CHAPTER VIII

Under The Austrian Occupation

 

While the central Polish provinces still enjoyed the benefits of nominal independence, the territories in the southeast, which included Jazlowiec, became subject to changes brought about by the foreign rule. The Austrian share of the first Polish partition -Podolia, Pokucie and the district of Lwow became the new province of Galicia in the Austrian State.

This name was later extended to additional territories acquired in the third partition of Poland. In this political move the Austrians enlarged their possessions as Far West as Silesia.

In order to consolidate their bloodless conquest, the Austrian proceeded to promptly install their administration. Contrary to certain obligations undertaken with the Polish Assembly in which the Austrians agreed to continue Polish administrative and judiciary systems, they immediately introduced their own organization. Thus, while the district of Krakow was still free and experimenting with the new constitution, Eastern Galicia had already been divided into circuits and districts to comply with the Austrian system. Austrian nationals were brought in to govern the new province and the German language was introduced as the official language of the land. Lesser officials were recruited from the former Polish administration, which gave the appearance of compliance with earlier promises made to the Poles.

While the Austrians were getting themselves established in their new province in Galicia, unoccupied Poland, primarily the districts of Krakow and Warsaw, was going through political and social change brought about by General Kosciuszko's uprising and the declaration of a new constitution in 1793. The new reforms, which aimed at changing the Polish political system and freeing the serfs, had little or no effect on the lands lost to the Russians, Prussians and Austrians, and in the unoccupied areas, were too short a duration to be put in practice. The three powers crushed the uprising and divided the remaining free Polish territories in 1794. The Austrian thus acquired the rest of southern Poland, which included the district of Krakow.

The Austrian system of government, which had already been introduced in eastern Galicia, was now extended to the newly annexed lands, which were now to be known as Western Galicia. The provisions of the Polish constitution were abolished and the old feudal system of serfdom reintroduced, in effect erasing all the radical changes of the Kosciuszko revolution. The nobility, although deprived of their political power, still retained their privileged status of the peasants still remained their subjects. The upper classes also retained their former rights of ownership of land and some jurisdiction over the peasants. Some towns had their autonomous privileges recognized, although subjected somewhat by supervision from state officials.

In the case of Jazlowiec, the matter of self-government was a contentious issue and soon became the cause of frequent confrontations between citizens, landlords, and officials. The officials, having at their disposal several means to restrict the rights of the citizenry, tried on several occasions to reduce them to the status of serfs, as this relationship was much more beneficial to the landlords. This intertwined the future of the citizens of Jazlowiec with the selfish interests of their landlords.

Even though former arrangements supposedly remained in place, the acquisition of the Jazlowiec estate by the Potocki family in 1777 began gradual erosion of privileges for the citizens of the town. The new owners, realizing that there would be more to gain by reducing the people's status, worked to achieve those goals with varying degree of success over the years, and the negative effects soon became apparent. Open conflict between the administrator and citizens led to deterioration of the town's economy and further decrease in population. The exodus first became apparent among the local clergy, who, like Armenian clergy before them, were finding that there were less and less followers to justify their presence in the town.

First of these to leave was the Order of Paulini in 1777 (The Paulist Brothers), who had occupied the old castle for their monastery since the time of the Koniecpolskis. The Paulists moved to the district town of Zaleszczyki Wielkie, leaving the castle unoccupied and unattended. Before long some of the town's elements vandalized its interior, which was already in partial disrepair. The town commission, investigating the property in 1783, reported substantial damage to the interior, including tombs of former landlords, which had been opened and looted. It is not known whether any steps were taken to protect the castle from further destruction.

In that same year of 1783, the town council, in spite its limited political power and shortage of funds, undertook plans to bring running water into the town. Arrangements progressed only as far as to plan for the manufacture of earthen pipes for the water lines. Further conflict with the administrator and the deterioration of the local economy caused abandonment of the project.

Next to vacate Jazlowiec were the Dominicans, leaving their church, which was in good condition and well funded, to move to the larger town of Czortkow. Their Jazlowiec properties were sold at public auction, at which time, the real estate was acquired by the state government. The monastery was converted to a military warehouse, and the church itself was closed and allowed to decay into ruin.

The exodus of these religious organizations had been too much extent caused by the general Austrian policy directed against the Polish population in Galicia. Roman Catholic institutions were considered to the mainstay of Polish culture and therefore became prime targets of ethnic and religious intolerance. In the course of pursuing this policy, several churches and convents were closed, including those in Jazlowiec. Some were ordered torn down under the pretext of being in dangerous structural conditions and some were allocated to priest of non-Polish origins. So, the only remaining parish church in Jazlowiec was allocated to a French-speaking priest, who, in spite of all his good intentions, could not function effectively as its pastor.

