The Rise and Limits of Participation

The Political Representation of Galicia’s Urban Jewry from the Josephine Era to the 1914 Electoral Reform

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  • 1 Austrian Academy of Sciences

This article provides an overview of the political representation and integration of Galician Jews on the municipal, provincial, and central state level under Austrian rule. It demonstrates that political representation on the latter two levels started only after the revolution of 1848 and was rather modest considering the numeric and economic weight Jews enjoyed in Galicia. Even though representation in municipal councils started earlier, the position of Jews depended very much on local circumstances. After the turn of the century, the widening of the electorate to the lower classes led to a broader Jewish representation and participation not only in terms of numbers but also within the political spectrum. This is particularly true for the paper’s second part. In this section, the text explores the reform of the electoral system for Galicia’s provincial parliament and the attitude of Jewish politicians towards the compromise eventually found in 1914. The article argues that among Jews the positive or negative assessment of the new voting system depended largely on their position in the larger antagonism between Jewish nationalists and assimilationists. The former complained that the entire reform was on the backs of the Jews ignoring their numeric strength and their national rights. Assimilationists, on the other hand, were satisfied that, against all counterclaims of Zionists and Anti-Semites, the compromise legally established that Jews were Poles.

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the political representation and integration of Galician Jews on the municipal, provincial, and central state level under Austrian rule. It demonstrates that political representation on the latter two levels started only after the revolution of 1848 and was rather modest considering the numeric and economic weight Jews enjoyed in Galicia. Even though representation in municipal councils started earlier, the position of Jews depended very much on local circumstances. After the turn of the century, the widening of the electorate to the lower classes led to a broader Jewish representation and participation not only in terms of numbers but also within the political spectrum. This is particularly true for the paper’s second part. In this section, the text explores the reform of the electoral system for Galicia’s provincial parliament and the attitude of Jewish politicians towards the compromise eventually found in 1914. The article argues that among Jews the positive or negative assessment of the new voting system depended largely on their position in the larger antagonism between Jewish nationalists and assimilationists. The former complained that the entire reform was on the backs of the Jews ignoring their numeric strength and their national rights. Assimilationists, on the other hand, were satisfied that, against all counterclaims of Zionists and Anti-Semites, the compromise legally established that Jews were Poles.

This article1 explores the development of the political representation of Galicia’s Jewry after an introductory overview of their history in the province. The Habsburg rulers in general disapproved of the political participation of their subjects. Yet even the wealthy urban Jews, with very few exceptions, were not allowed the limited forms of political representation that their Christian counterparts had enjoyed for decades. I will analyze Jewish representation on three levels—the municipality, the central state, and the province—mainly with a focus on the decades after the revolution of 1848 until the beginning of the First World War. Jewish representation for most of this period, but actually of Gentiles too, largely meant representation for the elite. By the turn of the century, an increasing number of people contested the representation monopoly of the upper strata. By then the conflict lines were not only found in the right-liberal-left political spectrum, but along the larger question of acculturation and Jewish nationalism.

The heart of this paper is presented in its latter section, which examines the discussions leading to the new electoral law that the Galician provincial diet introduced in early 1914 and the provisions for Jewish representation within this regulation. Even though the outbreak of the war aborted its implementation, this law gives an important insight into general Galician power relations and the position Jews held within them. This new provincial electoral system was mostly a compromise between Polish and Ruthenian2 national interests. Jewish nationalists claimed that this deal was negotiated on the backs of the Jews and accused assimilationist politicians of treason. I, however, argue that certain regulations respected the interests of the Jewish bourgeoisie as long as these interests were not nationally but corporately conceived. A closer look at the clauses suggests that the electoral law introduced territorial and non-territorial provisions to ensure representation for wealthy Jewish city dwellers as well as the province’s commercial elite.

Introduction to Galicia

In 1772, the sovereigns of Russia, Prussia, and the Habsburg Empire agreed on the First Partition of their joint neighbor, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Vienna’s piece of the pie was an approximately 80,000 square kilometer territory with two major urban centers, the royal city of L’viv (Ger. Lemberg, Pol. Lwów, Yid. Lemberik) and the trading city of Brody (Yid. Brod or Brodi); Cracow was not yet part of the Empire. The Habsburg administration merged these acquisitions into one province, the Crownland of Galicia and Lodomeria with L’viv as its capital. Of the approximately 2.5 million inhabitants, Jews numbered between 170,000 and 250,000 whereas Roman Catholics made up around 800,000 and Greek Catholics accounted for circa 1.5 million people. These numbers are rough estimations, because the first censuses in the 1770s brought very divergent results. This is especially the case for the Jewish population, who due to the high per capita taxation introduced by the Austrians had good reason to hide their actual numerical strength (Brawer 1990: 15–28). With over 6,000 members each, the Brody and L’viv kahal were by far the most important Jewish communities in Galicia at that time (östA, ava, Hofkanzlei, Ktnr. 1520, iv T 1, Gal. 1784).

Vienna’s enlightened policy forced a complete reorganization on Galicia’s Jews in order to increase their utility for the state. For a little less than a century, the state approached its Jewish subjects in three intertwined ways: control, taxation, and (limited) social integration. Maria Theresa abolished the hitherto existing autonomous Jewish communities, the so-called kahalim, in 1775 replacing them initially with a hierarchical structure with a state paid chief rabbi at its top. Only nine years later, her son Joseph ii abandoned this structure and limited the respective local Jewish communities to their religious duties (Gelber 1924: 303–327). Many of his other regulations had a cultural effect as well, but were born out of the logic of better control: compulsory German-language schooling in 1781/1787, interdiction of Yiddish or Hebrew bookkeeping in favor of German books in 1785, abolition of rabbinic courts in 1785, and literacy examination by the district officer in order to gain marriage permission in 1789 (Maner 2007: 237–238; Sadowski 2010: 344–373). The aim to Germanize Galicia’s Jews was not intended as a nationalizing measure, but was born out of the conviction of contemporary Gentile and Jewish Enlighteners that the German language per se had already a progressive and civilizing effect on people.

