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Before the War, Eastern Galicia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which administered the government of the district through a ruling class of Polish officials, as stated in the sketch from the Annales des Sciences Politiques. The entire province was inhabited to a great extent by Ukrainians, and in the Eastern portion which the Ukrainians claim their population was greatly preponderant. But the country had been so long under the control of the ruling Polish caste that the Poles continued to think of themselves as its natural governors and proprietors.
In the sixties of the last century, a distinct compromise was made between the Hapsburgs and the Polish nobility, whereby the administration of the region was turned over to the latter. In the nineties, with the growth of democracy in Europe, the Ukrainian national movement, which was organized and financed for the most part by Ukrainians in Kiev, became so strong that the Ukrainians in Galicia were accorded political rights equal with the Poles to keep them from becoming too restive. During the war, the Austrian Government won the allegiance of some Ukrainian politicians in Galicia with promises of certain political reforms, playing all the while on the Ukrainian dread of conquest by the Czardom. Propagandists of Polish imperialism have widely advertised the folly of this group of Ukrainians, who were by no means representative of the Ukrainian political tradition of federalism and democracy-although it is glaringly evident that the Poles in Galicia had held their position for years only because of their close alliance with the Hapsburg dynasty. Never in the history of half a century of Polish domination had one vote been cast in the Austrian parliament against Austrian measures, unless one should count the scattering of votes cast by Polish and Jewish Socialists. And all this time the Ukrainian delegates, almost to a man, sat on the benches of the opposition.
The Polish claims to Eastern Galicia are of two sorts; what we may call real claims and propagandist claims, according as they are founded on political facts or fancies. Of the real claims, one of the most frequently advanced is the claim of historical ownership. The Polish Information Bureau is on record as having said that the question of the ownership of Eastern Galicia cannot be settled by plebiscite because the district is historically Polish, and the vast majority of Polish political writers say that their title is sound because, previous to the Austrian suzerainty, the region was part of their national domainfrom its conquest by the Poles in the fourteenth century to the partition of Poland in 1772.
To reinforce the claim of historical ownership they advance the argument of present land ownership. Thirty-five per cent. of the land in Eastern Galicia is owned by the Polish aristocracy, who, naturally enough, require a Polish administration to support their large landed interests. It would be a very severe blow to its class pride and to the material interests of Polish landlordism, if Eastern Galicia were to be awarded to the Ukrainians, a nation of small freeholders.
Furthermore, in this long history of Polish domination, the Poles say that they have greatly developed the country. Administration has always been in their hands, and they assert that they are entitled to the fruits of their administrative effort. Especially during the last half-century they claim to have been wise governors and benefactors.
In reply to the statement of fact, that the Ukrainian population in Eastern Galicia is greatly preponderant, Polish patriots say that the preponderance is of rural population only, but that the important urban centers are overwhelmingly Polish.
These are the arguments that might appear to statesmen of the old school to have some basis in political reality. The rest of the Polish claims, which we have classed as propagandist claims, are interesting proofs of insincerity. A common one of these is based on the allegation that the Ukrainians are not a separate branch of the Slavonic race, that they are merely Poles, who happen to speak a different language! Furthermore, the more reckless propagandist goes on to say that this element in Galicia which speaks the Ukrainian language does not want the district where they are preponderant to belong to the Ukraine.
So much for the Polish side of the question, its arguments real and merely fabricated. The Ukrainian claims are based on the undisputed preponderance of their population and their manifest and strongly contested right to self-government.
According to official statistics, compiled by Polish officials for the year 1900, and based on language, the population of all Galicia was divided into four groups, as follows: Poles
9,800 In this census the Jews are listed en masse as Poles. The religious classification shows that there were at that time in Galicia 3,345,780 Roman Catholics, 3,108,972 Greek Catholics and 811,183 Jews. At least a quarter of a million of the Roman Catholics were Ukrainians, and the Greek Catholics, almost without exception, of the same race. If the 811,183 Jews are deducted from the total number of Poles, the Polish element is diminished to 3,171,850 for all Galicia, or about one hundred thousand more than the total number of Ukrainians.
This census shows, therefore, that there are about as many Ukrainians as Poles in the entire province of Galicia. The Ukrainians, however, claim only the forty-eight eastern districts where their population is greatly preponderant. Official statistics show that the percentage of Ukrainian population in these fortyeight districts stood as follows: In 10 districts
75% to 90% In 12 districts
67% to 75% In 16 districts
60% to 66% In 8 districts
50% to 60% In 2 districts
41% to 50%
In these districts, of course, the Jews are counted as Poles. If they were not, the Poles would number less than twenty-five per cent. of the inhabitants.
Every published ethnographic map of Eastern Europe shows that Eastern Galicia is predominantly Ukrainian. Neither in the larger maps, published by various academies of science, nor in the smaller ones to be found in geographic compendiums and frequently reproduced in the daily press, is the Polish element indicated.
As for the Polish claim that Eastern Galicia has been benefited by Polish rule, and that the Poles are entitled to it as a prize for efficient governing, evidence
is quite overwhelmingly to the contrary. The testimony of neutral observers is amazing. Geoffrey Drage, M. P., author of Vol. XI (the sections on Russia), of the Cambridge Modern History, says:
“In Galicia . . . the nobles and peasants are on the worst possible terms with one another. The former are oppressive and selfish; the latter sunk in physical and moral degradation, a state of which they are conscious, but which they attribute to their lords. ... The Ruthenians (Ukrainians) are characterized by natural capacity and manliness in spite of backwardness and poverty, in their case largely due to the minute subdivision of their property."
In a speech delivered by Ignatz Dashynski, M. P., in the Austrian Parliament on October 28, 1902, in which an interpellation is made to the government about a large strike which occurred in that year, the Polish orator portrayed a sorry state of affairs. With figures taken from conservative Polish sources, he proved that the peasants had been pauperized; that they could hardly pay the smallest land tax; that some of their holdings hardly amounted to 17/2 acres. Dashynski also showed that many of the peasants did not eat bread, at least during one-half of the year, and that during the other half they could afford but little of it, and that of the poorest sort.
Records of the Austrian Parliament contain many startling facts about the oppression of the Ukrainian farmer in Eastern Galicia by Polish officialdom. He is subject not only to economic exploitation, but his hard-won right of suffrage is rendered virtually impotent by wide-spread corruption. To illustrate the shame of these elections, we can quote a deputy from the Przemysl district in the Austrian Parliament,