This trend continued throughout the entire reign of Austrian Emperor Joseph II. By reducing the number of Catholic institutions, he both curtailed Polish patriotic activity and limited the influence of the Vatican in the territories under his control. In Galicia alone, 150 convents out of 214 were closed. In Jazlowiec, only one of the three original Roman Catholic post remained opened by the end of the emperor's reign.

But at the same time, the burden of taxation steadily increased as a result of the military unit garrisoned in the town. As population decreased, the greater the tax burden had to be shared with the remaining citizens. Excessive demands in both in kind and currency caused great dissatisfaction among the people and many voiced their complaints openly. The appointed administrator saw to that the military demands were met in full without regard for the people's well being.

Parallel to the conflict between the citizens and the landlord's administrator, who also appeared to have carried some state responsibilities, increased in intensity, culminating in 1782 when all original documents relating to the town's rights (including the one granted by King Kazimierz the Great in the 14th century) were impounded and sent to the district authorities under the pretext of intended approval. In this process, the documents were lost and never returned to the town council. In 1785, copies held by the council and Zukowski, the town's administrator, also impounded local guilds. Against vehement protests by the citizens, these were ordered destroyed by the said landlord's official. In the presence of the council he personally tore them up and had them liquidated.

The elected delegation of three citizens appealed to the higher authorities (apparently Austrian), but this appeal was not even taken into consideration. In response to this town's action, the angered administrator confiscated the town's property in the name of the landlord. Records dating from that period state that one of these properties, Kamienny Garb (Stone Hill), was reserved for the Countess Potocki as a restricted area for her morning strolls.

The council's appeal to the Austrian authorities against this unilateral decision was decided in favor of the landlord. In a further attempt to reduce the status of the citizens of Jazlowiec to serfdom, the town's seal was also impounded and sent to the district of Zaleszczyki Wielkie. There, it disappeared without a trace, like the documents pertaining to the citizen's rights had done before it. But although deprived of supporting evidence of their rights to self-rule, the town government continued to function and managed to survive until there was a change in landlords.

In 1800, the Grudnicki family purchased Jazlowiec. The new owners, represented by Krzysztof Grudnicki, were also indifferent to the town's internal matters and also opposed recognition of the citizens' former rights. In spite of the landlord's disapproval, the citizens elected a new mayor and town council in 1801. This government, although unofficial and unrecognized by the administrator, enjoyed widespread popularity and recognition among the townspeople. Even the Jews, who had always maintained a separate community, obligated themselves to a penalty payment if they did not abide by the rules of the newly elected government.

The Napoleonic wars, to which the Poles had attached great hope in regaining their independence, had little effect on Jazlowiec, which was engrossed in its own internal affairs. At this time, there was no visible enthusiasm for the developing idea of independent Poland. Even a short stay by Prince Joseph Poniatowski's cavalry in his former family estate could nor arouse patriotic feeling. In the early years of the 19th century, the people of Jazlowiec, deprived of spiritual leadership and with their rights suspended, were not ready to align themselves with a national independence movement as they still reasoned in the terms of the rights and privileges granted an ancient community.

Some effect from the Napoleonic wars on the eastern Galician territory was evidenced in post-war arrangements procured by the victorious powers of Prussia, Russia and Austria. By the terms of the Treaty of Vienna in 1800, the eastern part of Podolia was ceded to the Russians in recognition to their contribution in the victory over Napoleon. With this arrangement, Jazlowiec became a small town on the western frontiers of Russia. In 1815, this territory, by mutual agreement between Russia and Prussia, was returned to the Austrian Empire, an arrangement.

Soon after this transition the owner of Jazlowiec, Krzysztof Grudnicki, died, leaving the estate to a relative named Rozetta Blazowski, wife of Victor Blazowski. This change had no immediate impact on the town. The new owners showed no interest in revitalizing Jazlowiec in any meaningful way. They settled in at their newly built palace in the nearby village of Nowosiolka Jazlowiecka and lived the comfortable life of the Polish nobility, isolated from their subjects and the town affairs.

Within reforms instituted by Emperor Joseph II, Jazlowiec received its first public school in 1819. The new school was built east of Armenian church, just across the road from it. The school's main objective was to promote the German language among the populace as the official state language. This was in accordance with the emperor's policies to remove Polish culture and traditions from the new territories by educating the children and colonization with Austrian born subjects.