Collecting taxes was also a way to make Jews more “useful” to the state. Jews had to pay a per capita toleration tax and taxes on kosher meat and Sabbath candles. They had to pay a fee for the marriage permission, and since 1788 each Jewish community had to offer a certain number of recruits to be drafted into the imperial army (Grodziski 1999: 68–70). Even though these taxes were considerable, all Jews, even those living in the countryside, continued to be personally free and were not bound to the landed estates like the overwhelming majority of the peasant serfs.

Although the special tax obligations continued, the toleration edict of 7 May 1789 was a turnaround in Galician Jewish history. It aimed at a social and political integration of the Jewish population on the long run (see in general Karniel: 1986; legal text in: Continuatio 1789: 90–100 [Ger.], 101–111 [Pol.]). This process reached its first peak during the Revolution of 1848 when the special Jewish taxes were abolished. In contrast to the proclaimed but later recalled legal and political equality of Austria’s Jews, the Jewish taxes were not reintroduced during Austria’s neo-absolutist backlash in the 1850s. For full legal emancipation, Jews in the Habsburg Empire would have to wait until the December Constitution after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867. As I will show in the next section, legal emancipation did not prevent legal discrimination of Jews as regards political representation.

The emancipation brought also another crucial change for the Empire’s Jews. The Austrian constitution of 1867 recognized nine different national groups, largely defined according to the languages registered in the censuses. Whereas Jews were clearly considered as a separate group before 1848 and vaguely continued to be seen as such until 1867, the new constitution clearly defined them as solely a religious group. Hence, the Jewish national movement could claim neither any linguistic rights for the promotion of Yiddish or Hebrew, nor political rights for their conceived nation (Brix 1982b: 353–389).

Even though most of Galicia’s Jews might have perceived themselves as a distinctive group over most of the 150 year timespan of Habsburg rule, Galician Jews were by no means a homogenous population. They adhered to different religious and intellectual currents and loyalties. Numerically most important was the Hassidic movement, which had quickly gained ground in those territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that would later form Galicia. By the end of the eighteenth century the vast majority of Galician Jews, especially the lower strata, were Hassidic (Dubnow 1931: vol. 1, 265; vol. 2, 230). A few but important exceptions were the large and powerful communities in L’viv, Cracow (Pol. Kraków, Ger. Krakau, Yid. Kroke), and Brody that stayed attached to Orthodox Jewry. The latter city was known throughout the world of Ashkenazim not only for its rabbinic scholarship but also as one of the few strongholds of the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment movement, besides L’viv, Cracow and Ternopil’ (Pol. Tarnopol, Yid. Tarnepol) (see in general: Kuzmany 2011a; Gertner 2013). Conflicts between these groups were frequent, and the state was an unfair arbitrator in strongly backing the Enlighteners not least for their positive attitude towards the state and cultural integration (Mahler 1985: 69, 90, 101).

Cultural integration for many decades meant acculturation to the German language and dress and certainly not assimilation or conversion (Mahler 1985: 44). This pro-German orientation of the Jewish elite was challenged only after Galicia gradually extended its de facto autonomy during the 1870s. Now, Polish-Jewish friendship associations like the Przymierze braci (Union of Brothers), writers like Moritz Rappaport, and literary critics like Wilhelm Feldman favored a pro-Polish position. However, recurring anti-Semitic tendencies within Polish national associations and politics forced them to defend Jews as a group (Mendelsohn 1982: 98–107). Despite the emergence of a Zionist movement in Galicia, assimilationist positions continued to be strong among educated people. In 1907, students formed the association Zjednoczenie (Union), which promoted Polish-Jewish culture and edited the weekly journal Jedność (Unity).3 Assimilation also simply continued to be a matter of fact; and for the official decennial population censuses, 95 percent of Galician Jews by 1910 stated Polish as their language of daily use, while German had shrunk to a mere 3 percent and Yiddish or Hebrew could not be statistically indicated (Ergebnisse der Volkszählung 1910, vol. 1, Heft 2, Tabellen, 54–55). However, the Jewish national movement, which came into play by the early twentieth century, favored exactly the latter two languages and proposed a national interpretation of Jewish identities (see in general, e.g., Gelber 1958; Shanes 2012). While these competing cultural and political identification models strongly affected the Jewish elite and their political positioning, they hardly reached the strata of the Hassidic and Yiddish-speaking masses. The only Jewish organization in Austrian Galicia that actually might be called a mass movement was the Orthodox Makhzikey ha-Das (Upholders of the Faith). Founded by the Belzer rebbe Yehoshua Rokeach and rabbi Shimon Sofer (also known as Simon Schreiber) from Cracow in 1878, it soon had more than 40,000 members. Sofer was successfully elected to the central parliament in 1879; he lobbied among Polish conservative circles at the central and provincial level in order to prevent a modernization of traditional Jewish education.4

Thus in the last decades of the nineteenth century, if with very different political agendas, Jews increasingly participated in the political life of Galicia. They tried to form new alliances with Gentile parties and activists in order to promote their vision of Galician Jewry. One of the arenas of activity were the representative bodies on the local, provincial, and central state level that gradually expanded to wider strata of the society.

Political Representation on the Local Level

Before 1848, neither Galicia nor Austria in general disposed of any elected representative institutions. Only on the local level, cities that were under municipal law (Ger. Stadtrecht) were allowed to elect a so-called municipal council (Ger. Stadtausschuss). This council was not very powerful and was rather an advisory board. Still, it had a certain symbolic importance and membership within the board was prestigious. In order to integrate the Jewish population in his enlightened state reform project, Joseph ii’s 1789 Edict of Toleration enfranchised all Jewish citizens along with their Gentile neighbors (Continuatio 1789, § 16: 92–93). The imperial decree of 1792 confirmed this idea; still, it linked the right to vote to formal local citizens (Ger. Stadtbürger). However, it was almost impossible for Jews to receive the legal status of a communal citizen; therefore, they were de facto neither allowed to vote for the board nor to be elected to it (Friedmann 1929: 121–122).

