August 2022
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Ukrainian for beginners

V.Staryk. Polish Chernivtsi

dimThe ruins of the Cecina castle is the most ancient historic monument of Chernivtsi, which is connected with Polish king Kazimierz III the Great by the historical tradition. Jan Dlugosz claimed in his «Annals» that this castle was constructed or re-constructed by king Kazimierz in the middle of the 14th century. Austrian power gave permission to Chernivtsi inhabitants to demolish walls of the castle to building stones, and the final total destruction of castle’s remains occurred in the middle of the 20th century when Soviet power constructed on its place a TV-retransmitter.
Until the end of the 15th century Bykovyna was included into the Polish-Lithuanian state, nevertheless no material monuments of that time remained intact in Chernivtsi. Instead, mass recruitment of Bukovynian boyars to military service of Polish king Jan Sobieski in the second half of the 17th century established numerous Polish gentry (Szlachta) here, which played a significant role in this province under Austrian occupation.
Mass arrival of Polish settlers into Bukovyna contemporized with the early Austrian times. Krysztof Czyzewski in his narrative about the pauper Polish inhabitants of Chernivtsi distant suburbs, at the same time reminded us of those Poles «who deserted Silesian and Zywiec Beskidy in the 18th century and after travelling through Slovakia and Zywiec settled in these Chernivtsi suburbs in particular in Kalichanka. Their compatriots, merchants and city officials, who moved here mainly from Galitia, became the part of local patrician estate».
The Polish community of Chernivtsi demonstrated the dynamic evolution until the World War I. 14893 Poles resided in Chernivtsi in 1910, assuring the Polish community the honourable third place after Jewish and Ukrainian communities. After the separation of Bukovyna from Galicia the Polish language lost its official status in Chernivtsi nevertheless it remained the communicative language not only for Poles but also for Armenians, Ukrainians and Germans etc. Pupils had a possibility to study the Polish language at will of their parents in German I State Gymnasium in Eminescu St #1 (for example, the most prominent Polish politician in Chernivtsi Anton Kochanowski studied in this gymnasium) as well as in other educational institutions.
Thanks to the efforts of Polish community the Private Polish Realgymnasium was established in 1911 in Armenian St #16. Since 1919 it had even the status of a state school until it’s closing down by Romanian power in 1923. The Polish Boarding School named after Adam Mickiewicz was constructed for the support of Polish pupils in Brativ Rusnakiv St #11, furthermore a lot of Polish pupils resided in the Armenian Boarding School.
All Poles belong to the Roman-Catholic rite and prayed in Exaltation of the Holy Cross Church in Holovna St #30. Later Roman-Catholic Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bakhrushin St #2 was constructed at the end of the 19th century where the Polish language was one of the preach languages. The graves of polish legionaries who died on the battlefield of World War I are situated in the basement of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church.
The Polish inhabitants of Chernivtsi made an important contribution to the development of cultural life in their city. The perfomances of local Polish troupe, as well as the perfomances of temporary engagement from Galicia were given in the old wooden theatre in School St #6 and later in the new City Theatre on the Theatre Sq #1. For example, a well-known Polish actress Helena Modrzejowska was performing in Chernivtsi in the middle of the 19th century during several years.
The considerable contribution into the development of musical life of the city was made by a famous Polish composer of Armenian origin Karol Mikuli. He was born in Chernivtsi, later learned from Fryderyk Chopin; many times K. Mikuli performed his music in the Philharmonic Society in our city.
The first painter-woman in Bykovyna was Augusta Kochanowska, a friend and first illustrator of the stories of Olga Kobylyans’ka. Augusta Kochanowska resided in Shevchenko St #41.
Polish student society «Ognisko» was active in Chernivtsi University since 1877. Another Polish student corporation «Lechia» was established here in 1910. Two Ukrainian professors of Chernivtsi University Omelyan Kaluzhnyats’kyj and Volodymyr Mil’kovych were investigating the problems of old-Polish literature and the questions of Polish-Ukrainian history.
Politician of Polish origin took an active part in the social and political life of Bukovyna and Chernivtsi. Many of them were elected members of Parliament and provincial Diet. The most popular person among them was Baron Anton von Stawczan Kochanowski, who was not only the deputy of state Parliament and provincial Diet, but also a speaker of Bukovynian Diet and Chernivtsi burgomaster for more than 50 years. The house of Anton Kochanowski is situated not far from the City Magistrate on the Central Sq #5 as well as a street named after A.Kochanowski.
Public life of Polish community was concentrated around the Polish public, sport, financial and educational organizations; especial significance had Polish National House, which was constructed in 1905 in Kobylyans’ka St #36. The Polish National Council was situated in the Polish National House and was working here in 1908-1919 under the leadership of a well known doctor Stanislaw Kwiatkowski. Polish reading-rooms functioned also in the suburbs of Kalichanka (in Bilorus’ka St #20) and Klokichka (house #630) where many Poles resided. Known journalist Klemens Kołakowski, a friend of Yuriy Fed’kovych, was editing the newspaper «Gazeta Polska» which was established in 1883; K. Kołakowski resided in School St #20.
The interests of Polish state in Chernivtsi after World War I were represented by Polish Consulate, which was at first situated in the former house of Wartanowicz family in Armenian St #14 and later in Josef Hlavka St #12. Besides the diplomatic functions the consulate used to arrange celebration of Polish national holidays and maintained diverse relationships with Bukovynian Polonia.
Polish Consulate in cooperation with all existing at that time Polish public organizations arranged lending a helping hand to thousands of Poles who ran away from horrors of war which broke out in Poland in September 1939. The inhabitants of Chernivtsi kept in mind a long line of Polish refugees in front of the office of the Polish Bank in Kobylyans’ka St #27. This bank was carrying out the exchange of Polish money into other European currency as long as it could.
All public structures of the Polish community in Chernivtsi were closed down after the establishment of Soviet power in 1940. After the World War II almost all Roman Catholic churches were also abolished with the exception of Holy Cross Church in Chernivtsi. A considerable part of Chernivtsi Poles moved to Romania, another part was repatriated to Poland in 1947; the rest became victims of Stalin’s repressive machine. The Polish community of Chernivtsi got the possibility to develop its national and confessional life free only after proclamation of the state independence of Ukraine.

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