Around this time, the first Austrian colonists appeared in the Jazlowiec area, and therefore in the registry. Some of them were even given land and provided with funds to engage in farming. Others got involved with local trade and industry, such as the ever-needed flourmills. Being a very small minority in what was to remain a predominately Polish and Ruthenian community, their descendants ultimately became assimilated into the local population and adopted Polish customs, habits and traditions and even becoming members of the Polish national group.

Soon after the death of Emperor Joseph II, another noticeable change took place in Jazlowiec. In 1828, the Order of Dominicans moved back into town and reopened their church as the parish church for the Roman Catholics in the area. This right was granted due to the direct appeal of Archbishop Ankiewicz of the Lwow Archdiocese to the Vatican. The original parish church, once converted from the Armenian private building and now in immediate danger of collapse, was torn down to the ground. Since no records relating to its location can be found, its site can only be a matter of speculation.

As happened in the mid-18th century, Jazlowiec was subjected to another series of natural disasters. On May 1, 1828, torrential rains and a storm of hurricane force hit the town and the immediate area around it. Like the one fifty years before it, it caused considerable property damage, destroying several houses as well as the dike on the stream and the cemetery around the Roman Catholic church. Many people sought refuge on rooftops or by hanging to the trees. This storm was followed by a plague of locusts in the summer and by an earthquake in the fall of the following year. The quake seemed to be of small magnitude and caused no visible damage to local properties.

In the same year of 1828, Rev. Franciszek Siarczynski, the pastor of the Roman Catholic church and an amateur historian, published a short history of Jazlowiec in the provincial publication, "Statystyka Galicii" (Statistics of Galicia). This was the first case in which the past of this small and almost forgotten Podolian town was documented and brought to the attention of the Polish community in the province of Lwow as a memorial to glorious yesteryears. While this text was published in restricted area it did not reach historians of the time, and its contents are presently unknown.

This short history was only the first in a series of incident of wider interest in the history of Jazlowiec. A well-known Polish writer, poet and friend of USA President Thomas Jefferson, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, intrigued by the ruins of the castle and its legend, wrote a poem, "Duma o Jazlowcu" and had it published in "Historic Ecclesiae." Soon after, in 1836, a drawing of the castle by M.Dohrmer, an Austrian artist, appeared in the Polish paper "Przyjaciel Ludu," with a short explanatory note and a verse of Niemcewicz's poem. A second drawing of the castle appeared in the "Lithography of Galician Views," by Pillar, another Austrian artist. Somewhat earlier, a short paragraph on Jazlowiec was presented in the Armenian publication "General Geography," published in Rome in 1802. This writing dealt with the Armenian gate, considered by some to be another castle in the town. Although in ruin, it was still standing at the time, to be torn down later in the century out of concern it would collapse.

For the next decade or so, there is little information relating to the activities of the town. This can be attributed to the semi-dormant state of local government and the consequential lack of any record keeping. One of the few notes that remained from that period indicated that from 1815, Jazlowiec and its immediate area belonged to the district of Czortkow and that the name of the landlord was Victor Baron Blazowski, mentioned earlier in the text.

Another scrap of information that survived related to medical services in the town. This document testified that health care was in the hands of a trained physician, Dr. Michael Grossman. He is credited with opening a health resort that provided water treatment for its patients. Apparently, this clinic was fairly popular among the local gentry but interest gradually diminished and the medical center had to be closed. A section of the clinic, the bath, survived and remained in use for many years thereafter. It was still in use, mainly by Jewish population, in the years between two world wars, with gentiles admitted on a certain day of the week. This same convenience was extended to women, who also could use it on a special day of the week.

In 1841 the Jazlowiec estate passed through inheritance to Krzysztof Baron Blazowski, the only son of the deceased Victor. The new landlord, a young and energetic, was in many ways a blessing to the town. Motivated by a concern for the well being of the citizens and by sincere desire to improve the town's image and economy, plus a keen interest in its history, he brought about a revival in Jazlowiec. Beginning with reinstatement of citizen privileges of self-government within Austrian law, he mobilized resources to restore decaying historic structures, introduced necessary improvements in the town's business area and undertook investments to benefit the town and its immediate surroundings.

There was nothing that could be done for the castle, which lay in ruin, short of expending large sums of money for a project of a mostly sentimental nature. But he undertook with all the classic characteristics of a young man's nature the preservation of the Poniatowski palace, repairing it to a habitable state. In the center of the town, he built a fair size building to accommodate several shops, what could be considered as the first shopping center in Jazlowiec. Close to that, the built the town's first inn, with stables in the rear to accommodate travelers' horses.