In Galicia, there were only very few cities where we can find isolated Jewish burghers who actually were allowed to vote—e.g., in Ivano-Frankivs’k (formerly Ukr. Stanyslaviv, Pol. Stanisławów, Ger. Stanislau, Yid. Stanislav), Przemyśl (Ukr. Peremyšl, Yid. Pshemishl), Berežany (Pol. Brzeżany, Yid. Brezshan), and Ternopil’ (Friedmann 1929: 125). There was one remarkable exception to this rule. Starting in 1799, Jews in Brody were not only enfranchised, they even accounted for half of the 40 board members. Brody belonged to those Galician private towns that were under municipal law. A private town was a settlement that was owned by a nobleman, who was the proprietor of the entire municipal territory (but not necessarily of the houses built on it) and received all tax incomes. Most of these private towns and hamlets did not have legal city status, but in those that enjoyed this privileged status, hardly any dweller was formally a communal citizen. In order to still elect a municipal council, all those Christian and Jewish inhabitants of Brody were enfranchised who in principle would have fulfilled the requirements to have communal citizenship. These prerequisites were to either possess a house in the city or to be a master craftsman; it goes without saying that this already excluded the vast majority of Brody’s population. This solution was unique in the Habsburg Empire, but very much suited Brody’s ethno-confessional and social circumstances. Not only did Jews account for almost 80 percent of the total population, the Jewish mercantile elite was key in this most important Galician trading hub. The fact that Jewish and Christian council members concordantly defended this arrangement when the Galician provincial administration questioned its lawfulness in the 1820s proves that interreligious cooperation on the local level was possible (apkw, Teki Schneidera 199 and 189). Many other Galician cities had an absolute or relative Jewish majority throughout the nineteenth century. Still, nowhere was the Jewish bourgeoisie as dominant and as well integrated as in Brody. This is also true for later communal regulations.

The Revolution of 1848 brought a significant change with regard to local political participation of Jews. Liberal Jews entered the Polish national guard claiming equal rights and autonomy for Galicia, and were part of delegations to the emperor that were set up in L’viv, Cracow, Tarnów (Yid. Torne), and Przemyśl. In Cracow, immediately 10 Jewish representatives from the Jewish suburb of Kazimierz were added to the city council consisting of 30 Gentile deputies; and in L’viv, the city council allowed 15 Jewish delegates among the 100 representatives of the city. Some of the councilors even became members of the municipal government and administration, where they could actively articulate Jewish concerns (Friedmann 1929: 126). Interestingly, this development occurred without a legal basis, because the 1792 law linking enfranchisement with formal local citizenship status was never abrogated, and the municipal administrations in most cities continued to refuse to grant this legal status to Jews. Only the general 1849 Austrian law would have provided a new regulation for communal elections and representation, but it was never enacted in Galicia. Still, during the neo-absolutist period of the 1850s and the early constitutional era in beginning of the 1860s, wealthy Jewish burghers, apparently, were allowed to participate in communal elections in the major Galician cities, albeit they could not become mayors or deputy mayors—except for in Brody, which had a Jewish deputy mayor (Friedmann 1929: 123–125, 174, 178).

Finally, the year 1866 brought important legal regulations to organize Gentile-Jewish relations on the municipal level. There were two models discussed. The city statutes put forward in L’viv would have split voters into a Christian and a Jewish electoral body that would have been allocated 80 and 20 seats, respectively, in the city council. Furthermore, it proclaimed all municipal property issues to be Christian unless they were explicitly Jewish. The Cracow model, on the other hand, enfranchised all Cracovians who belonged to the economic and social elite—thereby explicitly including priests and rabbis. It furthermore integrated Jewish deputies into all general municipal affairs; only for explicitly Jewish matters, a separate Jewish committee was created within the city council. Even if in both models Jews were not allowed to serve as mayors or even deputy mayors, the Cracow model matched the liberal Zeitgeist better and was finally approved by the emperor, whereas the L’viv statutes were rejected (Weidenfeld 1936: 165–169).

The general Galician municipality law ratified in the same year therefore rather echoes the spirit of the Cracow model, enfranchising urban inhabitants not according to their religious denomination but socioeconomic circumstances. However, it limited the number of Jewish deputies to one-third of the city council and disallowed Jewish mayors and deputy mayors. Here again, representatives from Brody successfully argued that Jews should be allowed to delegate up to 50 percent of all city councilors—to which the Galician Diet unanimously agreed in early 1867 (Galizisches lgbl. 1866, Nr. 19, section ii, §§ 15, 35: 95, 101; Galizisches lgbl. 1867, Nr. 8: 12).

The municipality law of 1866 in parts became obsolete already one year later when in December 1867 the Austrian part of the now Dual Monarchy fully emancipated its Jewish citizens. The earlier foreseen limiting quotas for Jews were outlawed; only economic, thus social, criteria would furthermore decide who was admitted to political participation. Some Jewish liberals rightly bemoaned that abolishing fixed quota for Jewish representatives might lead to a reduction of Jewish councilors as the elections did not follow the proportional but the majoritarian principle and therefore favored Gentile candidates. In general however Galicia’s tax-based electoral system for municipal councils disadvantaged Ruthenians far more than Jews and led to a dramatic overrepresentation of Roman Catholics (mostly Polish-speaking) and especially Protestants (mostly German-speaking) (Pilat 1875: 19–27; Weidenfeld 1936: 177–178).

Contrary to the spirit of Austria’s liberal constitution of 1867, legal discrimination against Jews continued to exist in one important case and, astonishingly, was never brought before the Austrian Supreme Court. The statutes of L’viv, enacted in 1870 and in force until the First World War, reserved a minimum of 80 percent of the seats in the city council for Christians; and in the hypothetical case that a Jew would have been elected mayor, the deputy mayor automatically would have to be a Christian (Hein-Kircher 2011: 248). In L’viv, Jews were particularly badly represented and never even came close to the 20 percent that the statutes theoretically allocated to them. In 1874, for example, they accounted for 28 percent of the inhabitants but held only 5 percent of all mandates. Greek Catholics, who roughly could be equated with the Ruthenians, held 8 percent of the seats compared to a share of 16 percent among the urban population (Sroka 2012: 289–304). After all, L’viv was an especially complex terrain. It was not only Galicia’s capital but also a battleground in the Polish-Ruthenian national conflict and therefore an important symbol for the Polish political, economic, and cultural establishment. Certainly, large parts of the Jewish community were acculturated or at least professed a pro-Polish orientation; still, when it came to real municipal power, Catholic Poles did not want to cede their dominant position.

