The trip to Lwow

If you noticed Poland was a little less exciting and interesting this past weekend, it was because I was abroad. Me and the wife went to Lwow in Ukraine (or Lviv, if you’re not Polish). We’re back now, so you can relax.

Why Lwow?

From the moment you start living in Krakow you hear titillating rumours from the locals about Lwow. They make it sound like a romantic disreputable uncle who disappeared somewhere in the Amazon. Happily it didn’t disappear, it’s just over the border in Ukraine. Lwow was part of Poland for 400 years and then the capital of Galicia, under Austrian rule, for another century and a half. Krakow was also in Galicia, but was essentially a provincial town. Lwow was the cultural and political centre of this part of Poland for hundreds of years until 1939. It’s disappearance from the Polish map was a real wrench.

lwow_lion

Lwow essentially means ‘Lion City.’ There are lion and feline references everywhere. This particular lion will grant you a wish if you sit on its back, stroke its tail and whisper in its ear.

These are the three things Krakowians always tell you about Lwow:

1. It’s like a bigger, untouched version of Krakow without all the tourists.

Kind of true. It does look a lot like Krakow and it is extremely disheveled. What surprised me was that it feels much bigger and grander than Krakow. It has a capital-city feel that Krakow doesn’t. There are certainly fewer tourists, or at least fewer tourists speaking languages that don’t sound exactly like Ukrainian to me.

2. It used to be Polish

The idea of a Polish city ‘trapped’ in a foreign land through the accidents of history is intriguing. A lot of Poles get very wound up about the ‘Yalta betrayal’ and the resulting loss of Lwow to the Soviet Union, but I’m no longer convinced it’s that simple. Lwow was, undoubtedly, a Polish-majority city (though not to an overwhelming degree), but the surrounding territory never was. The Ukrainians tried to take Lwow in the Polish-Ukrainian War (1918–19) and clearly saw it as a centre of foreign rule. It wasn’t right that it ended up under Russian hegemony, but I think it is right that it’s in Ukrainian hands now.

graves_lwow

The graves of three Lwow women. The grave of an Orthodox Catholic woman featuring Cyrillic and the Orthodox crucifix, the grave of a Polish woman inscribed in the Latin characters of modern Polish and featuring the Catholic crucifix, and the secular grave of a Lwowian with no religious symbols but bearing a prominent Soviet medal. All to be found in Lwow’s endlessly fascinating Lychakiv Cemetery, where two hundred years of conflicting tradition rest.

3. It’s cheap

Yes it is. Now that prices in Poland are lagging only a little behind what I would pay in the UK it’s a nice feeling to visit a country where you can have a no-expense spared weekend for a hundred quid. It’s like the good-old days in Poland.

How to get to Lwow

This is the quickest and cheapest way according to Krakow–Lwow old hands. It beats driving, overnight trains and private Lear jets.

1. Get on a train to Przemyśl.
2. Sit on train for what feels like 12 years but is, in fact, a mere three and a half hours (from Krakow).
3. Get off train and seek minibus / normal-sized bus / taxi / camel train heading for Medyka (the village on the border).*
4. Walk through border (see: ‘How to cross the border’ below)
5. Seek minibus / normal-sized bus / taxi / camel train heading for Lwow from Shehyni (the village on the other side of the border). Walk swiftly past the dubious looking dudes with tricked-out Mercs claiming to be taxi drivers to get to the friendly yellow Ukrainian minibuses to the city (an hour and a half away on roads that have only slightly fewer craters than the surface of the Moon.)
6. Arrive Lwow. Massage buttocks vigorously.

* Many sources advise catching the private (i.e. non PKS) minibus to Medyka. We tried this. The minibus leaves when the driver thinks he has enough passengers. After an hour the moment had, apparently, not arrived. While our esteemed driver was off somewhere having his brain cells counted or painting his toenails**, we staged a revolt and got three other people to share a taxi with us. Hopefully he’s still sitting there with his precious empty minibus.

