“Shche ne vmerla” – Polish poet wrote about Ukraine


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Ukrainian researchers managed to find a fragment of a historical postcard of the early twentieth century. On it, the appeal to the Ukrainian people of the Pole Ludwik Tomanek was written by him in defense of the identity of Ukrainian culture. The document is an important historical artifact, as it proves that during the period of growing nationalist ideas there were not only ethnic contradictions between Poles and Ukrainians, but also good neighborly relations and respect for one’s own historical choice.

Historical context

The western lands of modern Ukraine in the early twentieth century were divided between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. The situation was complicated by the fact that the Ukrainian lands were part of the Grand Austria – the Poles, who always considered these lands their own.

Russian propaganda poster on the walls of Ukrainian Lviv. Foto: “Новий шлях”

In the summer of 1914, these lands became the scene of a military performance of the First World War. And on the 4th September of the same year, Russian troops entered the capital of Galicia – L’viv. Immediately, the main propaganda weapon of discord became language. Within a week of the liberators or occupiers staying in the city, almost everything Ukrainian disappeared. Solov’ina was declared the language of hostile agents, and printing houses, newspapers, libraries, and bookstores were closed on such apparently fabricated charges.

However, imposing one’s own views and ways of perceiving them had the opposite effect. The Ukrainians of Galicia were united because of the new enemy, which the Russian Empire has now clearly became.

Ukrainian Pole is a Polish Ukrainian

A Pole by birth, Ludwik Tomanek was born on June 1891 in a Catholic family in the village of Dolyna (L’viv region). The writer spent his childhood and youth in Ukrainian Galicia. He later moved to Krakow, where he worked and taught at a local university.

Ludwik Tomanek dedicated his work to independent Ukraine during the national conflicts between Ukrainians and Poles

In June 1915, when the Russian army left L’viv after a long battle, Ludwik, together with hundreds of Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, Hungarians, and Jews, went to the main square of the city, the Market, to hear the main news: “The sun of freedom shone on us again. The opportunity to speak our native language and the faith of our parents have returned to us!”

The authorities of the Austrian emperor on his return to the city revoked all orders and directives of the Russian military commandant’s office. As a result, L’viv residents of all nationalities of the multi-ethnic empire were able to return to normal life – to study in schools, read books and discuss the latest news in a language convenient for them.

Tension rise

The departure of the Russians from Galicia greatly contributed to the national and patriotic uplift of the Ukrainians of Galicia. For the first time in a long time, Ukrainians felt that they could now be the driving force behind their own state-building processes.

Andrei Tchaikovsky headed the Committee of Ukrainians of Lviv

On the 22th June, 1915, the L’viv’s Committee of Ukrainians was even established, headed by a Ukrainian born in the L’viv region, the writer Andriy Tchaikovsky. However, the wind of new changes also affected the Polish people, who lived densely in L’viv. New pro-Polish national-patriotic organizations, circles, and even proto-military formations began to emerge.

All of these was the sign of only one thing – a new interethnic confrontation of a multinational city was inevitable. So, the long-settled question “Whose is L’viv?” will be grave again.

Identity based on mutual respect

This time became difficult for many L’viv families. It also happened that the father was a Jew, the mother considered herself a Ukrainian, and the son called himself a Pole. Everything was very closely intertwined in a city with more than seven hundred years of history.

Ukrainian War Memorial in Warsaw

At this difficult time, the Pole Ludwik Tomanek, inspired by the desire of Ukrainians for their own freedom, wrote the already mentioned poem-recall “Nie Zginela” (“Did not die”), which appears on Polish postcards! In the poetic lines the author mentions the struggle of the Ukrainian people for independence and respects the new Ukrainian state, which will soon appear from the Carpathians to the Crimea:

“And the glory did not perish! Brothers,
This is the reality of crimson for you and us.
It’s time for slaves to break the shackles!
Great nation! Your Freedom is coming!”

In 2017, a fragment of a postcard with a proclamation was found by the well-known Ukrainian poet and politician – Dmytro Pavlychko. The poetic work of the Polish artist impressed Dmytro Vasyliovych so much that he immediately decided to translate it into Ukrainian. The Ukrainian edition in Toronto (Canada) “New Way” wrote about it.

The original leaflet with a poem by Ludwik Tomanek, dedicated to Ukraine. Foto “Новий шлях”

Не вмерла

О, ще не вмерла слава України!
Земля велика, сильна і вродлива
Часи згадала шаблі й карабіна,
Коли на битву йшла, немов на жнива;
Рум’янець встиду на обличчі грає,
І жаль пече за давньою добою,
Коли історія в її багатім краї
Писалася мечем на полі бою.

Не згинула, не вмерла Україна,
Хоч цар її тяжким батогом крає,
Хоч голос закатованого сина
Задавлений – він є, не помирає…
Даремно кат побільшує офіри —
Даремно будить злоби завірюху —
Уб’є він плоть, але не знищить віри,
Зрубає тіло – не зрубає духу.

О, ще не вмерла мати Україна!
Ця пісня лине від Карпат до Криму,
Несе її Дніпрова хвиля синя,
Зоря підносить в далеч непрозриму.
І слава не загинула! Братове,
Це ж вам і нам ява багрянорода.
Пора невольницькі зірвать закови!
Велика націє! Іде Твоя Свобода!

Ludwik Tomanek


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