Nevertheless, Jews or Poles of the Mosaic faith (as they were called) eventually were able to gain important positions in L’viv’s city administration. In 1909, Tobiasz Aszkenaze (1863–1920) was for the first time elected deputy mayor, and was later followed in this office by Leonard Stahl (1866–1929) and Filip Schleicher (1870–1932). In Cracow, the first Jewish deputy mayor was Józef Sare who held this office from 1905 until his death in 1929. Similarly successful was the advocate Wilhelm Hochfeld (1864–1932), who was Rzeszów’s deputy mayor for most of his life after 1905 (Wierzbieniec 2011: 257, 268; Kozińska-Witt 2013: 113–118). In general, Jews gained more representative power in most Galician towns during the decades until 1914. In 1907, 28 city councils had a majority of Jewish representatives and in 24 of them there even was a Jewish mayor (Kasznica 1907: 14–21; Weidenfeld 1936: 177–178). This largely corresponded with the expansion of Jewish representation on all levels that was a consequence of the slow but steady democratization processes in the Habsburg Empire—most obviously of course on the central state level.

Political Representation on the Central State Level

For centuries, the Habsburg Monarchy was perceived and perceived itself as a composite monarchy of historical provinces that were held together mainly in the person of the emperor, who simultaneously was the sovereign of these so-called Hereditary Lands. The enlightened rulers of the eighteenth century created a central bureaucracy in order to fashion these federal subjects into a modern state. Being absolutist monarchs, however, they did not intend to create central representative institutions.

The Revolution of 1848 led, for the first time, to the creation of such a central representative body. The holding of general elections was, in a way, already a success of the centripetal liberal forces that competed against centrifugal national claims. The newly elected Reichstag, originally in Vienna, later in the Moravian city of Kroměříž (Ger. Kremsier), consisted of 383 members from all non-Hungarian and non-Italian parts of the Empire. Among the 108 Galician deputies, only the cities of Brody, Ternopil’, and Ivano-Frankivs'k voted for Jewish representatives. While the latter two elected local pro-Polish candidates, Brody underlined its pro-German and centralist attitude by nominating the famous progressive Viennese rabbi Isaak Noah Mannheimer (Friedman 1929: 65–67, 72–77).

The key concerns of the Jewish deputies were the free practice of religion, the elimination of any property restrictions, and the abolition of the Jewish extra taxes. Owing to the liberal atmosphere of the time and a stirring speech of Mannheimer, the Reichstag indeed abolished all extra taxes in October 1848. However, before the parliament could vote for the full legal emancipation of Austria’s Jews, the emperor dissolved the assembly. The imperially imposed constitution of 1849 essentially continued to accept the notion of equality of all citizens. After even this constitution was suspended at the end of 1851, the neo-absolutist governments turned back to many legal practices of the period before the revolution. Still, they did not reintroduce the Jewish extra taxes (Eisenbach 1980: 75–92; Weidenfeld 1936: 135–144).

After a disastrous military campaign against Piedmont-Sardinia in 1859 and a tenuous budgetary position, Emperor Francis Joseph had to accommodate demands for political participation of the rising Austrian bourgeoisie. The return to constitutionalism began in 1860, but it was only in 1861 that the parliamentary assembly, the so-called Imperial Council (Ger. Reichsrat, Cz. Říšská rada, Pol. Rada Państwa, Ukr. Rajchsrat, Slo. Državni zbor, It. Consiglio Imperiale, Rom. Consiliul Imperial, Serb.-Cro. Carevinsko Vijeće) in Vienna, opened its doors for 343 parliamentarians. After the final loss of the Italian provinces in 1866 and the Compromise with Hungary in 1867, the Imperial Council consisted of 203 representatives. Among the 38 Galician representatives there were no Jews; it was only in 1868 when Maximilian Landsberger from Kolomyja (Pol. Kołomyja, Ger. Kolomea, Yid. Kolomay) became the first Galician-Jewish representative in Vienna (Friedman 1929: 163). Until 1873, the provincial diets nominated the deputies to the central parliament. This reflects the rather confederal perception of the central assembly during the earlier years, which also gave exceeding power to members of the Polish nobility and bourgeois upper classes who dominated the Galician Diet. Therefore, speaking in ethno-confessional terms, not only Jews but also Ruthenians were heavily underrepresented in the central parliament; and, speaking in social terms, peasants, workers, and craftsmen hardly made it to Vienna, not to mention women of course. Finally, Galicia in total was underrepresented as well. Accounting for around 28 percent of the population of the Austrian half of the Monarchy, deputies from Galicia made up only approximately 18 percent of all Imperial Council members, with a slight increase to 20 percent after the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1907 (Binder 2005: 186).

The first direct elections held in 1873 gave way to the emergence of a specifically Jewish political mobilization. Not only did Jewish candidates present themselves in overwhelmingly Jewish voting districts, but the earlier founded L’viv based Enlightenment society Shomer Israel (Guardian of Israel) started to act as a political platform. Its mostly Germanophile liberal Jews formed an electoral alliance with Ruthenian parties, and their three successful candidates later joined the Imperial Council’s liberal parliamentary club (Everett 1982: 157; Manekin 1999: 100–120). This electoral coalition, however, did not last, and in later decades Galician Jews elected to the Imperial Council joined the Polish parliamentary club—with the exception of the deputy elected in Brody’s chamber of commerce who until the mid-1880s stuck to the liberals (Kuzmany 2011a: 142). The Polish club assembled various political currents of the Polish-Galician establishment and became a key ally of most of the conservative Austrian governments after 1879 that also included Polish noblemen in key ministries. The club’s conservative standing was also the reason for the aforementioned Shimon Sofer and his Jewish orthodox Makhzikey ha-Das movement to join this parliamentary group in the Vienna Imperial Council. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the Polish Club always allowed a couple of Jewish candidates to run on their lists. Eventually, two to five acculturated and progressive Jews normally got their ticket to Vienna (Shanes 2012: 287–289).

With the rise of political mass mobilization, the call for universal suffrage increased. The first step to achieve this goal was reached in 1896 when the Austrian Prime Minister Kazimierz Badeni added a fifth curia to the electoral system that enfranchised even those citizens who did not fulfil the taxpaying requirements in the other four voting classes. The final breakthrough came after the 1905 revolution in Russia, when Emperor Francis Joseph agreed to the introduction of universal and equal male suffrage for the central parliament in the Austrian but not in the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy. In this respect, Austria ranges in the middle field of universal male suffrage development—far behind France (1848) or the German Empire (1871), but still before those many countries that introduced it only in or after 1918, like Great Britain, Italy, or Sweden (Bader-Zaar 2004: 22–27).