**I’m implying he’s a transvestite just because I think it would really, really annoy him.

How to cross the border

I don’t think I’ve ever crossed a border on foot before, unless you count foot-passenger crossings on the ferry from Dover to Calais. It’s a fun thing to do, especially on the way from the good old European Union to a former Soviet Republic.

There are more horror stories about the Poland–Ukraine border crossing than there are about Turkish prisons. People will tell you about six-hour queues and folding 50-dollar notes into your passport. I don’t doubt these things happen sometimes, but our experience was nowhere near as dramatic. Here’s how it goes down:

1. Pass through the Polish ‘hut,’ where a nice Polish border guard looked intently at my passport and asked me if this was my first crossing. I wasn’t sure if there was a note of sympathy or not.

2. Walk through no-man’s land along a fenced-in alley that has alarming prison-yard overtones. At some point you pass the actual line-on-the-map border, which is, in reality, a narrow strip of land with a relatively innocent-looking fence on both sides. This is the bleeding edge of the European Union. I’d like to say there are no mines in that narrow strip of overturned earth, but it looked awfully like there could be.

3. Arrive at the Ukrainian hut. There are two doors. One says “Entrance to Ukraine” in Ukrainian Cyrillic*** and the other one doesn’t. It’s an intelligence test, that I failed completely. Assuming the Cyrillic sign said something like “season-ticket holders only” I went for the plain door and found it locked. Suddenly I was twenty places back in the queue.

4. Enter the Ukrainian hut. A stunningly attractive blonde woman in uniform immediately barks orders at you in what sounds exactly like Russian. For a lad who grew up during the Cold War it’s an alarming experience, and not entirely in a bad way.

5. Pass out of the Ukrainian hut, after having filled in various forms that may or may not be important later on, and stroll into the Ukrainian countryside, which looks not in the smallest degree different from the Polish countryside you left ten minutes earlier.

***Everything in Ukraine is in Cyrillic. This effectively means that you can’t even begin to guess what signs mean, unless you have a clever wife, like I do.

Eight interesting facts about Ukraine

1. When I was at school Ukraine was called THE Ukraine. I get the feeling it’s no longer politically correct to call Ukraine ‘the’ Ukraine but I have no idea why. It’s also very hard to adjust to—it seems grammatically wrong. I asked a couple of Ukrainians about this but they just looked at me as if I was mad. Maybe bus drivers are not the best people to question on these subjects.

Kawiarnia Szkocka

The building that once housed the famed Scottish Cafe (Kawiarnia Szkocka)—a centre of Polish intellectual life under the influence of renowned Polish mathematician Stefan Banach. It’s a bank now… hooray

2. It is possible to fit 97 Ukrainians and one Englishman into a minibus designed for 30 Ukrainians and no Englishmen, but this does have a deleterious effect on the temper of the Englishman. There is no discernible effect on the mood of the Ukrainians.

3. All doors in Lwow have doorbells and/or domofons, but none of them work. Ukrainians get round this by leaving all doors unlocked. I spent a good hour of my holiday foolishly standing outside unlocked doors waiting for doorbells or domofons that didn’t work to be answered.

lwow_domofon

Lwow doorbells: none of these work, especially the ones without numbers.

4. Speaking Polish with an English accent doesn’t work in Lwow, although this is not immediately obvious. Often, Lwowians seem to understand, but then act in a way that reveals they haven’t. For example:

Me: Jeszcze jedno piwo proszę.
Result: Waitress brings bill

Me: Dziekujemy. Do Widzenia!
Result: Barman shows me his watch.

Me (testing a theory): Jaki jest Twoj numer telefonu?
Result: Da! Da! Da! (takes off shoes)

I can’t work out if this is because Ukrainians are too polite to tell you when they don’t understand or if Polish spoken with an English accent coincidentally sounds exactly like completely different Ukrainian words. Or they might all be mad. Polish spoken with a Polish accent works pretty well, for simple things.

5. Ukraine has the world’s most worthless coins. If you think Poland has a problem with change, you should visit Ukraine. The smallest denomination coin I saw was worth 5 kopiyok, which is approximately 0.016 pence. Apparently 1 and 2 kopiyok coins also exist. They are worth slightly less than cigarette butts and shops have none at all.

