Galician Men

Jan Kuta / my grandfather Photo taken in France

Galicia no longer exists, not on any maps, no lands and no people, it vanished in 1918 and for the next 30 years the area was fought over, exchanged hands, borders, governments, many people lost their homes, many more were murdered. All that is left, is what the history books offer us, photographs, art, antiques and old family stories.

My great-grandfather was a Galician man, Polish Galician and Roman Catholic. His son, my grandfather was Polish, although he spent the last years of childhood in France and the remainder of his life in England.

What were Galician men like?

In 1880, an article was written offering an insight into what Galician men were like, for me, the article seems a little bias even though the article was written by a Krakow teacher and likely Galician himself, Krakow off cause was a part of Galicia.

by Bronislaw Gustawicz c.1880

This is a translation of excerpts from an article written by Bronislaw Gustawicz for the gazetteer Slownik geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego. Gustawicz, a teacher at St. Anne’s Gimnazjum in Krakow, he wrote this about 1880.

The Galician people, Polish and Ruthenian, are generally well-proportioned, robust, handsome, with engaging facial features and indefatigable strength and endurance. The Galician is characterized by a clear, healthy, inborn intelligence and circumspect courage. By nature possessing more good than evil inclinations when not subjected to depraving influences, he is religious, loyal, obliging, and hospitable. He is attracted to those who have treated him well and knows how to be grateful, but is, on the other hand, rarely vengeful. These good qualities are tarnished by sloth, indolence, a lack of liking for and persistence in work, a lack of education, and the often nasty habit of drunkenness. He only works as much as he must to satisfy his most essential needs, very few in number; he cares little about the elevation and improvement of his farm, about a more orderly, comfortable and healthy dwelling, about saving money or securing grain reserves. Thus when the expected harvest proves disappointing, or a natural catastrophe afflicts the area, he falls victim to need, hunger and illness, incurs usurious debt, and often gets into such a plight that, dispossessed of his house and land, he becomes a proletarian. He preserves old customs and manners, and does not like change of any sort, whether in life style or in the way he runs his farm, and most often rejects with suspicion and mistrust the most salutary advice, allowing himself with child-like gullibility to be exploited by leaseholders and usurers.

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