The first elections to the Imperial Council conducted under these auspices in 1907 tremendously altered the composition of the parliament with the Christian Social Party and the Social Democratic Party being now the largest political camps. Galicia delegated ten Jews to the Vienna Imperial Council. Now Jews accounted for a fair 10 percent of all 106 Galician deputies to the parliament, which largely reflected the Jewish share in the Crownland’s total population (Binder 2005: 608–613).

Universal suffrage not only enlarged but also diversified Jewish representation. Broadly speaking, we can identify three political camps in which Jews were involved. Among the first were politicians nominated by the Polish Central Election Committee (Pol. Centralny komitet wyborczy), a platform of conservative and moderate liberal parties that pre-selected potential candidates who would later join the Polish parliamentary group in Vienna. This camp addressed the wealthy and acculturated Jewish bourgeoisie on the one hand, and conservative Orthodox and Hassidic Jews on the other. In order to compete with rival Jewish candidates in constituencies predominantly inhabited by Jews, Jewish assimilationist politicians had called on the Central Election Committee to nominate more Jewish candidates. Their urge was partly successful when finally four Jews were elected on these lists (Everett 1982: 169; Binder 2005: 190–201).

We can observe a similar phenomenon among Galicia’s Social Democrats, the second important political camp with Jewish presence. In 1899, the Crownland’s Social Democrats had split into a Ukrainian branch (usdp) and a de facto Polish branch representing Polish workers from Galicia and Austrian Silesia (ppsd) (Jobst 1996: 84–105). Many Jewish party members were unhappy with the far too openly assimilationist and anti-Yiddish stance of the ppsd. Still, only a small group broke away in 1905 and formed a separate organization. However, this Jewish Social Democratic Party (ŻPSD) was not officially recognized by the central Austrian Social Democratic Gesamtpartei, and the two leading Jewish functionaries, Herman Diamand and Herman Lieberman, stayed within the structure of the ppsd. The Polish party allowed them to run in constituencies where a social-democratic candidate had good chances to succeed. Actually, both were elected in 1907 and reelected in 1911 in L’viv and Przemyśl, respectively (Bross 1950: 82–84; Śliwa 1996: 19–22). With the silent support of the Social Democrats, the independent Jewish candidate Adolf Gross won Cracow’s Kazimierz voting district in both elections.

Last but not least, Zionists successfully nominated Jewish candidates, at least in the 1907 elections. The election campaign was very tumultuous, including assimilationist denunciations of illegal Zionist activities and police raids against Zionist hustings. Eventually, candidates of the Jewish National Party (jnp) were successful in three cities—in Brody, Pidhajci (Pol. Podhajce, Yid. Pidhayits), and in Čortkiv (Pol. Czortków, Yid. Tshortkev) (Shanes 2012: 223–243). Together with one deputy from Bukovina, they for the first and only time fulfilled the necessary quorum to officially establish a Jewish parliamentary club in the Vienna Imperial Council. The Zionists owed their success to an alliance with other “underdog parties.” The jnp, the Social Democrats, and the Ruthenian National Democrats agreed to support each other in those cases where one of their candidates would make it into the second round of the general elections, which was the case if no candidate won an absolute majority in the first round. This electoral coalition was risky because it tied together two electorates that viewed each other with suspicion. Galicia’s Zionists, in particular, who despite their national Jewish identity felt closer affinity to Polish language and culture, were very wary of the Jewish public opinion concerning a cooperation agreement with the Ruthenians, who were perceived as the alleged eternal anti-Semites (Everett 1982: 169f, 174–177). Eventually, this alliance did not last, and in the next general elections in 1911, none of the three Galician Zionists were reelected. Even though the Jewish National Party did not lose votes numerically, it lost its seats to Jewish assimilationist candidates of the Polish election committee, which had understood that it had to nominate attractive candidates in predominantly Jewish constituencies. Subsequently, the last legislative period of the Austrian parliament again comprised ten Jewish representatives from Galicia (Binder 2005: 610–613).

The introduction of universal and equal male suffrage for the central parliament thus not only increased the chances of Jewish candidates, it also widened the political spectrum of what Jewry meant or should mean to Jews. Arguably, the diversification of Jewish opinions had a much stronger democratizing impact than the sheer growth of Jewish representatives. It increased the political mobilization and participation of Jews in Galicia in general even though on the provincial level equal suffrage was never introduced.

Political Representation on the Crownland Level

The revolution of 1848 increased political activity among Galicia’s Jews that oscillated in different directions. Uncontested among all strata of the Jewish population was the call for the abolition of the specific Jewish taxes and the free practice of religion. Disagreement existed, however, regarding the question of how far Jews should strive for full legal emancipation as Austrian citizens, for the national autonomy claims of their Polish fellow Galicians, or for less state interference into the kahal. The position retained depended very much on the activists’ point of view in the conflict between supporters of the Haskalah (Maskilim) and those of Orthodox and Hassidic Judaism. Orthodox rabbis tried to regain a hold in the internal representative bodies of the Jewish communities that for decades were dominated by the Jewish upper class and staunch Maskilim. This conflict eventually reached its peak when the progressive chief rabbi of L’viv was poisoned in September 1848 (Grill 2008: 179–220). However, even the enlightened Jewish intelligentsia disagreed on whether to concentrate their forces on Austria’s central institutions or on Galicia’s revolutionary movement, even though the majority considered it important to solidarize with the Polish national movement. In some major cities, liberal Jews even joined the Polish National Guards (Friedmann 1929: 55–63).

This ambiguity between central and provincial claims marks the general development of the revolution in Galicia. The Galician Diet convoked by the Emperor and elected in April 1848 would have seen among its ranks four Jewish deputies as well as the chief rabbi of L’viv as an honorary member. However, this parliament never convened because the elected Polish deputies challenged its legitimacy and created a National Council (Pol. Rada Narodowa) instead. Besides its national rhetoric, this council also pledged the emancipation of the Jews. Three of the earlier elected Jewish deputies therefore joined the Rada Narodowa. Owing to his centralist and thus pro-German orientation, only Brody’s representative objected to participating in this Polish national assembly. The Ruthenian equivalent, the Supreme Ruthenian Council (Ukr. Holovna Rus’ka Rada), established in May 1848, on the other hand never attracted any Jews. Eventually, by the beginning of the following year, the revolution together with any form of representation was brought to an end when the young emperor Francis Joseph restored his absolute authority (Friedman 1929: 55–56; Bałaban 1988: 146; Kuzmany 2011a: 139).