6. Ukrainian TV also uses lektors, just like Polish TV, but they are slightly more advanced. Instead of having a single guy reading the translated lines of all characters in foreign-language films, they have a male AND a female lektor. This is a step in the right direction but is still unintentionally hilarious.

7. Śmigus-dyngus also exists in Ukraine. Bring an umbrella if you’re going to be there on Easter Monday.

8. Ukrainians are extremely religious. They put Poles to shame. I’ve seen the occasional babcia cross herself on the tram as it passed a church in Krakow, but everybody is at it in Lwow. Walking through Lwow’s Old Town can be a slow process for locals, there are a lot of churches and many of them stop every time they pass one to kneel and perform the necessary gesticulations.

apteka

The mother of all aptekas. As incredible as it may seem there are actually more aptekas per square kilometre in Lwow than anywhere in Poland.

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41 thoughts on “The trip to Lwow

  1. guest says:

    No excuses. The Brits screwed Poland.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curzon_Line

    “The Curzon line was used by Joseph Stalin as a significant argument in the talks with the Allied Powers during 1942-1945. Stalin argued that the Soviet Union could not demand less territory for itself than the British Government had reconfirmed via Curzon some two decades prior. This has been described as a strong strategic move by Stalin, adding more land to the Soviet Empire than a pure ethnodemographic study of the time would have justified.”

  2. Jeannie says:

    That lion is the cuddliest statue I have ever seen.

    I worked with a gal from the Ukraine. Her *entire* family came to the US, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I always wondered why … until I saw those doorbells!

    Thanks for an incredibly interesting article and photos.

  3. roger says:

    When I was in Lwów as a student everybody understood Polish, and were very, very friendly. Also many Poles there, and they were somewhat different from regular “modern” Poles from Poland.

    They cared about tradition and religion in a way that reminds me of my grandparents.

    BTW – we slept on the Lwów main railway station one night to save money (don’t judge us :) – we were students then and we stayed 2 days longer than planned) – many people slept there, everybody very polite.

  4. newsaddict says:

    Aah, the Kresy, Poland’s lost playground. What’s next, Wilno/Vilnius, Brześć/Brest? What about visiting small country towns in Western Belarus or Western Ukraine?

  5. DeCoy says:

    In fact, it could be a series on ‘Lost and Found’ Polish cities…

    You can also go west and look at how Posen/Poznan, Breslau/Wroclaw, Stettin/Szczecin slipped in and out of ‘Polishness’ over the years.

  6. guest says:

    Kresy = Falkland Islands x 100

  7. Ashley says:

    Your writing is efficient and utterly hilarious. As your newest fan, a frequenter of Poland who speaks about 7 words picked up from the nephew-in-law (tanker, truck, ice cream etc), my next trip out will now include Lwow; thank you for the interesting snippets!

    And I love your Clash of the Drugstore.

  8. island1 says:

    I’m not getting into this one again.

  9. island1 says:

    Doorbells must take up a lot of your time if you’re Ukrainian.

  10. island1 says:

    To be honest I now have a strong desire to visit somewhere that isn’t in Eastern or Central Europe.

  11. island1 says:

    Glad to be of service.

    I recommend a trip to Lwow, but bring something comfortable to sit on.

  12. Stefan says:

    Why did you ask Ukrainins about ‘the’ in front of ‘Ukraine’? If they had known you are English they’d probably had asked YOU this question ;) :D Nobody’s able to understand where the English fancy to put ‘the’ ;) :D

  13. island1 says:

    It probably was a bad idea

  14. Jubal says:

    May I recommend Canada? Just go there directly and don’t try any US-Canadian crossings, apparently the Canadian-US border is a zone of war right now.

  15. My first visit to Lwów was a deeply emotional affair. Since childhood Saturday mornings at Polish school in west London, 40 years ago, where I first learnt of this city, torn away from Poland by the Yalta betrayal, Lwów has had a powerful hold on my imagination.

