I've encountered a bit of a mystery in researching the town of Makhnovka,
which was near Berditchev. A number of people whose grandparents were from
this town reported that their grandparents thought of themselves as Galician
and not Russian. Looking at the maps, it is clear that Makhnovka was
definitely in the Russian Empire, further east than Galicia's borders ever
went (that I know of).
I'm wondering is it possible that people in this western edge of Russian
Empire could have thought of themselves as Galician, even though not within
the official borders, because of close ties between the various towns? Would
they have had a sense of themselves as the same "people"?
I have heard many people describe how even among Jews, there was a sense of
different ethnic identities, and that there were differences in traditions
and practices between some of these groups. Galicianers would see themselves
as distinct >from Litvaks, for example.
So, I'm wondering what sense of ethnic identity did the Jews of Podolia and
Volhynia have? (I've certainly never heard anyone describe themselves as
Podolian or Volhynian - these were, I think, just arbitrary guberniyas whose
borders moved around.) Would they have thought of themselves as Russian?
Could they have thought of themselves as Galician? Was there any Ukrainian
identity? Where were the "ethnic" boundaries? (The official national
boundaries changed so much in that area, I can certainly imagine people not
taking them as seriously as perceived ethnic boundaries.)
Any insights into this?
Los Angeles, CA