in Lvov: The Case of Wilhelm Feldman” (Slavic Review)42. Lviv Jews also found an appropriate place in one of the volumes of Polin. Studies in Polish Jewry, which was titled “Jews and Ukrainians”43. The longest article refers to the modern times44; yet, several facts regarding the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century can be found in other texts. An example here can be Sergey R. Kravstov’s article “A Note on the Names of the Golden Rose Synagogue in Lviv”45. Valuable findings concerning the presence of Jews in the public sphere of Lviv can also be found in Markian Prokopovych’s book entitled Habsburg Lemberg. Architecture, Public Space, and Politics in the Galician Capital, 1772-1914 (West Lafayette 2009). The subject of shaping modern national identity of Galician Jews was discussed by Joshua Shanes in his work entitled Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish Identity in Habsburg Galicia46.

The publications listed above prove that the interest in the history of Lviv Jews is growing among scholars representing renowned scientific centres in Poland, Ukraine, Austria, the USA, and other countries. In consequence, there number or works at a very high scientific level is relatively big. They are complemented by original works regarding the history of Vienna or the whole Austria-Hungary. A good example here is the book written by Egon Schwarz and entitled Wiend und die Juden. Essays zum Fin de siècle47, which contains new findings on the ←16 | 17→impact of Jews in the development of art and literature. In Edgard Haider’s book Wien 1914. Alltag am Rande des Abgrunds the reader can find valuable reflections of the author and numerous quotations from the epoch related to the birth of modern anti-Semitism and its influence on the life of Vienna Jews48. Brigitte Hamann’s book Hitler’s Vienna: A Dictator’s Apprenticeship turned out to be very useful in general understanding of the position of Jews in Vienna49.

While working on this book, studies of scholars analysing modernisation processes in Central European cities were useful. In most cases, I turned to in-depth reflections of Klemens Zimmermann’s Die Zeit der Metropolen. Urbanisierung und Großstadtentwicklung50 and Moritz Csáky’s Das Gedächtnis der Städte. Kulturelle Verflechtungen – Wien und die urbanen Milieus in Zentraleuropa51. A classic book in the genre of urban studies is Lewis Mumfold’s The City in History. Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects52.

My literary guides to the old Galicia and the Habsburg monarchy are, first of all, Joseph Roth (1894-1939), and then Wilhelm Feldman (1868-1919). I will come back to both of them later in the book. Here, I would like to mention that the two of them were born in frontier Galician towns, the former in Brody, and the latter in Zbarazh. Roth was a popular Austrian writer and journalist53. He described the Jewish community of Eastern Galicia in the form of short stories, essays and press articles. He devoted a lot of attention to Vienna, where he studied and later started his professional career. He developed a unique style, which unites decadence, irony and surgical precision of thoughts. Many of his books concern the social relations in the Habsburg Empire. He never accepted its fall. The decision of exposing Roth was not only a result of my own belief ←17 | 18→that he was a clever observer and a talented writer. That is not all. Writing a dissertation for a wide circle of readers I decided to reach for Jewish literature as it was well-received in Central and Western Europe. It is mentioned by Stefan H. Kaszyński: “In the eyes of the West, Galician literature is associated mainly with Jewish literature anyway, as it always appeared as crystal and independent when it comes to the world view, and, unlike other literary documents from the region, did not constitute a part of national literature of ethnic groups living in the former Galicia”54. The fact that Joseph Roth wrote his original works in German is also meaningful. Meanwhile, the majority of Polish writers wrote almost exclusively in their mother tongue, which was not known outside the borders of Poland. In the present book, the Reader will find references to the following works by Roth: Żydzi ze Wschodu na Zachodzie [Jews from the East in the West]55, Wiedeńskie znaki czasu. Felietony z lat 1915-1919 [Vienna Signs of the Time. Essays from 1915-1919]56, Popiersie cesarza [The Bust of the Emperor], Naczelnik stacji Fallmerayer [Fallmerayer the Stationmaster] and Lewiatan [The Leviathan]57. Wilhelm Feldman, a publicist, critic and historian of literature is, among others, the author of the novel entitled Żydziak. Szkic psychologiczno-społeczny [The Hymie. A psycho-social outline]58. It is a sharp portrait of the generation of young Jews leaving shtetls and heading for big cities, mainly to Lviv and Vienna in search of their own identity and a better lofe. Feldman also published numerous scientific and popular science works, which constitute a reference point for subsequent generations of researchers interested in the subject of Polish-Jewish coexistence and the Polish political thought. For the purpose of writing the present book, I used three of his publications: Asymilatorzy, syjoniści i Polacy. Z powodu przełomu w stosunkach żydowskich w Galicyi [Assimilators, Zionists and Poles. On the Occasion of a Breakthrough in Jewish Relations in Galicia]59, Dzieje polskiej myśli politycznej 1864-1914 [The History of the Polish ←18 | 19→Political Thought]60 and O żargonie żydowskim. Studjum publicystyczne [On the Jewish Jargon. A Journalistic Study]61.

