P r e f a c e
The history of an ancient, but forgotten town can be as simple as a paragraph or two, or as broad and complex as the scope of research allows. In such a case, the extent of the information would exceed the availability of written documentation. The recovery of sought-after data would therefore follow some indirect leads; including archeological artifacts, accidental evidence of past civilizations and the traditions of local folklore.
To formulate a monograph of such a town's history, where written information is scarce, it is necessary to complement factual knowledge with assumptions, deductions and conclusions to produce a reasonably accurate portrait of the past.
This approach out of necessity must be applied to the small pre-war Podolian town of Jazlowiec. The Post-World War Two history, and the will of victorious powers caused this once-prosperous community in the southeast of Poland to disappear from contemporary maps, its name no longer to be found anywhere in the world. As part of the territory ceded to the Soviet Union, it became a pawn of that great power, and subject to its whims. Like many long-forgotten places, this Podolian town experienced many stages of change and development throughout eastern European history. Beginning as a small Slavic settlement, it grew to become an important post on the East-West trade route and a strong military outpost in Poland's defensive system of its pre-partition days.
The town's final degradation immediately followed World War Two, when the Soviet government, after incorporating the Eastern territories of Poland into their vast empire, for reason of pleasing their Ukrainian allies, named the half-deserted, half-destroyed Jazlowiec with the meaningless name Jabloniwka, "Appletown" in Russian and Ukrainian. The obliteration of its name is reason enough to record Jazlowiec's great past and document its historic and sometime glorious existence.
Prior to the partition of Poland in the 18th century, the name Jazlowiec was well known to Poles, and their leaders and kings. The extent of its recognition varied with its importance to the Polish crown. It decreased to some degree in the 18th century, but reached its nadir during the time of Austrian occupation. During this time the town transformed into a small provincial community, struggling to stay alive and hang on to its ancient name. This changed briefly in the short period between world wars (1919-1939), when Jazlowiec made slow, steady economic progress and its name again gained some recognition within the Polish nation.
One of the causes of its revival was the female Order of the Immaculate Conception, which in the middle of the 19th century took residence in the former palace of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, which became a vital factor in the improvement of the town's economy and prestige. Another contributor to the revival was the 14th Lancers regiment, which adopted for its own the name Jazlowiec after fighting a victorious battle with Ukrainian forces at the town's doorstep. In the short period of Polish independence, the name gained sufficient popularity to be well known by the majority of Poles. Even during World War Two, its name was carried to countries like France and Great Britain, where the regiment that was destroyed by German tanks at the gates of Warsaw was revived to fight again.
Apart from the Soviets, one should also look to the nationalistic ideology of the Ukrainians as another reason for the obliteration of the town's ancient name. The Ukrainians once shared the town with Jews and Poles, but upon the destruction of the Jewish minority and the forced migration of Poles to post-war Poland after the Second World War, the Ukrainians eradicated the name Jazlowiec, considering it to be too Polish for their nationalistic sensibilities.
After the fall of communism the local Ukrainians did some soul searching. This made them revise their opposition to the name, which in ancient times was as much theirs as Polish. The name Jazlowiec has been brought back from oblivion and in the1980s was restored to its original geographical position. The Polish accent is no longer heard in it, but if history has something to say in this matter the name will always echo in Polish.
The intention, then, of this monograph is to compile the available information to reconstruct the history of Jazlowiec and to preserve it for posterity. Although in world history, the position this small Podolian place may be insignificant, its existence deserves preservation, and may be of interest to a broad spectrum of the Polish population as well as anyone with an interest in European History. The region may not now belong to Poland, but its history should always be an integral part of Polish history, and preservation of this past has as much value as the history of other parts of Poland and of Europe in general.
Stanley J. Kowalski