Due to periodic epidemics of cholera, the new Austrian law called for cemeteries to be set up outside of habitable areas. Blazowski gave a plot of land outside the town for such a purpose and built a graceful Gothic chapel in its center, with tall slim towers visible from afar. Within this chapel space were tombs provided for the Blazowski family, with separate tombs built at the cemetery entrance for the prominent families of the town. Some of these tombs were decorated with stone carvings created by local artists.

Understanding the importance of transportation for the town's development, Blazowski intervened with Austrian authorities in the matter of roads and main thoroughfares. Due to his endeavors, a solid gravel road was built, connecting two terminal towns of Buczacz and Tluste. This road passed through Jazlowiec, and at this time was considered the most modern road in the entire district.

In order to improve business, Blazowski revived the traditional weekly fairs held every Tuesday for the sale of livestock and agricultural products. This greatly enhanced trade and commerce in the town and neighboring villages. One of the most appreciated innovations of Blazowski was the introduction of the first apothecary. This provided considerable convenience to the citizens, who prior to that had to travel ten miles to Buczacz to purchase medication.

The positive effects of his initiatives soon resulted in an increase in the town's population, which increased from 584 to over 2,000 by the year 1861. Although no records are available on the increase in trade and business, it can be safely assumed that they also increased in like proportion.

Parallel to these improvements, the government also extended public services to the population of Jazlowiec, which became a district judiciary seat along with concomitant offices, such as the post office, tax office and police station. A private citizens' association introduced the first bank, called "Kasa Stefczyka," combined with a farmers' cooperative known as "Kolko Rolnicze." The latter was a trading center for agricultural products and goods needed by the local people.

The reinstated, reorganized and fully functional town government had been modified in some respects to meet the new requirements of the community. The main modification was the retention of the administration of justice by the Austrian authorities, executed by the district court, which prior to that was in the hands of the elective justice of the Peace. This left only the town administration in the hands of the mayor and town council. This system stabilized the terms of the mayor and council to four years, and the council now consisted of twelve aldermen, representing equal numbers of three main ethnic groups - Polish, Ruthenian and Jewish.

The political events that took place in western Galicia in the mid-19th century had great impact on the population of the province. This was directly connected to the independence movement of the Poles, who never lost the opportunity to display their desire for freedom. Several secret organizations formed, operating in major towns and cities, leading to an eventual open insurgency. The insurrection in Krakow in 1846, originally planned as a combined liberation movement which was to begin simultaneously in all three parts of occupied Poland, although unsuccessful, began a wider independence movement in the whole of the Austrian Empire.

The declaration of the Republic of Krakow by the insurgents fired the imagination of young Polish patriots, and the uprising spread to other towns and cities, reaching as far east as Lwow. To counteract this, the Austrians undertook a two- pronged action: military response directed against the insurgents, and a political policy instituted to instigate antagonism among the lower classes against the more patriotically inclined nobility and intelligentsia. By spreading rumors among the peasants that the insurgents' proclaimed freedom for the lower classes was to benefit the upper classes only, the Austrians inspired resistance and hatred against the Polish nobility. In due course, peasant groups organized by the Austrians carried massacres against the landlords, and those who excelled in this deadly work were rewarded with land grants from the Austrian authorities.

Many landowners sought safety in larger towns and cities unaffected by this class conflict. In the Jazlowiec area the landlord of Beremiany estate, Kornel Ujejski, who fled to Lwow, wrote a popular patriotic song "Z Dymem Pozarow" (With the Smoke of Fire), placing blame for the fratricidal bloodshed among the Poles on the shoulders of the Austrian government. This song grew in popularity, and became something akin to a local national anthem, sung at various patriotic and religious functions.

The successful Austrian military action against the Polish insurgents, added to the massacre of the landowners by the peasants, brought the uprising to a tragic end; thus terminating the short-lived Republic of Krakow - the symbol of freedom and independence. This did not end the problem of Austrian minority rule, however. The Polish independence movement echoed in other areas of the Austrian Empire, and unrest in several territories crated major internal conflicts that the Austrian government settled with compromise and reform.

1948 was a year of profound change for the whole Europe, a year of revolutionary fervor that had enormous impact on the Austrian Empire. The uprising in Hungary, the unrest of the Galician Poles and revolution in Vienna, although individually unsuccessful, shook the foundations of the Hapsburg monarchy and forced the Austrian authorities to seek accommodation with the restive minorities within their rule. The empire was given a new name - The Austro-Hungarian Empire, in which both Austria and Hungary participated in running affairs of state.