Summarising the historiographic output it should be noted that, despite the impressive history of studies on the past of Polish Jews, followed with a series of works on related subjects, the scale of backlog is still huge. A monograph concerning the modernisation of Lviv Jews in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century has not been published so far. The present book constitutes at least an attempt at filling the abovementioned gap. An additional task set by the author is stimulating the discussion about Lviv Jews and enriching it with so-far unpublished archived materials.

However, the main purpose of the present work is to analyse the social, political and cultural phenomena and processes observable among Lviv Jews at the time of the Galician autonomy (1867-1914). The beginning of that period is formally set by the proclamation of the autonomy and introduction of equal rights for Jews in the Habsburg monarchy, and it ends with the outbreak of the First World War. It was marked with numerous significant transformations which were strictly connected with universal tendencies present in all parts of Europe, and indeed constituting an attempt at answering civilisation transformations and modernisation currents. In the Jewish society, we can come across reactions resulting from both opening up to new trends and closing to them. Modernity provoked enthusiasm and creativity, yet it could also be a source of fear. The principle in question can be noticed among Poles, Germans, French- or Englishmen of the time. Different attitudes expressed by representatives of these nations were connected with their varied historical experiences, cultural, economic and political circumstances. Therefore, we can find among Jews supporters of democracy, social democracy or liberalism. However, there is also the desire for assimilation, so typical of their nature, and Zionism, opposing this desire. The phenomenon of acculturation, which does not equal assimilation, was common. Mainly among Zionists, there were many people related to the Polish culture, preserving their national identity. The geopolitical location of Lviv, situated at the interface of eastern and western civilisation influences, in the place where the interests of different empires, mainly Austria-Hungary and Russia, crossed, provided additional context to the history of Lviv Jews. The proximity of Vienna and a range of political conditions resulted in a situation in which Jews found themselves in the orbit of the city, which constituted a cultural, political, scientific and economic ←19 | 20→centre. Therefore, the history of Lviv Jews is not another mutation of the history of Polish Jews, it is also not easy to relate it to the history of Jews in Ukraine, as the phenomenon in question is complex in nature. Lviv Jews (regardless of their own intentions) became part of the pan-Habsburg union. It was a result of numerous factors, including, for instance, the Austrian education system and equality of rights which was granted to Jews out of the Habsburgs’ volition. However, it is difficult to describe the history of Lviv Jews only as a component of the history of all Jews in the Habsburg monarchy. Polish, but also Ukrainian cultural impact is too visible among Lviv Jews. The entirety of relations present in Lviv was significantly conditioned by the capital character of the city, located in the territory of multicultural Galicia, being a province created from the south-east part of the First Republic of Poland. The possibilities of development of the city’s Jewish community was conditioned not only by the ethical and religious mosaic of Galicia (especially Eastern Galicia), but also its economic and demographic potential.