    In the post-war Polish emigre communities in the UK, Lwów was everywhere. The stained-glass windows of Polish churches from Chiswick to Manchester with the crest of Lwów ‘Semper Fidelis’, the Koło Lwowian – the association of old Poles from Lwów that many of my parents’ friends belonged to – my scout cub troop, named Orlęta Lwowskie (Lwów eaglets) for the children that took part in the fighting for a Polish Lwow in 1920, Lwów was as Polish as kiełbasa, bigos, krakowiak and polonez.

    Communist Poland had a different shape to the pre-war maps adorning the living room walls of patriotic Poles living in West London. One day, Poland would be free. Would it revert to it’s pre-war shape? Every Sunday, at the end of Mass we sang “Boże Coś Polske” in our churches: the last line – which still brings goose-pimples when I think about it – “Ojczyznę wolna, rać nam wrócić Panie.” It occurred to me that so many people – praying so intently, for so long, for something to happen – it would happen. Even though in the darkest days it looked like the Evil Empire was there to stay and Poland’s chances for independence were negligible.

    But what about the borders of a free Poland? Any claims that Poland might have for Lwów and Wilno would be mirrored by German claims for Breslau, Stettin, Allenstein, Kolberg etc. And while Poland today is smaller than it was in 1939 by more than the size of Belgium and Denmark combined, it is now central rather than eastern Europe, ethnically homogenous and more industrial.

    Visiting Lwów does leave me with an ambivalent feeling though. The saying that ‘every cobblestone in Lwow is steeped in Polish history’ rings true. The streets, cathedrals, churches, pre-war, pre-Partition Polish buildings, make the city feel every bit as Polish as Kraków. And it’s larger than Kraków. While the Piast dynasty’s Poland did not originally include Lwów, the city had been Polish for the best part of half a millennium. As I walked the pavements my forebears walked, I felt just like a German must feel in the Stary Rynek of Wrocław.

    The sights are a marvel. There’s a certain old house, where the drainpipes on one side feed rainwater into the Baltic while the drainpipes on the other feed rainwater into the Black Sea. The old cemetary chapel with its polychromed bas-reliefs. The Armenian cathedral. The dilapadated factories on the edge of the cities.

    But ultimately, Lwów must stay Ukrainian. Poland needs good neighbours to the east. A strong, free and friendly Ukraine is crucial if Russia is not to threaten Poland’s raison d’etat.

    And while Poles will continue feeling strong sentiment for Lwów, the countryside around had never really been ‘Polish’. It looks and feels different. Huge post-collective farm prairies rather than the narrow strips of Polish villages. Even before the deportations, ethnic cleansing and further deportations, the proportion of ethnic Poles living in the countryside around Lwow was low. Let’s leave things as they are, mourn the loss of the city but let it be.

  16. island1 says:

    Interesting fact: I grew up in Canada, lived there until I was six (okay, grew up a bit).

  17. Now, here we will not speak about exchanges we are engaged upon at my Blog. I want to say you here, Mr Island, that this is a very good article you have written about the beautiful city of L’viv here in my nation Ukraine.

    Your information on border crossing was VERY interesting to me, I dream to do it 1 day !

    You have taken very good foto’s, you have given much interesting facts, I did not even know all, and you have applied humour into your article, but not condemmed L’viv, or Ukraine, you have shown a respect to Uktriane, I, for 1, amd grateful to you for this, please be sure.

    You the good writer as for me.

    Sincerely to you,
    Marina.
    Rivne [209 km from L’viv] UA.

  18. Darth Sida says:

    1. But could one get their organism sleeping on train going for what felt like 12 years? Or reading JF Kennedy: “Why England Slept”? There.

    2. Did Ms Result Da-Da-Da look like Sigourney Weaver? The latter was doing fine with her da-da-da and taking her shoes off, too [in “Heartbreakers”].

  19. island1 says:

    1. Have you ever tried sleeping on an InterRegio train? I suppose it might be possible, if you get a seat, and if there aren’t fourteen people standing on your toes, and if the doors close properly.

