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Chapter 15

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

The Story of the Ukraine
by Clarence Manning

published by
Philosophical Library
New York,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 17

 p195  Chapter Sixteen

Developments in Western Ukraine

After the failure of the movement of 1848, there ensued a period of reaction and of torpor in Galicia and the other Ukrainian lands in the Hapsburg Empire. For a brief moment it had seemed as if there might be a general solution of the various questions involved but outside of the formal liberation of the serfs nothing had been accomplished.

At the same time there came a period of crisis throughout the Empire. With Russian help the revolt of Hungary had been suppressed, and for a decade the Emperor Francis Joseph II was able to rule as an absolute monarch and defy the wishes of all portions of the Empire. Yet even this could not last, for at the end of that decade the Austrian armies were badly defeated by the Italians at the battle of Solferino and worse was to come with the battle of Sadowa in 1867, when the armies were overwhelmed by the Prussians. The outcome of these defeats was the reorganization of Austria-Hungary as the Dual Monarchy, which it remained until 1918, and the granting to the Poles of the control of Galicia.

These developments were not without significance for the fate of the Ukrainians, whether they lived in Galicia, in Bukovina or in Carpatho-Ukraine. The language question was still being bitterly debated but at this moment there were two leading parties.

The conservatives, and they included a large part of the Uniat clergy and the richer and more prosperous sections of the laity, held out strongly for the old Church Slavonic. They still maintained the theory that there was almost something sacred in the maintenance of the traditional language  p196 and they felt vaguely that there was something heretical and impious about the attempts to read and write in the language of the ordinary peasants.

On the other hand the influence of those who desired to approximate the language to Russian increased. The results of the intervention of the Russian army in its fight against the Hungarians had had a great effect upon the population of Carpatho-Ukraine in particular. Some of their ablest leaders, such as Dobryansky and Dukhnovich, had definitely taken sides with the invaders and had retired with them to Russia on their withdrawal. From this time on a large part of the people of this area remained devoted to the Russian cause and continued to use a jargon which they confidently believed to be Russian. The same was true to a lesser extent in Bukovina, and the Moscophile party in Galicia was very important.

For a while it even seemed that the conservatives would make common cause with them. They gradually lost hope in Austria. They realized that the defeats of the Austrian army were jeopardizing the security of the Empire, and the Austrian recognition of the Polish interests in Galicia cut them to the quick. Under such circumstances they idealized the Empire of Nicholas I and paid little attention to the results of the Crimean War. They saw only that for a moment the Russian army had offered a brighter prospect to the Ukrainians of Eastern Ukraine. They also completely ignored the fact that even under the conditions prevailing in Galicia they were still able to have certain political rights which were completely denied in Eastern Ukraine.

On the other hand, the younger generation passed under the influence of Shevchenko. They read the writings of Marko Vovchok and they realized the weakness of western ideals from study in Vienna and elsewhere and they felt more strongly the advantages of the more democratic tendencies  p197 which they learned from the West and from the modern literature of Eastern Ukraine.

Thus the stage was set for a bitter struggle in Western Ukraine as a whole and it lasted for a couple of decades before there came the definite triumph of those forces which sought to develop the national tradition. Some even went so far as to argue for the creation of a definite Ruthenia which would include all of the Ukrainians in the Hapsburg dominions and sought to differentiate themselves both from the Poles, the Russians and the Eastern Ukrainians. They glorified as well as they could the government of Austria and promised absolute loyalty to the Hapsburg rulers.

It soon became evident, however, that in its simplest and baldest form this position too was impossible. The differences between them and their neighbors proved to be greater than those between them and the Eastern Ukraine and it was not long before this idea went the way of so many other opinions in Ukrainian history.

The entire controversy was based upon a curious misconception. The Moscophiles knew little more of Russia than that the Russian armies had success­fully invaded Hungary in 1849. They knew very little about the difficulties of the Ukrainians resident in Russia and they knew little more about the development of life in Eastern Ukraine. At the very moment when they were dreaming of how much better off the Ukrainians were in Russia, the Ukrainians of the east were looking hopefully to Galicia for a freedom which they did not have at home.