During the following period of neo-absolutism, the only supra-local, albeit not very powerful institution allowing some sort of political participation, were the three chambers of commerce installed in 1850 in Cracow, L’viv, and Brody. As all chamber members irrespective of their religious denomination were enfranchised, the Jewish economic elite also could advance their interests (Kargol 2003: 62–66; Friedman 1929: 121). When Austria returned to constitutionalism in 1860/61, these chambers of commerce became one of the four electoral bodies (curiae) in the newly introduced Galician Diet, the so-called Sejm; they sent one deputy each to the 150-member provincial parliament. Unlike during the later decades, in the earlier years the chambers of commerce did not delegate Jews but Gentile liberals, but who would of course also back the interests of the Jewish bourgeoisie. In the very first legislative period of the Sejm, there were four Jewish representatives, elected in Cracow, L’viv, Brody, and Kolomyja (Friedman 1929: 162–163). The other curiae of the diet were the great landlords (44 mandates), the larger cities (23 mandates, later increased to 26, and in 1900 to 31 mandates), and finally the rural communities (74 deputies). In addition, there were 9 (later 12) honorary seats reserved for the Catholic clergy and university rectors; neither L’viv’s nor Cracow’s chief rabbi held one of these ex officio seats (Grodziski 2000: 2134–2138).

Besides the chambers of commerce, Jews had only a chance to be elected in the curia of the larger cities. Thus, only wealthy and acculturated pro-Polish Jews were represented in the Galician Diet, ignoring the Jewish working class and the rather small but growing Jewish national or Zionist groups. Yet even the Jewish bourgeoisie was not very well represented. Also in the later legislative periods until 1914, Jews never gained more than a maximum of 6 representatives out of the 164 members of the provincial parliament (Grodziski 1993: see list of names in vol. 2).

The sphere of influence of Austria’s provincial assemblies was rather limited in comparison to the central parliament. Its competences embraced agricultural, cultural, welfare, and most importantly schooling issues. Even though there was never any constitutional regulation granting Galicia a specific form of self-rule in comparison to other provinces, the Crownland’s Polish elites were able to gain a maximum of de facto autonomy during the decades that followed the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867 (Binder 2006: 239–265). Their dominant position in the provincial administration and diet was increasingly contested by the Ruthenian national movement. The last but central section of this paper deals more specifically with the search for a national compromise between Polish and Ruthenian politicians and the place assigned to Galician Jews in this process. If not in the center of attention, the provisions of the franchise reform in 1914 did affect the province’s Jewish population.

The Galician Compromise in 1914 and New Modes of Jewish Representation on the Crownland Level

When Austria introduced universal and equal male suffrage for the central parliament in 1907, several political representatives argued that Galicia also needed to revise its electoral law in order to widen its electorate and to soften social and national tensions. The driving forces behind these suggestions were the (Polish) peasant parties and all Ruthenian parties. Galicia’s social democrats also endorsed these ideas; as they, however, did not have a single representative in the diet, they were a very quiet voice on the provincial political theater. The national conflict reached a hitherto unknown peak in 1908 when a Ukrainophile student assassinated Galicia’s governor Andrzej Potocki. The new governor Michał Bobrzyński in principal agreed on the need for a new electoral system; still, the negotiations proved delicate. Unlike the universal enfranchisement for the Imperial Council, equal suffrage was out of reach in Galicia, as it was in any of the other Habsburg Crownlands (Urbanitsch 2006: 43–58).

When serious negotiations between the governor and the parties began in 1912, the crucial question turned out to be the percentage of seats that Ruthenians should be allowed to hold in the future provincial diet (Buszko 1956: 203–204). In March 1913, the compromise was finalized but unexpectedly failed to pass the provincial parliament because of the fierce opposition from the Polish nationalist National Democratic Party, the east Galician conservative nobility, and last but not least the Roman Catholic clergy. Bobrzyński had to resign, and the new governor Witold Korytowski had to deal with a Galician Diet where the opposition to the compromise had increased after the anticipated elections in the fall of 1913. Thanks to Korytowski’s less confrontational negotiating strategy and the ever increasing pressure from the Austrian central government that urged national peace in Galicia in the light of rapidly deteriorating relations with neighboring Russia, the eventually found compromise in early 1914 actually strongly resembled the draft from 1913, and changes were rather cosmetic or symbolic (Kuzmany 2013: 136–137).

Besides a promised Ukrainian university to be opened in L’viv, this so-called Galician Compromise mainly introduced a new provincial constitution regulating the composition of the provincial parliament and government as well as a new electoral law. Despite the approval of the Galician Diet in February 1914, these legal provisions were never implemented due to the outbreak of the First World War just several months later. In the end, Ruthenians would have received slightly more than 27 percent of all seats in the diet and a quarter within the government. This was better than before, but far from the Ruthenian 42 percent share in Galicia’s total population. The new electoral law brought two important changes to the hitherto existing one: it introduced universal but not equal male suffrage, and it allotted national registers for Poles and Ruthenians but not for Jews. Hence, in order to vote, all Galician men were enlisted according to two categories, a social and a national one (Kuzmany 2013: 123–141).

The Galician Compromise of 1914 was not the first provincial constitution that divided its population and electorate not only according to their social status but also according to their national affiliation. It followed the model of the 1905 Moravian Compromise between Czech and German politicians, and the 1909 Bukovinian Compromise between Ruthenian, Romanian, German, Jewish, and Polish politicians. Similar if rather based on confessional affiliation, the 1910 provincial constitution of Habsburg Bosnia-Herzegovina might also have served as a model (Kuzmany 2016). The basic idea behind introducing ethnonational voting registers and assigning them fixed numbers of national representatives was to appease national conflict without separating people or territories. The supporters of such a system hoped that if each nationality gains an earlier agreed upon number of seats in the provincial parliament, the election campaign would concentrate on political and not on national issues. Indeed, this form of non-territorial but national-personal autonomy suits regions with hazy ethnonational borders; and negotiations in other provinces prove that this idea was strongly considered in the Habsburg Empire during the last decade before the First World War (Brix 1982a: 225–248; King 2002; Seibt 1987; Waldstein-Wartenberg 1959: 65–81).