    2. Don’t know, haven’t seen it.

  20. island1 says:

    We also visited the Cmentarz Obrońców Lwowa where the ‘eaglets’ are buried — a powerful place only slightly spoiled by the fact that non-Ukrainians are charged three times as much as Ukrainians to see it.

  21. island1 says:

    Thanks for the praise :)

    Nice town and nice people.

  22. That is nothing, wait until our Taxi drivers understand that you are not Ukrainian :-)

    Marina.
    Ukraine.

  23. guest says:

    Not only the churches. One should not forget that the Opera the main train station the

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_House,_Lviv

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamienica_Kr%C3%B3lewska_we_Lwowie

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dworzec_G%C5%82%C3%B3wny_we_Lwowie

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_Lwowska

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pa%C5%82ac_Potockich_we_Lwowie

    and moist of the other important buildings were built by Poles.

    And BTW also the surroundings in the eastern galicia region have a Polish character. just look how many polish castles and palaces there are. Of course the Ukraine does nothing to preserve them because sadly in the Lwow region there are the most nationalist Ukrainians. This is BTW one of the reasons why not many people speak Polish openly. The ukrainians do not want it and the Poles do not want to show that they are Poles. There are BTW much more Poles than the official number.

  24. island1 says:

    Oh yes, we experienced that. The taxi ride from the station to the center cost 25 UAH with my wife asking and 40 in the opposite direction with me asking. It didn’t really bother me.

  25. island1 says:

    So what are you saying, that Lwow should revert to Poland?

  26. guest says:

    Of course not.

    I wish the Ukrainians all the best and Poland supports the Ukraine and its people like no other western country.

    It is just pretty harsh Island, if you “say” (or at least you sound like this) that Poles should just “stop whinig” about Lwow, Yalta and so on. and that Lwow in Ukrainian hands is “right”.

    What happened is a shame and not “right”.

    And the Poles will accept this shame ( because they know like no other country what it means if a stupid neighbour does not accept the borders ) but they have the right to complain about it and treat Lwow as an unjustly lost part of the their Polish heritage.

  27. Waldemar says:

    I, as a pure Pole :-), am really thankfull for this post, never mind if it was made by a german or not.

    the “polish” I`m affraid means something a little bit different every decade, or even a year.

    the Polish Lwów will never happen again.

    its like with digital cameras – when you need one, you make a Decision at a certain time and place, buy one and not look at newer ones later, neither think of the past.

    The Lvov you have seen is the Lvov now. I like the present look of borders of Poland, its already a kind of a trademark in Poland already, also beacuse this shape was “promoted” 50 years under communist rule.

    Poznań was the cradle of Polish history, Wroclaw has been a part of it. Stettin is being laughed at in polish cabarets – we know it has never been Polish, and this common (sad) laugh is the sign of a burden we know we bear.

  28. Waldemar says:

    hm… I certainly would exchange Stettin for Lwów… ;-)

  29. Scatts says:

    Clearly we have to visit one day. I’ve also heard many stories about it from people whose families originated from the East and I am equally fascinated.

    It’s a pity that Ukraine has not managed quite the same transition as Poland and is in such a bloody mess right now, economically. It will get there eventually though and then it will lose a lot of the “charm” it still has. Not that most Ukrainians would miss the charm!

    Last times I crossed borders on foot were:

    1/ From Israel into Joradn down in Eliat to go see Petra.

    2/ From UAE into Oman – illegally.

    3/ From Italy into Vatican City!

  30. chris mcg says:

    I fell across a border once… It wasn’t my finest moment. I was stood atop hadrians wall screaming freedom and as I tried to throw my bottle of buckfast tonic wine at the approaching english bobby I lost my balance and eneded up in England. It was a short visit. I quickly retreated to think again.:-}

  31. Rafal says:

    The dorbells are the best! :)

  32. David says:

    Why Ukraine and not the Ukraine? Because it is no longer a part of a larger entity, but an independent country.