It had to be explained which factors influenced the community in question externally, and which of them were co-created by its members. There are also questions regarding the significance hierarchy of individual factors. Among the basic research aims, there was also the analysis of dependencies between social, cultural and political transformations and the organisation of Jews in Lviv; what is meant here are the transformations occurring in the religious community (the structure, competencies) and in Lviv Jewish social, political and cultural organisations. Those of them were chosen, whose emergence constituted a reply to new needs of the Jewish population. Comparative research allowed for indicating differences and similarities occurring between Lviv and other metropolis of the Habsburg monarchy and Central-Eastern Europe. The conducted research made it possible to recreate the organisational structure of Lviv Jews in the period of Galician autonomy; moreover, the most important social, political and cultural phenomena and processes were characterised. The comparison with other cities of this part of Europe allowed the evaluation of the scale of observed transformations and their specificity. The factors provoking and conditioning social modernisation, as well as the reasons for which the majority of the Jewish community stayed faithful to traditional values and organisational forms verified in previous generations were described. The material gathered on the basis of mass sources was structured using statistical methods. The prosopographic method was utilised in the stratification of Lviv population.

The multicultural character of Lviv calls for systematisation of names and notions I use which are related to national and religious phenomena. Among the most important ones, there is the rudimental question of who the Jew is. ←20 | 21→Following Geoffrey Wigoder and his colleagues, the authors of the Dictionary of Jewish Biography, I referred to “(…) the traditional religious assumption that a person who was born Jewish will stay Jewish »regardless of how much they sin«. It concerns also those who abandoned Judaism (…)”62. I also consider Jews people whose one parent was a member of this national group. A similar interpretation was applied by Yuri Slezkine, the author of the highly popular in the international environment book entitled The Jewish Century (Polish edition: Warsaw 2006)63. The related discussion was interestingly extended by Moshe Rosman, who asked: “Who are Jews?”64. According to him, “interaction between genealogy, religion, mutual history and other factors leads to the situation in which classifying Jews in any of conventional categories is practically impossible”65. Rosman recalls the most important opinions that have been expressed so far in that matter:

The Zionist “Jerusalem school” of Jewish historiography “understood history (…) the way it was understood by non-Jewish scholars in the 19th century – as the history of the nation”. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, under the influence of his teacher, Salo Baron (who emphasised the mutual correlation between the Jewish religion and the Jewish nation), considered Jews “a unique fusion of the category of religion and people”. Anna Foa, one of the voices of modern European Jewish science, described Jews both as a “nation” and as “people”, but seemed to suggest that the content of the Jewish identity can be expressed not as an example of a standard, general category, but as a collection of elements. (…). On the other hand, David Biale in his Culture of Jews expressed his conviction that the notion of the “nation” is correct in reference to Jews. He was not certain, however, whether “Jews” are a homogeneous being. He attempted at solving this dilemma by introducing the dialectics of the notion of one Jewish nation and mutual Jewish culture on the one hand, and the history of numerous communities and cultures on the other (…) The Jewish nation was one, but it was heterogeneous at the same time.

It also had to be decided how to use the notions of “a German” and “an Austrian”. In the period analysed here, the two terms were used interchangeably (traces of that can be noticed both in sources and in historiography). The Austrian ←21 | 22→identity was growing gradually. We are talking here about the process in which watershed moments can be observed: rivalry and armed conflicts between Prussia and Austria, the shaping of modern German nationalism (which was based on the culture and social and political relations applied in Prussia, and was clearly anti-Habsburg and anti-Catholic at the same time), the outbreak of the Great War and the fall of Austria-Hungary, then the outbreak of the Second World War and the trauma after its end, which required a definite position of Austria towards Germany66. For the abovementioned reasons I use the notion of “German culture” most often, as it is more capacious and includes dependencies difficult to separate, for instance the production of writers, artists and scientists related to locations of the present Austria or Germany. In any case, the German language constituted the main adhesive for that culture. Consequently, I regard as “Germans” the broadly-understood population related to the German culture and using the German language, excluding Germanised Jews only, as following what I have written above, they are considered Jews regardless of how far their assimilation or acculturation processes are. I use the terms “Austria” and “Austrians” only to refer to the Habsburg Empire and their state apparatus; however, it should be remembered that from the formal point of view, Poles employed in the offices of the monarchy were also considered Austrian officials.