This national-personal representation model, however, raised a difficult practical issue, namely, how to attribute a certain person to a certain national register. Politicians and scholars widely discussed who in case of conflict would decide who belongs in which category (see, e.g., Renner 1902; Bernatzik 1910). In Galicia, the local authorities had to compile these lists based on people’s language of daily use as indicated in the previous census. Upon publication of these lists, individuals had the right to object and to demand a transfer of their name to the other national register. Whereas in the census, people could indicate any of the nine recognized languages of the Austrian part of the Empire, Galicia’s 1914 electoral law provided only for two normative options, a Polish and a Ruthenian register (Dziennik ustaw dla Galicyi, 1914, Nr. 65, Ordinacya wyborcza, Art. 1, § 8 and Art. 2, §§ 19–21: 181, 186–189).

Provisions of the New Electoral Law and Jewish Representation

Besides 13 honorary ex officio seats, the law designed six income-based voting bodies to elect the other 215 deputies. In four of these six electoral curiae, national rolls would also come into play, whereas two curiae were nationally non-aligned. Hence, the local authorities had to compile a total of ten different voting lists, of which eight according to national affiliation. According to the number of representatives each list was allowed to designate, Galicia was subdivided into ten different layers of constituencies. The law, thereby, inconsistently speaks sometimes of Polish and Ruthenian electoral districts and sometimes of general (Ger. allgemein, Pol. ogólni) and segregated (Ger. ausgeschieden, Pol. wyłąnczone) constituencies. There was good reason for the latter naming because members of Galicia’s smaller ethno-confessional minorities like Armenians, Germans, and especially Jews were automatically comprised in the general “Polish” cadaster, unless they demanded in a written statement to be transferred to the Ruthenian one. This regulation very much mirrors the Polish elites’ perception of Galicia: from their point of view, this was not a multiethnic Crownland consisting of equal nationalities, but a province that was in general and foremost Polish, where a certain Ruthenian minority would receive a certain number of segregated electoral districts.

The set-up of the Galician Diet resulting from the new suffrage law would, therefore, have been as follows:

tab1

Even though the law does not mention Jews directly, some of the provisions clearly aimed at granting them a certain form of parliamentary representation within the “Polish” register, at least for the Jewish upper class. Whereas Jews made up around 11 percent of Galicia’s total population, they numbered almost 20 percent of all voters in the Polish register. The Jewish electorate was, thus, a quite significant quantity. Larger numbers of Jewish voters were to be found in particular in the two urban curiae (ii and iii), as well as in the small nationally non-aligned curia of the chambers of commerce (iv). The latter electoral class was a corporative curia of important businessmen and wholesale traders that had been already a Jewish stronghold in earlier election periods (Grodziski 1993: see list of names in vol. 2). According to the law, Brody’s chamber should elect one representative and the chambers in L’viv and Cracow two each. Whereas the Brody chamber would almost certainly elect a Jewish representative, the two others would most likely elect at least one Jew each, not least because Jews counted for around 70 percent of all chamber members (Gąsowski 1997: 48). So, the Jewish economic elite would presumably gain three of the five deputies allotted to the fourth curia.

In the second curia for the wealthy urban citizens, the setup of the constituencies would allow an almost certain Jewish representative in Brody, Tarnów, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Ternopil’, and Drohobyč (Pol. Drohobycz, Yid. Drobitsh) (Starzyński 1918: 423). Brody had always been a city predominantly inhabited by Jews and a Jewish candidate was a logical requirement. Each of the four other cities elected two deputies. Tarnów was divided into two territorial constituencies, of which the eastern one covered the Jewish districts with Jews numbering 75 percent of the voters (Welt, 27.2.1914: 217). In the other three cities the law did not design such a territorial split-up; seemingly, wealthy Jews and Poles lived too intermingled with each other such that separate territorial constituencies would not have worked out. Therefore, the legislator introduced a rudimentary proportional voting system for these voting districts by introducing a two-mandate structure with a majority and a minority mandate. This meant that each voter in the second curia of these three cities casted one vote, and the candidates who ran first and second would receive a seat in the diet. This system was first introduced in the Galician electoral law for the general elections for the Imperial Council in Vienna in 1907, when Galicia’s dominant Polish elite pushed through a two-mandate system for the rural constituencies in order to protect the Polish minority in the countryside6 (Binder 1996: 308–314). Even more similar was the case in Bukovina, where the election regulation for the German curia allotted in some cases two-mandate constituencies in order to produce a Christian-German as well as a Jewish-German representative (Leslie 1991: 128–129).

In four other cities of the second curia, Jews had realistic chances to elect a Jewish candidate thanks to their demographic strength among the voters. A Jewish candidate might have won one of the eight mandates in L’viv, one of six in Cracow, and one of two in Kolomyja and Przemyśl. Each of these four cities formed one single constituency, where the first eight, six, and respectively two candidates would make it to the provincial parliament. In contrast to the above-mentioned cities, each voter would not tick only one name on his ballot but eight, six, and two names. This might have led to a larger differentiation of political opinions, because larger parties would have allowed a wider variety of candidates in order to convince more voters to cast their vote en bloc for all nominated party candidates. So, a Jewish candidate might have been elected as well, especially if they were running on a Polish list. In earlier election periods, the conservative Stańczyk Party and the moderately liberal Polish Democrats sometimes nominated acculturated Jews for constituencies where the Jewish vote could be a decisive factor. According to the well-informed daily newspaper Neue Freie Presse, all members of the Polish parliamentary club had informally agreed that indeed one Jewish candidate should run on the lists in L’viv and Cracow (nfp, 15.11.1913: 6).