It was at this moment that the first copies of the Osnova began to arrive in Lviv and the other cities. Then came in quick succession the news that this journal had ceased to exist and that a ban had been imposed on all Ukrainian writings in Russia. This startling news was followed by the appearance in Lviv of Kulish and of other Ukrainian authors  p198 who brought eye‑witness accounts of the forcible suppression of Ukrainian culture in the land where the modern revival had started.

The arrival of these refugees from their envied homeland started to turn the scale in the larger part of Galicia. It made it clear to the younger and more alert people that they had been mistaken and that much of the boasted well-being of the Ukrainians of Russia was only a mirage. They realized the advantages of their own position and they set to work to use the native language — sometimes in a Galician dialect which differed somewhat from that employed by Shevchenko and the writers from the left bank of the Dnyeper.

For the next decades as we have seen, the bulk of Ukrainian literature written in Eastern Ukraine was published in Lviv. The young men came to know the refugees and emigrants and slowly but surely the century‑old barrier between the provinces began to break down. For the first time in centuries there came a real transfer of ideas between Eastern and Western Ukraine.

This movement was greatly assisted by the work of Mykhaylo Drahomaniv, one of the most brilliant of the publicists, who had profited by the relaxation of censor­ship in Russia during the early seventies. As a professor of the University of Kiev, he came in contact with the various socialist parties of Russia and then in 1876, after the renewed ban on Ukrainian work, he emigrated to Switzerland where he could work more freely. Later he became a professor at the University of Sofia in Bulgaria, where he died in 1895. Drahomaniv continued the ideas of the Society of Saints Cyril and Methodius in his belief that there should be developed a federal union of all the Slavs, but he differed from the earlier group in emphasizing the necessity of adapting Slavonic life to the progressive European thought of the seventies and eighties and in emphasizing  p199 freedom of the individual, socialism, and rationalism. He realized also that in such a case it would be necessary to bring together all the natives of Ukraine and his active work was devoted to bringing this about. Thus he corresponded freely with friends in Galicia as well as in Eastern Ukraine. He collected money to aid in the publication of journals at Lviv which would be favorable to his ideas and at the same time he worked to establish contacts between the thought of Ukraine and that of the western world. His influence, exercised upon both Moscophiles and nationalists, did much to weaken the former, for he was able to show that they knew little and cared less about the accomplishments of Russian literature and that it was idle for them to think of inclusion in a Great Russia on the basis of their chimerical dreams.

His ideas were naturally opposed by the more conservative classes, who were still trying to support the artificial Church Slavonic language, and they repelled many because of their social hypotheses. Even the young Franko was arrested because it was supposed that he was in contact with Drahomaniv. Nevertheless, his position won adherents constantly and proved a strong ferment in the hitherto sterile controversies that had been going on.

Drahomaniv laid great stress upon the Ukrainian development in Galicia, for he realized that there was here the only possibility of obtaining some experience in political organization. Bad as the government of Austria-Hungary was, there were possibilities for the Ukrainians to make their influence felt along political lines. There was no possibility of this in Russia, where party activity was still entirely forbidden.

Under the various compromises that had been made in Austria-Hungary after the establishment of the Dual Monarchy, Galicia had passed entirely into the hands of the Poles, who furnished a large part of the higher officials of  p200 the province under Austrian rule. However, their power was not absolute, for it was the consistent policy of Vienna not to solve any of the main questions that confronted the Empire but to endeavor to maintain a balance between the various peoples in a given province, playing off one against another and thus preventing any definite lineup against the central authority.

This had been the method adopted in 1848, when it looked at one time as if Austria would concede many rights to the Ukrainians in the province and even allow the establishment of a Ukrainian university at Lviv. It was never done, for the swing of reaction had blocked all moves in this direction. Nevertheless, much could be accomplished, if the Ukrainian population were really awakened to demand their rights and throughout the eighties a larger and larger number of persons appeared qualified to take the post of leader­ship in the undertaking.