Archival sources constitute the basis of the scientific workshop. Among the most important ones, there are documents written in the course of activity of the most relevant institutions creating the Jewish religious, social, political and cultural life in Lviv. I also analysed in detail personal materials of the leading figures in the Jewish community. The documents in question were preserved in the Central State Archives of Ukraine in Lviv (Центральний Державний Історичний Архів України у Львові/Centralnyj Derżawnyj Istorycznyj Archiw Ukrajiny u Lwowi; CDIA), in which they create fonds (sets) constituting the Jewish legacy. The most important of them is the fond no. 701: “The Israeli Religious Community in Lviv”. It contains 5672 archival units, among which the key role is played by statutes, programmes, appeals, reports, protocols and the correspondence of the Jewish Religious Community in Lviv, and a number of charity foundations and social, political, educational or cultural institutions67. ←22 | 23→The second most important fond is given no. 338 and titled “The National Zionist Organisation in Lviv”. It contains a lot of valuable information on people and organisations belonging to the Zionist movement68. A clear shaft of light is shed on the background of the functioning of Jewish societies by the documents creating the fond no. 146: “The Galician Governorship in Lviv”69.

I also carried out research in the State Archives of Lviv Oblast (Державний Aрхів Львівської Oбласті/Derżawnyj Archiw Lwiwśkoji Obłasti - DALO), where there is, among others, the fond no. 3: “The Magistrate of the Royal Capital City of Lviv”. It is created with documents related to the work of the local government and the socio-economic development of the city70. I attach to them ←23 | 24→considerable importance as they often refer to the relations between the local government and the Jewish community. The research of fonds gathering the materials of the former University of Lviv turned out to be very useful71. Among the most significant ones, there are documents written by students and lecturers of the university, which allowed for complementation or verification of personal data in many cases. A large source of knowledge are unpublished essays, master or doctoral dissertations. Their language and methods can be considered archaic today; however, many of them were created on the basis of archival materials which were partially or totally destroyed during consecutive wars72.←24 | 25→

The research in the National Archives in Krakow (hereinafter: ANK) bore good fruitage in the form of materials describing the functioning of the Lviv lodge “Leopolis” affiliated in the Independent Order B’nai B’rith (Synowie Przymierza). In the archives of ANK, there is a collection entitled “The Archives of the Society of Jewish Humanitarian Aid Associations »B’nai B’rith« in Krakow (1892–1938)”. It contains mainly materials concerning the Solidarity, which was the B’nai B’rith lodge in Krakow. There are also varied materials related to Leopolis, so as an annual report on activity, correspondence, bulletins, invitations, speeches and essays read during various meetings and historical analyses73. The high rank of these sources results from the fact that they present the mechanisms of functioning of the society which concentrated the most influential members of secular Jewish elites in Lviv. It is worth adding that in Lviv there are practically none, with minor exceptions, materials created by Leopolis, the collections of Krakow are therefore unique in character. Obviously, it cannot be ruled out that in the future, for instance, due to further cleaning-up works in Lviv archives, ←25 | 26→new documents of the Lviv lodge of B’nai B’rith will come to light. However, at present, it has to be assumed that the abovementioned archival set contains the majority of the known legacy of Leopolis.