    And I’d say that had Lwów/Lviv been ‘given’ to Poland after the war, the Englishmen living in Ukraine today and taking weekend trips to Poland would say something along those lines;

    ‘The surrounding territory was, undoubtedly, a Ukrainian-majority region (though not homogenous), but the city was always profoundly Polish. The Poles took Lwow in the Polish-Ukrainian War (1918–19) and clearly saw it as a centre of Polish culture. It wouldn’t be right for it to end up under Russian hegemony, so I think it is right that it’s in Polish hands now.’

    I’m not saying that to mock you. I’m merely saying that we all learn to accept te state of affairs and find what is good and right about the current situation, especially if the original dilemma from which it sprung up was so difficult and there were arguments in favour of both sides. Had it not been for Stalin, Lwow/Lviv would probably be Polish now – Curzon line B – and all the concerned parties would have learned to accept it as well by now.

  33. Mike B...ski says:

    1.5 million Poles were deported by Stalin from Eastern Poland to Siberian labour camps. My late father and all his family was arrested by the NKVD in 1940. My Uncle Josef was murdered by the NKVD in 1942. General Anders attempted to gather names so that those murdered and the murderers would be known so that after the war the guilty will be prosecuted. Dad fought with the Polish RAF and my other family members fought in Italy. People forget Poles continued fighting in Poland until the early 50’s when the last few hundred were executed.
    It is too late to take action against individuals. It is never to late to fight against cover up and the rewriting of history.
    The Russians and Ukrainians can now be honest and truthful. They can release in full their archives so the living relatives of those murdered and of those of the murderers can know what sort of people they are related to.
    Monuments can be erected so these tragic times act as reminders and prevent neighbours repeating the follies of previous generations. I have no interest in regaining the estates and land owned by those deported Poles but I want the Russians and Ukraines to teach their children what happened. They can learn from the post war Germans.

  34. Kuba says:

    I agree it is about time the truth came out about what happen in WWII and was buried by the Russians. The children need to be educated on what their country did to it’s own people and people of other nations.

  35. bobita says:

    Poland need to take thier ancient land back, this is sayed by an romanian, descendent of THRACIANS, the oldest people in all Europe, the bravest.
    At 1920 Poland speak with Romania and ask her to conquer Ucraina, but Romania opuse to that.
    Big mistake…. now a lot of romanian land are in Ucraina.
    Ucraina does not exist, period.
    Ucraina are : russian land, poland land, hungarian land, and romanian land.
    This is the history.
    I hope that soon, maybe in the next 100 years or sooner, all of this contries to take their ancient land back.
    Poland wake up, do not invoke good connection with Ucraina, do not fear about Rusia.
    Rusia want that Poland take their land back, because then Russian take their land as well, Romania and Hungary.
    Ucraina must be disolved, period.
    Their place in history does not exist.

  36. Kuba says:

    Bobita, interesting. It would seem impossible for the former borders of Poland to change. To many years have passed. And then there is the question of which border? The size of Poland changed over the years.
    And look at Israel trying to get it’s land back.
    As a Pole i would like to see it happen at least back to pre WWII days, but don’t have much hope.

  37. Mike B...Ski says:

    Now the Russians want to be friends with the Poles. Is it just like before 1939? The Russians may help get the Poles get some of their Eastern lands back, who knows they may have a deep laid plan to get West Ukraine as part of the deal. You can take Putin out of the NKVD but can you take the NKVD out of Putin.

    Poland, Lithuania, Bielorussia and the Ukraine have to work hard to keep close and keep the Russian Bear at bay. Let us imagine a world with no borders between these four countries. They all have the same currency perhaps the Euro. Laws including property laws are made common in all four countries. A Pole could buy his estate back in the Ukraine that his fore fathers have lived in for generations.
    The lands of the four countries have such riches and so many ghosts we could rebuild the world that existed before narrow nationalist interests corrupted our minds. Previously Slavs led the world in many areas. There is something about Poles and maths and science that has amazed the world for generations. We can do it again. I am dying and so will not be around to see it. Poland will be in my final thoughts.

  38. Sylwia says:

    “Lwow was, undoubtedly, a Polish-majority city (though not to an overwhelming degree), but the surrounding territory never was.”