The Galician Poles were less successful in gaining concessions from the government, but they did achieve increased participation in state and local government, representation to Austro-Hungarian parliament and a larger share of high offices in Galicia. In addition, the government abolished serfdom as a favor to the lower classes, freeing them from their feudal dependence on the landlords. This proclamation also provided for the land ownership for the peasants, a former exclusive privilege of the nobility.

At the time the Austrian also instituted some divisive policies in Galicia to counteract the Polish claims for independence. They had begun these in the mid-19th century with the purpose of exacerbating religious, national and cultural differences. In time these increased in intensity, eventually giving rise to Ukrainian nationalism, which generated animosity and even military confrontations between Poles and Ukrainians in Galicia in later years. But while this rivalry grew in magnitude in larger towns and cities, amiable relations between two national groups in Jazlowiec continued.

In the peaceful years following the upheaval of 1848, Jazlowiec gained some notoriety outside its boundaries. A little poem about its past appeared in 1856 in "Dziennik Literacki" (Literary News) in Lwow. The unknown poet, when visiting Jazlowiec, felt inspired by the town's past greatness and in a mood of patriotism called the stone walls of the castle to await for the arrival of Commander Jazlowiecki. We can deduce from the poem that the author had some knowledge of the history of Jazlowiec and that this history was a common knowledge among certain circles of the Polish community in eastern Galicia.

The view of the castle and its mysterious past must have fascinated local people as well. A short note, found in the town records, indicated that an unknown person, in an effort to preserve the castle's image, engraved its likeness in stone. The note did not indicate the location of the engraving, but states that it formed part of an old house, then in a state of complete dilapidation. If the engraving still exists, it would only be discovered by chance by a person aware of its existence.

The history of Jazlowiec, for so long buried in records and speculation, now found a proponent and enthusiast in the person of Rev. Sadok Baracz (Baroncz). Assigned to the Roman Catholic parish in Jazlowiec, the priest became so enthused with relics of the town's past that he took upon himself the task of recording its history in written form. Having a staunch supporter in the person of Krzysztof Baron Blazowski, he researched all available records both inside and outside the town to produce the first reliable account of the town's history.

Rev. Sadok Baracz published his history in 1861 under the title "Pamiatki Jazlowiecki" (Memorabilia of Jazlowiec), recording the town's well-documented events and achievements of its historically prominent people. Most of his text is supported with references to information source and often-complete quotes relating to facts and exploits. In doing so, he preserved for posterity much information that would have been otherwise permanently lost or destroyed, in view of the town's destruction in the future. Some of his research material was wisely deposited with the archives of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

After the 1861, where Rev. Baracz's book ends, the written records of Jazlowiec are scarce and difficult to locate, as the town's center, including the town hall, were destroyed by the Russian Army in World War One. The fire, carelessly started by drunken Russian soldiers, burned much of the business section and all the administrative offices of Jazlowiec to the ground, also destroying the town's archives and documentation. Therefore, information of that period is incomplete, although some of it was preserved in the convent of Immaculate Conception, which began at that time and became an entire history unto itself.

Considering the size of Jazlowiec, the settling of a convent in the walls of the old Poniatowski palace was a great and important event to all people in the area. It took place around 1863, when the Order of the Immaculate Conception, founded in Rome in 1857 by Sister Marcelina Darowski, moved to the former king's palace with the consent of Krzysztof Baron Blazowski. The first nun that visited the palace must have been enchanted by its scenic setting, which was later described by one as thus:

"There are some places in the world as if destined for a special purpose with a special goal. Such is Jazlowiec, the gate to Podole, wrapped in mystery of old legends and brightened with splendid glory of the past. Many elements contributed to the creation of this place meant for serving the human mind and soul. The location talks with its beauty about the ultimate values and almighty God; the ruins of the mighty castle bring back to the human memory the ancient time when brave warriors and their commanders fought fearlessly against the eastern invaders; the old majestic tress, which throw shadows upon the valley of the Turk, talk between themselves about the times when King Jan Sobieski in the presence of his wife Marysienka received foreign dignitaries after his defeat of the powerful Turkish army; below the ruins of the castle and opposite the gate to the palace of the ill-fated King Stanislaw Poniatowski, meant for the convent and educational institution, extends the arms of the cross as if saying that this is the place where people will draw light and spirit for life."

