Austrian Poland


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Austrian Poland is Number 46 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Austrian Poland, most of which was known as Galicia, came under the control of Austria with the first partition of Poland in 1772. The province of Galicia was enlarged with the addition of several districts under the terms of the 1815 Treaty of Vienna. It reached its fullest extent in 1846, when the city of Cracow and its immediate surroundings, made an independent republic in 1815 under the protection of Russia, Prussia, and Austria (“the last vestige of the old free Poland”), was annexed by Austria. According to the 1910 census, Galicia had 8,025,000 inhabitants, of whom 4,672,000 were Polish speakers, 3,208,000 Little Russian (i.e., Ukrainian or Ruthenian) speakers, and 96,000 German speakers. Jews numbered 872,000, or about 11 percent of the population. The study notes that “Galicia has the densest agricultural population in Europe” and that pressures on the land had led to large-scale emigration to the United States. After World War I, Galicia became part of the reestablished independent Polish state.

Last updated: July 21, 2014