I used Austrian archival materials to a lesser extent. The research involved mainly the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv (National Archives of Austria). An analysis of materials created by Austro-Hungarian consular services in Jerusalem proved to be particularly interesting. There are, for instance, materials describing the Jewish emigration to Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel) municipal institutions are fundamentally important. In this context, the output of Austrian statistics was used and its significant publisher is “Oesterreichische Statistik”74; moreover, publications issued in Lviv: “Lwów w Cyfrach” (“Lviv in Numbers”)75, “Wiadomości Statystyczne o Mieście Lwowie” (“Statistical News on the City of Lviv”)76, “Wiadomości Statystyczne o Stosunkach Krajowych” (“Statistical News ←26 | 27→on National Relations”)77 and “Podręcznik statystyki Galicyi” (“The Handbook of Galician Statistics”)78.

Official and institutional documents were complemented with books of remembrance, memoirs and memorial materials. For me, one of the most valuable ones is the diary of Wiktor Chajes, a social activist and a vice-president of the city. It contains detailed notes concerning various people and important events occurring in Lviv. Finally, it constitutes an interesting testimony of a metamorphosis of a man, initially believing in the project of the Jewish assimilation, who was then deeply disillusioned and began to speak thoughtfully about the Zionist idea (although he criticised all political concepts and environments until his death)79. Clear signs of care and ambition of Lviv intelligentsia are present in journals and diaries of Bernard Połoniecki, a bookseller and publisher. They also reflect the mentality of an assimilated Jew, who tried to sever his relationship with the community he had been raised in80. A rich source of knowledge on the relations in the business and political communities of Lviv at the turn of the 20th century are Wspomnienia [Memories] of Jan Jerzy Rucker, a pharmacist, industrialist and city councillor81. An in-depth view on the shaping process of the Galician political scene is provided by Herman Diamand, a lawyer, socialist politician, Member of State Council in Lviv and later Member of the ←27 | 28→Polish Parliament, in his Pamiętnik [A Diary]82. I also found a lot of valuable information referring to the social life and customs in Lviv83.←28 | 29→

The scientific workshop contains also press. Many complete series can be found in the Library of the University of Lviv. The whole is complemented with correspondence, diaries and memorial materials. The sources of this category are the most scattered ones, although some of them were edited. Press research are greatly facilitated by the professional elaborations by Jerzy Jarowiecki, mainly in his two books: Prasa lwowska w latach 1864-1918. Bibliografia [Lviv press between 1862 and 1918. A bibliography84 and Dzieje prasy polskiej we Lwowie do 1945 roku [The history of Polish press in Lviv until 1945]85.

The preparation of the present book was possible thanks to a research grant (UMO-2012/07/B/HS3/03729) obtained in 2013 from the National Science Centre. I would like to thank his Magnificence Professor Kazimierz Karolczak, the Rector of the Pedagogical University of Krakow, Professor Bożena Popiołek, currently the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and the Head of the Institute of History and Archival Studies of the University in the years the most intensive work on the book, for providing me with excellent working conditions. The help obtained from Professor Mariusz Wołos, the Pro-Rector for Research at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, turned out to be essential in the process of publishing this book. I am honored for the patronage of the Austrian Culture Forum in Warsaw, for which I would like to express my gratitude here. I would like to thank Professor Zdzisław Noga, who was the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Pedagogical University of Krakow for the majority of my writing period, for all the help and valuable tips relating to the organisation of work and the methods utilised. I also thank Professor Maria Konopka for meaningful discussions.

I want to thank Professor Roman Szust, the Dean of the Faculty of History at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, for organisational help and methodological consultations. During the years of research in Lviv archives and libraries I repetitively enjoyed the help of my friends: Doctor Ołena Arkusza from the Iwan Krypiakiewicz Institute of Ukrainian Studies NAN of Ukraine, Docent Marian Mudry, the Pro-Dean of the Faculty of History at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, and I would like to thank them all here. I also owe my gratitude to directorate and employees of the Central State Archives of Ukraine ←29 | 30→in Lviv, the State Archives of Lviv Oblast and the Library of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. I would also like to thank my colleague and an expert of the history of Galician Jews, Igor Smolski, the Head of the Department of Providing Access to the Collections of the Central State Archives of Ukraine in Lviv. I would like to thank Ph.D. Volodymyr Dolinovski for his help and expert advice in terms of archival queries. I also thank Professor Leonid Zaszkilniak and Roman Syrota for their advice on references and all their assistance.