 

The prime object of this newly- created religious institution was to gather young ladies of Polish nobility to work for charity and education. Dowries brought in by the members allowed the convent to achieve comfortable economic independence, freeing them for charitable work and meditation. Soon after the palace was remodeled and the nuns moved in, they opened a high school for the daughters of the upper class to assist them in preparing for the life of the successful socialite. The long list of families from the nobility includes some that distinguished themselves later on in life. One of the alumni was the popular Polish write Maria Rodziewicz, who produced many novels about 19th century life in Poland under foreign occupation. Poles read her patriotic books in all corners of the country, stimulating young minds and reawakening nationalistic feelings among the younger generation. The school soon gained wide renown within the entire country, and many young girls came there to get their education. Several problems occurred when the Austrian government, always mindful of Polish desire for independence, began to take notice of the school, but these difficulties were overcome due to the assistance of some influential people in the Polish community in Galicia.

The convent brought in with it another blessing: soon after its opening, Jazlowiec and the surrounding area experienced a revival in devotion to Saint Mary as patron saint of the town. Worship of the Mother of God had earlier roots in Jazlowiec, going back as far as 15th century. The very first picture of Madonna in Jazlowiec, known as "Bogurodzica" (Mother of God), hung in the castle's chapel and was an object of special reverence. As old record states: "It was a special treasure of the Jazlowiecki family and source of many blessings". In 1582, when the Armenians completed their new church, Mikolaj Jazlowiecki donated a picture of Saint Mary to their parish. At the time when the Turkish armies were closing in on Jazlowiec (1672), the Armenians moved the picture to the town of Brody, where it soon became an object of special reverence to the people in that general area. Some time later it was moved from there to the Armenian cathedral in Lwow, where it remained until World War Two.

Mikolaj Jazlowiecki, a fervent Calvinist in his early years, was also the donor of another holy picture of Saint Mary to the Dominican church in Jazlowiec. After settling his dispute with them, he offered for their church as copy of the Maria Maior in the city of Vatican, which was recognized as the official picture of the Order. This picture was generally held as a holy painting and the source of many blessings received by the parishioners. When the Austrians expelled the Dominicans from Jazlowiec in 1788, they took the picture with them to their new location in the town of Czortkow.

There was another painting in Jazlowiec's history that was also the subject of profound veneration by the people of the town. When Stanislaw Koniecpolski was released from Turkish captivity in 1620 he presented the castle's chapel a copy of the painting of St. Mary of Czestochowa. This picture, often called the "black Madonna," was his offering to God in gratitude for his safe return home. At the time he presented his painting he defined the purpose of his generosity in the following words: "...so that the sons of the fatherland, graceful neighbors, and all subjects who, due to the distance, cannot make pilgrimage to Czestochowa could faithfully fulfill their local religious obligation..." From the time Jan Koniecpolski brought the Paulist Order to Jazlowiec in 1717 and settled them in the castle, the painting remained in their care until they vacated the premises in 1777, taking the picture with them to the town of Zaleszczyki Wielkie. Since that time, no further history of the painting was recorded. While it was in Jazlowiec, the people considered the picture to be a miraculous image of Saint Mary, Protector of Jazlowiec.

Devotion to Saint Mary was revived with the opening of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception. The rebirth of this reverence began in 1882 when the founder of the Order, Marcelina Darowska, ordered the statue of their patron saint to be carved in Rome, a replica of the famous statue in the Vatican and done in white marble. For this task, she contracted a well-known Polish sculptor, Tomasz Oskar Sosnowski, who specialized in this type of religious art.

The white marble statue was brought to the convent on its completion, placed in the chapel and blessed, in 1883, by Bishop Szczesny Falinski, a Polish patriot exiled from Warsaw by the Russians. Since that time, it acquired the colloquial name "Saint Mary of Jazlowiec," or the more reverent "Lady of Jazlowiec."

Saint Mary was also recognized as the patron saint of the town. One of the famous poet of the World War Two era, Kazimierz Wierzynski, when composing a tribute to Saint Mary, began his lengthy poem with the following dedication do the Lady of Jazlowiec:

Mother of God, Patron of Jazlowiec,

Who comes to us every Sunday

And takes stroll over the fields,

Over the ramparts of the castle,

Through the vineyards and apricot orchards,

You are taking to heaven the beauty of Podole.

 

Over the years, many other poems and songs were composed to the Lady of Jazlowiec, and many prominent people prayed in front of the statue. One of the songs became the hymn of the order of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, and another was composed for the 14th Polish Cavalry Regiment as their regimental song. Several nuns and students expressed their deep feelings for the patron saint by creating a great number of poems, many with added lyrics. The citizens of Jazlowiec often prayed to the Lady for favors or to thank for favors received. Some dedicated their children into her care, especially in time of war. As Saint Mary of Jazlowiec rose in fame, so too, did the town, rising from its obscurity once again regaining national recognition.

