Re: Jews in Eastern Galicia before the outbreak of WWII - review of stastistical data #galicia

Alexander Sharon <a.sharon@...>


Thank you kindly for your response. My comments are in the body of the text.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Jassem" <>

Alexander Sharon wrote on the Statistical Data in Galicia on Jan. 8, 2001.
Here is my response.

Dear Alex, I admire your passion for research and for sharing your findings
with all of us. Your text is very informative and valuable. But since you
encourage us "to engage you into discussion concerning number of Jews in
Galicia before the outbreak of WWII" I will make few comments.

You wrote:
I would be surprised if data published by Polish statisticians for years
1921 and 1931 was not politically manipulated by the authorities. Poland has
acquired Eastern Galicia (and part of Vilna, Lithuania territory)
as the result of the military aggression against weaker neighbors. Poles
substituted for minorities in some of those territories.<

All scholarly works rely on these statistics. I have consulted a University
of Toronto professor specializing in Jewish studies and he confirmed that
the statistics could be trusted.
My interoperation of the available statistics is a bit different.
If statistics show that Jewish population of eg. Lwow Province has been
identified as 7% Jews by the nationality and 11.5% by Mosaic religion, I
begin to wonder. What means not identified term "nationality", since all
Jews were Polish citizens. Were 4.5% of the Jewish population allocated?
Also, I would not fully agree with the
statement that "Poland has acquired Eastern Galicia as the result of the
military aggression against weaker neighbors." I'd rather say that Poland
used military means to restore its legitimate multi-ethnic country
established as a voluntary union on July 1, 1569. Subsequently the country
was taken apart following thre partitions by Russia, Prussia and Austria in
1772, 1793 and 1795.
This is a historical misconception. Unified new country was known as Union
of Two Nations or the Commonwealth of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand
Duchy of Lithuania (Rzeczypospolita Obojga Narodow), and it was not just the
Catholic Poland.

Leaders of the Commonwealth refused to recognized political aspiration of
the emerging Third Nation - the Ukraine as an equal Partner. This
shortsightedness led to the bloody Chmielnicki revolt in 1648 (known as
Catastrophe in the Jewish history), the subsequent unification of the
Ukraine and Muscovy, and follow up division of the Commonwealth.
In the meantime the Ukrainian national consciousnes
had strenghtened and the 1918 efforts of Marshall Pilsudski to restore the
country were opposed by (perhaps most of) the ethnic Ukrainians. While you
may be right that "Poles substituted for minorities in some of those
territories" it has to be noted that in some other areas, notably the city
of Lwów and Lwów area, the Poles were in clear majority. Pilsudski had a
vision of multi-ethnic, large and strong Poland, which would withstand
aggressive tendencies of her neighbours. Unfortunately subsequent
goverments failed to implement fair ethnic policies or make the country a
leading military power.
Poland was reestablished in 1918 following Versailles Treaty (Peace
Conference). Of the all beneficiaries of Versailles, Poland was the
greediest and the most bellicious. Poland emerged in 1921, after three years
of fighting, twice as big as had been expected at the Peace Conference.. She
attacked the Ukrainians, getting >from them eastern Gailcia and their capital
Lwow. She fought the Czechs for Teschen (Cieszyn) and failed to get it, one
reason that Poland had no sympathy with Czechs in 1938, though it was in her
long-term interest to side with Czech independence.

Poland made good "her' rights against Germans by force, in both the Baltic
and Silesia.

Poland invaded newly free Lithuania (the old Partner >from Commonwealth),
occupying Lithuanian capital Wilno and incorporating it after 'plebiscite'.

She waged a full scale war against Russia and persuaded Western powers to
ratify her new frontiers in 1923. In expanding by force Poland skillfully
played on Britain's fears of Bolshevism and France's desire to have a
powerful ally in the east.

At Versailles Poland was obliged to sign a special treaty guaranteeing
rights to her minorities (Jews, Ukrainians, Belarussian, Lithuanian and
Germans). But she did not keep even in the 20ies, still less in 30ies when
her minorities policy deteriorated under the military leadership.

With a third of her population treated as virtual aliens, she maintained an
enormous police force and army. Poland has established its own concentration
camp for the undesirables at Bereza Kartuska.
You Wrote:
It is obvious that Jews that did not declare their mother tongue as
Hebrew/Yiddish were categorized as Poles by nationality. Population of Jews
in Eastern Galicia and subsequently in all prewar Poland in my opinion,
should be larger that quoted by sources as 10% of the total population of
Poland. This would also increase the number of Holocaust victims.<

I don't have the censuses at hand. I will have proper resources soon and
may comment further, but at this point I have two comments.
1. There were two censuses: 1921 and 1931. Each asked different questions.
One asked about religious and ethnic affiliation and the other about
religious affiliation and primary language or mother tongue. I am not sure
which was which but the language one resulted in 300,000 difference between
Yiddish/Hebrew speakers and Mosaic faith followers. It should be also noted
that practically nobody spoke Hebrew. The Hebrew numbers were inflated and
statements were ideologically motivated. But since the numbers were
combined with Yiddish it had no influence on final results.

You have said: "It should be also noted that practically nobody spoke

Educational Zionist system in Poland secular in orientation, known as
"Tarbut" had 44, 550 (20 % of all Jewish pupils in Jewish schools in Poland)
students on kindergarden, elementary, secondary and vocational levels where
instructions language was exclusively in Hebrew.

Secular Hebrew schools were developed, examples are the Heder Metukkan
(improved kheyder) was informed by new pedagogical ideas: "Hebrew taught in
Hebrew" - this idea was fully incorporated in modern Israeli 'ulpans'
intended for the new immigrants.

Separate educational systes: Shulkul (Shul und kultur farband) Jewish
Secondary School Federation were established with the assistance of Labour
Zionist organization, and Hebrew alongside Yiddish were languages of
instruction, in addition to Polish.

In additional there were private Hebrew Gimnaziums and/or Liceum in nearly
all major Polish cities

(refer to Zineman 1938, Chmielewski 1937 and Maursberg 1968 sources).

My Dad spoke with his first wife, his brothers and all cousins in Hebrew,
they wrote letters in Hebrew. And they all have been educated in Hebrew

from the all Eastern Europe, Zionist movement was established first in
Galicia, and only later in the Pale Settlement and Congress Poland. All
Zionist parties: General Zionists, Mizrachi, Poale Zion (Labour) and
Jabotinsky's Revisionists had numerous followers who promoted Hebrew.
Kibbutzim were established in Poland preparing youth for the immigration to
Palestine. Members of Kvutzot communicated exclusively in Hebrew.

And how can you claim that Hebrew was not spoken in Poland?

2. Again, I believe there is no reason to distrust the 10% count of Jews in
You wrote:
1931 statistics display that in Galicia amount of Jews that declared their
mother tongue as Yiddish or Hebrew was smaller than in other Provinces.<

True, except you shouldn't have included Krakow City and Krakow Province in
the non-Galician column of statistics in this paragraph.


Please pay attention, that I have been dealing with the issue of the "Jews
in EASTERN Galicia...", please refer to the subject line above. Krakow was
shown separately for the comparison reasons only
I'll be happy to send more comments when I get to the proper resources in
several days.



Your additional comments will be appreciated.


Alexander Sharon
Calgary, Alberta

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