    Lwów: Poles – 63%, Ukrainians – 7,8%
    Lwów voivodship (i.e. the surrounding territory): Poles – 58%, Ukrainians – 33%
    (1931 census)

    Also, during the 19th century some 2 million peasants out of 4,8 million were forced to emigrate from Galicia to avoid famine. They were mostly Poles. Still others died serving in the Austrian army as conscripts. Many moved westwards looking for work. It’s to understand that it was a very diverse region under various policies that influenced its demography to a high degree.

    Out of the 4 voivodships that used to be in the former Eastern Galicia two had Polish majority, and two Ukrainian/Ruthenian. Unfortunately the two Polish ones were between the two Ukrainian ones. On the whole, Polish speakers were about 40% of the region, while Ukrainian/Ruthenian 50%. However, while all Polish speakers wanted to be Poles, not all Ruthenians wanted to be Ukrainian, so it’s difficult to say for how many of the 50% it mattered. The polls only asked what was one’s mother tongue, but the mere fact that someone spoke some dialect of Ruthenian didn’t yet mean that one felt any allegiance to the Ukrainian nationality that dated only from the 1880s. At the same time some clearly didn’t want to be Ukrainian, showing other sympathies instead, including pro-Russian, while many had no larger nationality at all. Still many others intermarried with Poles.

    The remaining 10% were Jews, Tatars, Germans, Czech, Armenians etc. out of whom some wanted to live in Poland while others didn’t care one way or another.

    There was no one easy way to draw borders. The battle of Lwów didn’t refer only to the city, but also to large territories around it that the Ukrainians claimed for themselves even though they were inhabited by Poles. Still, even after the Polish border was moved to the east there still remained large Polish settlements in Ukraine. The border was made on the river Zbruh so that the territory would be easier to defend rather than to include any Poles living anywhere.

    And, if you wanted to divide all of the land according to the inhabitants, then places like Brody would have to become Israeli colonies.

    At the same time, if the Ukrainians took only the eastern voivodships, even including Tarnopol, it’s unlikely that Poles would do anything about it. Piłsudski didn’t want any war with Ukrainians, he wanted to ally himself with them against Russia. It’s the Lwów voivodship that was a problem, simply because it was a very Polish region, and the people who lived there revolted. They didn’t fight against the Ukrainian inhabitants of the city, only against a Ukrainian army that used to be a part of the Austrian army and happened to be stationed there.

    The all or nothing attitude is a sad pattern in Polish-Ukrainian relations, which brought harm to both nations. However, Ukrainians had lost on it much more than Poles (esp. under Russian rule), so hopefully it’ll change for the better.

    Of course, saying that Lwów wasn’t Polish to an overwhelming degree makes little sense. By the same token Warsaw wasn’t predominantly Polish, while Łódź wasn’t Polish at all. I bet that London today isn’t so English either.

    In any case, if Churchill wanted to do such a noble thing for the people who lived there, it’d make more sense to leave both Lwów and Tarnopol in Poland, while Stanisławów and Wołynia might be transferred to Ukraine. Although, of course, by then even Ukrainian partisans ran to Poland not to be trapped in the USSR.

    Incidentally, the Lwów voivodship was the most populated region in Poland and, on the whole, 15% of all Poles lived in the 4 voivodships.

    But, they say that past is another country. While the historical Lwów is Polish, today’s Lviv is Ukrainian. Poles accept that, support Ukrainians, and hope that Ukraine will be admitted to the European Union.

  39. M says:

    Ukranians have a right for their nation to exisit as much as ANY nation. Look at how a nation is defined:

    “A nation is a grouping of people who share real or imagined common history, culture, language or ethnic origin, often possessing or seeking its own government. …”

    By this definition Ukraine should be a country. Was Poland a country in 800 ad? Was the Roman Empire the Roman Empire in 3000 bc? Does England belong to the English or the Celts… History is about the past, not about the present. Take it or leave it Ukraine is Ukraine, and Poland is Poland.

  40. ak104 says:

    Lwow is Polish city

  41. Jarek says:

    Lwow becomes Polish again, when the Poles will return back to Galicia.

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