Why the city of Lviv is so important for Ukraine

On the eve of World War I, the city’s population was 206,100, half of whom were Polish Catholics, with significant Jewish (28 percent) and Greek Catholic (19 percent) minorities. Polish elites and Polish culture dominated, but in the following decades Lviv became more and more a . Between 1914 and 1944, the city changed hands seven times.

After the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Ukrainian soldiers took control of Lviv on November 1, 1918, making it the capital of the newly proclaimed. They were driven out three weeks later by Polish troops, who immediately launched a pogrom against the Jewish population.

During World War II, Lviv was first occupied by Soviet troops, then by the German Wehrmacht – who murdered the city’s Jewish population – and finally incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1945. Ukrainian nationalist organizations initially sided with Nazi Germany before being forced underground. For them the main enemy was the Soviet Union and they continued their struggle until the early 1950s. After the Soviet Union expelled the region’s Polish residents, Ukrainians moved into the city and formed the overwhelming majority, with Russians being the largest national minority amid an influx from other parts of the Soviet Union.

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