Relations among the Polish, Ukranian and Jewish populations in the historic lands of Galicia, which encompass parts of modern-day Poland and Western Ukraine, were explored in an insightful lecture at Daemen College presented by Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki, assistant professor of history at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.
The lecture, “Galicia: One Land, Three Nations,” focused on the region that’s at the center of a new exchange program between Daemen and East European State College in Przemyśl, Poland. In the November lecture, Pudłocki, a Przemyśl native, explored the long-shared history of the three main populations in Galicia. Once a part of the vast Habsburg Empire, Galicia includes the major Polish cities of Kraków, Rzeszów and Przemyśl and also Lviv in Ukraine.
Once under Austrian rule, Galicia existed from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. Up to the 1850s, small-town life in the region was peaceful and there were times of prosperity, said Pudłocki. However, “before World War I, neighbors were so intrigued by nationalism that they did not live peacefully together anymore,” he said. “They perceived each other as the enemy.”
Despite its variable past, he further explained, descendants of Galicia are slowly coming to the realization that they share a common, vibrant heritage. In a way, Pudłocki pointed out, it is the involvement of U.S. students like those in the Daemen-Przemyśl study abroad program, who through their learning experience in the region, can help today’s populations in the former Galician territory to gain an even greater understanding of their shared history and bond.
Also at the lecture, Dr. John Hartman, clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, provided commentary on the multicultural legacy of Galicia. In addition, Hartman talked about his project to develop a Galician Cultural Center, which will be located in a former synagogue in Przemyśl, to help preserve and promote Galicia’s multicultural heritage.
Last July, five Daemen students were the first to participate in the exciting month-long international study abroad program in Poland, which was led by Dr. Andrew Kier Wise, associate professor of history and chair of the history and political science department. Also serving as director of Daemen’s Polish Studies Program, Wise said the goal is to offer the summer abroad option annually in Poland.
According to Wise, “the program in Poland offers students a unique opportunity to study the rich and complex history of a region that has direct links with Western New York through its large number of immigrants who settled in the area and through ongoing cultural exchanges.”
Hartman, also founder of Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc., who oversees the preservation of a two-century-old Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl, serves as a lecturer in Daemen’s summer program in Poland. Under his guidance, last year’s student group created a detailed online map of the cemetery in Przemyśl, a project that will continue this year.
Returning with Hartman to Daemen this spring in preparation for the summer program in Poland, Pudłocki participated while at the college in a roundtable discussion on the situation and unrest in Ukraine, and also presented two lectures.