 

The last quarter of the 19th century, which was known as a period of prosperity for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had positive effect on all aspects of political, cultural and economic life in Galicia. Lwow, the capitol of eastern part of the country and the city in which the progress centered, was the prime beneficiary of this advancing trend. In a comparatively short time, the city expanded its original limits and increased in population to over 200,000. It opened its doors to trade and industry, becoming a major trading center for manufactured goods and agricultural commodities. It also expanded its educational facilities by adding several departments to the existing University and opening branches for specialized training. Private and public funds were raised to provide for the opening of several cultural centers, including a museum of science and natural history, a gallery of arts, theaters, an opera and a famous center of Polish culture called the Ossolineum. All of these institutions became objects of pride for the Poles in Galicia and other parts of Poland as well.

Along with these basically Polish accomplishments, there was visible growth in nationalism, especially between Poles and Ukrainians. While the Poles organized in open or secret societies to regain lost independence, the Ukrainians, supported by the Austrians, put forth the goal of an illusionary state stretching from Galicia to Caucasus Mountains, aligned with the Austro-Hungarian state. Most of the territories of this proposed future state were to be taken from the Russians. The only Austrian territorial contribution would be the Eastern Galicia, a light loss to them.

Along with this grand plan, the Ukrainians also proposed the radical idea of eliminating all Poles from Galicia. The Poles were the main obstruction in their quest for a greater state. This drastic proposal was assisted in dragging up an ancient motto "smert Lacham" (death to Poles), which had originated in the early Slavic era when the Lekhs (Poles) and the Kievian Russians bordered one another on the eastern fringes of Podolia.

The strongest exponent of this movement and to a great extent its ideologist was Archbishop Count Andrei Szeptycki. Although of Polish origin, he used his influence among the faithful in the Greek Catholic Church to further his plans, inciting hatred towards Poles among his followers. This had little impact at first, as traditions of peaceful co-existence between the two ethnic groups had existed for centuries, but the idea slowly began to take roots, especially among the Greek Catholic clergy and Ukrainian intelligentsia.

At the time Jazlowiec was not experiencing any ethnic divisiveness, as it had a historic tradition where every group had its rights and place in society. The old idea of self-rule and ethnic privileges were still the most important issue normalizing their mutual existence.

Since Blazowski's re-instatement of town government, the influence of the mayor (burmistrz) and the council had increased both in power and importance. In addition, the old guild of craftsmen, previously denied their charter, was resurrected on differently arranged basis. The guild this time around was a joint organization of all town's craftsmen under the leadership of an elected president (cechmistrz). They also retained the ancient tradition of educating young men in their chosen crafts through long years of training with the masters and mandatory examination. Not until this process was completed could a young man engage in his chosen profession on his own.

The Jewish community, which had always existed as a separate group, began anew their former practice of self-government as granted to them by Poniatowski. Its basic tenet was autonomy in their internal affairs, which included binding arbitration in lesser disputes. Judging by the size of the synagogue at this time, the Jewish community must have been fairly large and had substantial means its disposal.

In 1896, one of the most capable members of the Jazlowiec community and a man of Armenian descent, Jan Kurianski, was elected to the office of mayor. Due to his enterprising ability and wisdom, he retained the office for the next twenty years, and during his tenure the progressive course begun by Krzysztof Baron Blazowski reached new heights. Kurianski's tenure was known to be one of great prosperity, but some of this has to be attributed to the general progress in the whole of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The town's development may have reached even further had not the railroad bypassed it. In spite of several appeals to revise the railroad plans in favor of Jazlowiec, the Austrian authorities refused to consider the town's request. This imposed several limitations on the town's progress, as business began to favor the town of Buczacz because it's close proximity to the railway line. Jazlowiec was thus relegated to secondary status in the shadow of her sister town, a scant ten miles away.

At that time the town still exercised some judiciary rights, although not fully consistent with Austrian law. The authorities because of its time-honored tradition tolerated it, however. Its basic function was to administer justice through an elected arbitrator, who settled lesser disputes without going through costly court procedure.

When Jan Kurianski was elected to the office of mayor, his friend Jan Rola became the town arbitrator, and Rola soon gained the respect and popularity of the community for his fair and rational judgments. Some of the citizens even went so far as to display preference for Rola over Kurianski in the mayoral election. But Rola declined in deference to his friendship with Kurianski. This tale was often quoted when the question of friendship and neighborly relationship became an issue in Jazlowiec.