In many ways Ivan Franko played the leading role in this. As a journalist, novelist and poet, he worked steadily and effectively to arouse the people. He pointed out the economic needs of the province, he pictured the social defects of society, he translated into Ukrainian many of the masterpieces of European literature, and he worked energetically on all the progressive papers of the area.

As early as 1868 there had been established in Lviv a cultural society, the Prosvita, and a little later in 1873 there was set up the Shevchenko Society, with the idea of publishing serious books in Ukrainian. Progress was very slow and it was more than ten years before enough funds were available to undertake any important work. Then it commenced to prosper. It was renamed the Scientific Society in 1892, and in 1898 it was again reorganized as the Shevchenko Scientific Society. It attracted the attention of scholars everywhere for the excellence of its publications. This and many other activities made Galicia the real centre for Ukrainian  p201 work and it gave a vitality to the Ukrainian cause which was impossible in Russia, where the censor­ship tried to block everything that was done.

Early in the nineties there was made an attempt to unite the Poles and Ukrainians for political purposes but it came to nothing. By the beginning of the twentieth century, there had come a definite split between the two nationalities, and Polish and Ukrainian parties were set up.

In one sense this separation had a tendency to hold back the securing of high posts by the Ukrainians, for the Poles, with Viennese backing, still retained their control of the province. On the other hand it trained the Ukrainians to act together and to take a more active interest in politics. It forced them to engage in many educational activities and, as they had done so often in Austria, to lay the foundation for their own school system, to be supported by their own funds. It encouraged them to engage in various financial enterprises on their own behalf, and although their economic situation remained unfavorable, demands were made for the establishment of a Ukrainian University in Lviv. Even more ambitious plans were seriously presented to the Viennese government of definitely separating Western Galicia, where the Poles were in a majority, from Eastern Galicia, where the Ukrainians were the dominant population. Such an act might have been of great importance for the future of Austria-Hungary, had the Emperor ever been willing to attempt a definite settlement of any of the problems before him.

Instead of that, the movement only sharpened the antagonism between the two groups, for it was becoming evident that the Poles were losing their absolute control of the province. In each election to the Galician Diet the Ukrainians won for themselves a larger number of seats and their leaders were slowly becoming trained in the intricacies of Austrian politics. They were gradually shaking off their old  p202 hesitation and their own acquiescence in the superiority of Polish ability and Polish culture. The results were often increased disturbances and led even to the assassination of the Polish governor of the province, Count Andrew Potocki, in 1902. Every step of progress was bitterly contested by the Poles, who persisted in their traditional policy and could not understand why any concessions should be made to those whom they regarded as their natural inferiors.

In this progress the Uniat Church played a great part. The technical head of the Church, Archbishop Count Andrey Sheptitsky, a member of a noble family which had furnished several archbishops to the Uniats, put himself at the head of all the various charitable and social movements. A distinguished figure and a devout and able leader, he was able to accomplish much for his people. He reorganized the spiritual life of the Church so as to bring it nearer to modern conditions and there was hardly a single feature of life in Galicia which promised well for the people in which he did not take a personal interest.

Thus by the early years of the twentieth century and the approach of the First World War, conditions in Galicia had been vitally changed. The Ukrainian masses were no longer satisfied with the mere appellation of Ruthenians. The province which had been the most lost to the Ukrainian cause had been made the most advanced and the most conscious of its inheritance. The forces that had been striving for the adaptation of Ukrainian culture and language to that of Russia had been definitely checked and the influence that was radiating from Lviv was in its turn impinging upon Kiev and the Ukraine that was still under Russia. At the same time, conditions were still such that the fight in the province between the Ukrainians and Polish populations remained undecided, but a few more years of peace would undoubtedly strengthen the Ukrainian position still further.

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Page updated: 25 Apr 22