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The Second Polish Republic 1919-1939

Coat of Arms of the Second Republic of Poland 1919-1927

November 1, 1918

With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an independent Western Ukrainian National

Republic is proclaimed in Lwów. Almost immediately, war breaks out with the Poles. There is a major

pogrom in Lwów.


The Treaty of Versailles promises the Jews of the new state of Poland protection of minority rights, their

own schools, respect for the Sabbath, and their national traditions. These hopes are not fulfilled.

Schools are not allowed to develop freely and the kehillot are tightly controlled to ensure the support

of government candidates. The numerus clausus is introduced in the universities and certain courses are

restricted entirely

April, 1919

In April, the Polish army under General Haller invades Galicia. By July, the Ukrainian Galician Army has

crossed over into eastern Ukraine.

Inter-war period.

The Polish state’s policy is anti-Semitic; Jews cannot find employment in the civil service, in schools, on

the railways, banks, or state-run monopolies. Since the state also licenses artisans and controls the

banking system and foreign trade, employment for Jews in these enterprises is restricted. In this regard

their lot under independent Poland is much worse than under the Austrian regime.


In the elections to the Sejm (Polish Parliament) for the Temporary Jewish National Council, the General

Zionists receive 50% of the vote.


The former Austrian province of Galicia is now divided into four provinces. The former Drohobycz

Administrative District becomes part of the Province of Lwów.


Jews make up 10.5% of the population of Poland (probably a low figure). In the former province of

Galicia, the percentage of Jews in cities is high.


National representation in the Sejm reaches its peak, over 50%. Although the General Zionists with the

Mizrachi dominate Polish-Jewish politics, they are divided. The more moderate Galician faction being

represented by Leon Reich of Lwów. There are several other Jewish parties active in this period.

Non-Zionist orthodoxy is represented by Agudat Israel. It dominates the kehillot and favors good

relations with the government. The left-leaning Bund supports the working class and promotes Yiddish

culture. This party begins to gain strength during the thirties when it dominates many of the kehillot.


24.4% of the student body in Polish universities is Jewish.

Coat of Arms of the Second Republic of Poland 1927-1939


789,886 Jews live in the area that was Galicia.


On the elections to the 18th Zionist Congress, the Labour Zionists rather than General

Zionists dominate.


8.2% of the student body in Polish universities is Jewish.

© Valerie Schatzker 2016


This history was compiled by Valerie Schatzker with the help of information provided by William Fern.