The importance of the arbitrator's office waned after the death of Jan Rola, who passed away in the prime of his life due to a late diagnosis of appendicitis. That the citizens of Jazlowiec held Rola in high esteem can be attested to the story that grew into local legend about an incident at his funeral, which was a one-of-a-kind affair for the town. Both the Greek and the Roman Catholic pastors attended the customary ceremonial mass, and when the funeral procession was on the road to the cemetery, it passed the Jewish synagogue. The leaders of their community stood by the road, heads bowed, their rabbi holding a copy of the Ten Commandments. Never before and never after had all the three religious groups taken part together in the funeral of a prominent member of the community.

This period of relative prosperity did not pass without natural disaster, however. Around 1885, as recalled by older citizens, a storm of hurricane force and torrential rains hit the Jazlowiec area, again causing a deluge and flooding in the center of the town. By some accounts, the water reached the upper level of the bridge near the Roman Catholic church, which would indicate a crest of twenty feet or more. Property damage must have been substantial, but there are no official records as to loss of life, and very likely the documents relating to this disaster were part of the archives destroyed the fire in World War One.

As bad as the natural disaster was, the man-made disaster of war was much worse. As soon as World War One broke out in the summer of 1914, it almost immediately affected the Jazlowiec area. The Austrian army, unable to hold the eastern front, withdrew rapidly and Russian troops took possession of the territory as far south as the Dniestr River. As the Russians approach the town, the terrified populace took refuge in the convent, storing their precious possessions in a room designated for that purpose by the nuns.

The left wing of the convent was appropriated for the use as a military hospital as demanded by the Russians. The nuns also opened a smaller hospital and kindergarten for small children. This was meant to assist those women whose husbands had been called to serve in the Austrian army. At that time, some of the populace, fearing the effects of the war, evacuated south of the river to the town of Drohobycz. The military action that passed through Jazlowiec brought the Russian troops in, who stayed there for a while. At some point of their occupation some drunk men started the fire which spread quickly over the entire enter of the town and consumed every building that stood in its path. The entire center of the town including the town hall and the ancient synagogue were reduced to smoldering rubble. Most of the gentile section of Jazlowiec was spared the calamity including the church and the convent.

The Russian offensive bogged down on the Dniester River where in the spring of 1915 heavy fighting occurred. Soon the convent hospital began to fill with wounded Russian soldiers. In June, the military hospital took over most of the convent building and remained there for most of the month. During this time, 1180 wounded soldiers passed through the hospital. In the second half of July, the convent hospital began filling with the sick, as an outbreak of cholera ran rampart through the Russian ranks. By the end of August, eighty people died of the disease. On September second, the Austrians recaptured Jazlowiec.

The town did not remain in Austrian hands for very long. By June, 1916, the front line ran about two kilometers east of town, and the headquarters of the 15th Hungarian Division requisitioned part of the convent. Heavy Russian attacks again forced them to retreat behind the Dniester line, and some nuns were evacuated to safety in Jaroslaw, together with some students that chose to continue their studies during the war. As the heaviest fighting again raged around the town, the populace again sought refuge in the convent.

From the seventh of June, 1916, Jazlowiec was once again in Russian hands, with the convent now serving as offices for different sections of the Russian army. A month later, July twenty sixth, the Prussian army, allies of the Austrians, entered the town, and again the convent was appropriated for military needs.

Throughout this terrible fighting and troops movement, while the high school for the daughters of nobility was almost closed, the nuns open the primary school for the local children. The school reached its peak student enrollment, with the nuns registering more than two hundred children in their classes. Apparently, the local children displayed more enthusiasm for education than ever before.

By September, the front had moved further east, allowing the nuns to return from Jaroslaw and to resume their normal duties at the convent. The primary school grew even larger, necessitating dividing of the classes into morning attendance for girls and afternoon attendance for boys. The town at this time was not subjected to further hardship, as the military traffic merely passed through on its way to various destinations.

The town's destruction had terrible adverse effects on the citizens. Seeing their town in ruins and all their property destroyed, many decided to find greener pasture elsewhere. Although the war still raged on, many of the Jewish families and some gentiles made their way to the western hemisphere, mainly to the United States. Most of the properties they left behind remained in ruin for long time during the period between the two World Wars. Their exodus had a negative impact on the rebuilding of Jazlowiec, which became the main goal of those who stayed behind.

The end of the war was finally declared on November eleventh, 1918, which for Poles became their Independence Day. After nearly 150 years of foreign occupation, the land of Eastern Galicia became once again an integral part of a unified Polish state. On this joyous day the citizens of Jazlowiec for the first time saw Polish flags being hoisted on the castle walls while refrains from the Polish national anthem reverberated from their heights.

At this glorious moment, the memories of rich historic past and the town's achievements returned to the walls of Jazlowiec, bringing with them the spirit of freedom and long awaited independence.

 

 


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