Nationalism in Galicia & Imperial Politics: 1848 to 1914

The years between 1848 and 1866 were dominated by Franz Joseph I′s endeavours to establish a "neo-absolutist" rule in the Habsburg lands. Until 1854, martial law applied in Galicia ("Belagerungszustand"). Over the course of three years, Franz Joseph abolished essentially all concessions of liberal civil rights he had been forced to make in 1848. Only in 1859 after the Austrian defeat at Solferino, some reforms allowed a limited revival of nationalist ideas. Pan-Slavism provided a intellectual framework for nationalist movements all over Eastern Europe; nevertheless, Poles, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Czechs and other Slavonic peoples followed distinct national interests.

As a direct consequence of the Ausgleich between Austria and Hungary in spring of 1867, Franz Joseph I also allowed negotiations for a Austrian-Polish Ausgleich. This was formalised later in 1867, leading to wide-ranging autonomy for Galicia under Polish de-facto rule and dividing the previous 18 administrative entities into 74. Lviv remained the capital of Galicia.

The educational system changed the language of instruction from German into Polish (at least in cities - but little teaching happened on the countryside anyway), Poles held the absolute majority in the newly created Galizischer Landtag (regional parliament for Galicia) in Lviv, the Polish Club at the federal Reichsrat in Vienna was consolidated and efficient, the minister for Galicia was a always Polish. The Polish language was used in the administration and all public affairs, except for military matters and in the national railway company. In return, the official Poles now finally stood loyally by the Emperor.

This happened at the cost of the Ruthenian population, dominating the East of the country, and the previous elite of the German speakers - a mix of Jews, descendants of colonists from the 18th century and civil servants with families that had been sent to Galicia from Vienna over the course of the previous century. Whilst tensions between Poles and Ruthenians grew, German-speaking Jews gradually assimilated to the Polish dominance: In 1880, 5.4 percent of the Galician population claimed German as their mother tongue.

30 years later, it was only 1.1 percent - the share of non-Jewish German-speakers was constant at 0.5 percent. Emigration (despite of being very strong especially around 1900) fails to explain this phenomenon, since the total percentage of the Jewish population in Galicia was a constant 11 percent. Alongside with the Landtag, the universities in Krakow and Lviv became important centres for Polish and to a lesser extent Ruthenian nationalism in Galicia.

Polish-Ruthenian tensions turned into open conflict in eastern Galicia in the early 20th century, when strikes among agricultural labourers spread and Ruthenian peasants fought Polish landowners. In 1907, the election system was reformed and the suffrage became universal for men, equal and anonymous. This resulted in significant gains for the Ruthenians. Now the federal government in Vienna pressed for a Polish-Ruthenian settlement; conflict areas were the division of responsibilities in the Landtag as well as the foundation of a Ruthenian university in Lviv. Vienna′s support for the Ruthenian cause has a systemic dimension: The Russian Empire violently suppressed Ukrainian nationalist movements since a revolt in 1907. The Polish-Ruthenian settlement in Habsburg-Austrian Galicia eventually came with a "Partieller Ausgleich" in 1914.

Pre-University Education in Galicia: 1848 to 1914

Despite of a re-organisation of Galician primary schools in 1873, education in Galicia was inefficient until further reforms were made in 1890. By then, there was approximately one million children at the right age for compulsory education. However, only about 500,000 children did actually attend schools. The illiteracy rate was at a staggering 80 percent. Since the reforms of 1873, the number of primary schools had doubled to 5,000, but the teacher-to-student ratio was at 1: 100. There were 34 secondary schools in all of Galicia (28 Gymnasien, two Realgymnasien and four Realschulen). Only between 1890 and 1914, the illiteracy rate fell to 64 percent.

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Further Reading

Studentenverbindung: Fraternities and Burschenschaft

Wikipedia on the Habsburg Empire (Habsburg Monarchy)

Wikipedia on Nationalism

Sources for 19th century History (key to nationalism)