I want to express my thanks to the reviewers of the book, the renowned professors Antony Polonsky, Christoph Augustynowicz, Tomasz Gąsowski and the aforementioned Marian Mudryj. All their valuable comments allowed me to give this work the final shape.

In my research on the history and the culture of the Jews, I always receive financial and organizational support from Marcel and Bianka Goldman. I very much appreciate the friendship between us. I respect all suggestions and advice from Marcel Goldman. A successful man, a great erudite and a witness to history.

I want to thank my friend, Doctor Konrad Meus for his generous help, valuable advice concerning scientific methods and indispensable company during archival research in Lviv and Vienna. Finally, my dearest Anna and Joachim, thank you for support and understanding.


1See: Ł. Charewiczowa, “Dziesięciolecie badań nad dziejami miasta Lwowa”, Kwartalnik Historyczny 1929, vol. 43, b. 2, pp. 115–136; eadem, “Historiografia i miłośnictwo miasta Lwowa”, Biblioteka Lwowska, vol. 37, Lwów 1938.

2See: J. Skoczek, “Dotychczasowy stan badań nad historią Lwowa”, Kwartalnik Historyczny 1925, vol. 39, b. 2, pp. 336–350.

3See: H. Madurowicz–Urbańska, “Lwów – aglomeracja miejska XIX/XX wieku” [in:] S. Meller (ed.) Pamiętnik XIV Powszechnego Zjazdu Historyków Polskich. Referaty, komunikaty - sekcje, Łódź, 7-10 września 1989 roku, Toruń 1993, pp. 283–289; eadem, “Lwów – stolica Galicji. Stan badań nad demograficznym, gospodarczym i cywilizacyjnym rozwojem miasta doby autonomicznej w świetle polskiej historiografii”, J. Buszko, W. Leitsch (eds.) Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego. Prace Historyczne 1997, b. 121: “Austria – Polska. 1000 lat kontaktów”, pp. 167–172; eadem, “Stan badań nad historią Lwowa w latach 1772-1918”, Rocznik Naukowo–Dydaktyczny. Prace historyczne 1992, no. 13, b. 126: L. Mroczka (ed.) Studia z dziejów Małopolski w XIX i XX wieku, pp. 31–43.

4See: I. Röskau–Rydel, Stan badań nad dziejami Lwowa w latach 1772-1848 [in:] H.W. Żaliński, K. Karolczak (eds.) Lwów. Miasto – społeczeństwo – kultura, vol. 2, Studia z dziejów Lwowa, Kraków 1998, pp. 363–373.

5Ch. Augustynowicz, “Historia Polski XIX i XX wieku w historiografii austriackiej w ostatnim 25-leciu” [in:] M. Stolarczyk, A. Kawalec, J. Kuzicki (eds.) Historia i dziedzictwo regionów w Europie Środkowo – Wschodniej w XIX i XX w., Rzeszów 2011, pp. 30–35.

6See: Ł. T. Sroka, “Historia i kultura Żydów lwowskich w XIX wieku. Stan badań i postulaty” [in:] K. Pilarczyk (ed.) Żydzi i judaizm we współczesnych badaniach polskich, vol. 5, supplement no. 4 to Studia Judaica, Kraków 2010, pp. 197–211.

7Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 1995–1996, no. 2–3, pp. 39–56.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
Jews Lviv Galicia Vienna modernisation elites
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 433 pp., 49 fig. b/w, 28 tables, 3 graphs

Biographical notes

Łukasz Sroka (Author)

Łukasz Tomasz Sroka is a historian, infobroker, and an associate professor at the Pedagogical University in Krakow. His scientific research focuses on the history and culture of Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of Israel, Krakow, and Lviv, studies of social structures of the 19th and 20th centuries (especially of the elite).


Title: In the Light of Vienna
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437 pages