Many Jewish voters were also to be found in the third curia. This was the electoral class for all those urban voters who did not pay enough taxes to be classified in the above mentioned second curia, whereas those of the second curia had the right to cast another vote in this class. Still, for this huge group, the electoral system provided only nine mandates in the general “Polish” section and three in the Ruthenian section of the curia. Hence, except for L’viv and Cracow, the voters of many different cities would have been grouped together into one constituency. In none of them would Jews have had an absolute majority; their strongest share was in the Stryj constituency, the second Cracow constituency, which included the Jewish quarter Kazimierz, and the second L’viv constituency comprising the Jewish Halyc’kyj-District. The best chances might have had a Jewish candidate on a social democrat ticket. Still, this would have been rather unlikely since as we have seen earlier the Jewish social democrats were fragmented among themselves after several activists had formed an independent and rival Jewish Social Democratic Party (żpsd) in 1905, which only partly reunited with the Polish social democrats in 1911 (Jobst 1996: 134; Bross 1950: 82–84).

To sum up these calculations, Jews certainly would have won at least three representatives elected via the chambers of commerce (curia iv); five almost certain deputies in Tarnów, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Ternopil’, Drohobyč, and Brody, and most likely four more representatives in L’viv, Cracow, Kolomyja, and Przemyśl (curia ii); and maybe some more in the curia of general urban dwellers (iii). It is difficult to say for certain whether Jewish candidates eventually would really have gained these twelve seats or even more; however, the estimations of the left-wing Zionist activist Berl Locker and many other Jewish nationalists that Jews would win only eight deputies seem too pessimistic (Freistatt, 30.4.1914: 1–8). Compared to the earlier electoral regulation where Jews never gained more than 4 percent of all seats, the electoral reform of 1914 would have given them roughly a 5 percent share in the Galician Diet. Accordingly, Galicia’s approximately 10 percent Jewish population continued to be heavily underrepresented.

A Jewish Point of View?

The Jewish position towards the Galician Compromise in general and the absence of a separate Jewish national cadaster in particular is difficult to assess because there was hardly one coherent Jewish opinion. Maybe the only thing all sides agreed on was that more Jews should sit in the Galician Diet; but already who could be considered a Jewish representative was contested, not to speak of the strategies to reach the goal of better representation. Debates were heated, libelous, and reflected the general abyss between Jewish-national and assimilationist partisans, be they conservative, liberal, or left wing. Assimilationists fought for their conviction of being Poles of Mosaic faith aiming at further integration into Polish society, while Jewish nationalists campaigned for the recognition of a Jewish nationality with its own national languages of Yiddish and Hebrew. Neither camp was a monolithic block either. There were liberal and left-wing Jewish nationalists, some more inclined towards Palestine, some more towards Gegenwartsarbeit (Work in the present). They could even be anti-Zionist like the social-democrat żpsd. The majority of Jewish social democrats, however, rather backed assimilation in concert with the Polish Social Democratic Party (ppsd). Especially wealthier and well-integrated urban Jews often joined the ranks of the Polish Democrats, a moderately liberal and patriotic party. One of them was Natan Löwenstein, who actually was the only Jewish member of the parliamentary committee preparing and negotiating the reform of the Galician electoral law over the course of several years.

The various political opinions were articulated in plenty of articles in daily or weekly newspapers, rallies, but also in parliamentary interpellations. These discussions were not limited to Galicia itself but comprised the entire empire and its multifaceted public sphere. Galician Jews were especially interested in the political developments in Bukovina. Not only because this neighboring Crownland had a similarly sizeable Jewish population, but also because of the Bukovinian Compromise found in 1909. There, all negotiating parties drafted an electoral reform that would have provided for a separate Jewish electoral register in addition to a Ruthenian, Romanian, German, and Polish one (Leslie 1991: 124–126). However, the Austrian ministry of internal affairs, applauded by the Austrian acculturated Jewish public (Oesterreichische Wochenschrift, 15.10.1909: 714–715; nfp, 26.9.1909: 2), intervened and claimed such a regulation to be in contradiction with the Austrian constitution, which regarded Jews as a religious but not as a national minority (aic, Mapa 109, Fasc. 4).

Hence, even though all political groups in Bukovina would have accepted Jews as an independent nationality, they had to find a solution that would be in accordance with Austrian law. The result was a complicated system. Jews and Germans eventually formed a joint national roll in the approved 1909 electoral law. However, to ensure a fair representation among both groups, the negotiating parties divided the constituencies assigned to the German register in de facto German-Jewish and de facto German-Christian voting districts. In rural constituencies, a territorial delineation between these two groups was largely possible; however, in urban districts, this would not have worked out. As discussed above, they drew the urban constituencies larger and allowed two “German” delegates to be elected in one constituency; and those two candidates who placed first and second would get a seat in the provincial diet (Stourzh 1995: 47–51; Rachamimov 1996: 7–12).

Whereas Galician Zionists hailed these unofficial Jewish constituencies as a de facto Jewish national register and thereby as an indirect recognition of a Jewish nationality, the Yiddish Sotsyaldemokrat more soberly explained that an almost Jewish register still is no Jewish register (cited after Jedność, 10.8.1909: 4). Bourgeois assimilationists even more strongly underlined that in the Bukovinian case Jews in no way received neither the status of a separate nation, nor separate national rights, nor separate representatives (Jedność, 20.7.1909: 3–4). The latter allegation was actually not correct, because the complicated delineation of the German constituencies intended indeed to produce separate deputies; and separate national rights were not granted to any of Bukovina’s nationalities, because overall, all these national compromises in Austria were integrative endeavors trying to avoid different laws for different people. Furthermore, in a way, the Bukovinian provincial parliament did recognize Jews as a nationality. Right after having passed the new provincial constitution according to the requirements from the central government in October 1909, the assembly passed a protest statement declaring that it considers Jews a “separate national individuality and a distinct nationality wherefore they are entitled to a separate national curia” (Leslie 1991: 131). Zionists thus rightly could perceive the Bukovinian case if not as a legal, but still as a political, precedent for Galicia.

In a certain regard, this also applies to the new provincial constitution in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with an electoral system based on confessional curiae for Orthodox, Catholics, Muslims, and Jews (Bosnisches lgbl. 1910: Nr. 19, Landesstatut § 22, Wahlordnung § 5). As Bosnia was legally a condominium of both parts of the Empire, the Austrian constitution proscribing the linkage of political rights to religious denomination did not apply. However, one could also interpret these four distinguished groups as implicitly ethno-confessional, which Croat and Serbian nationalists willingly did. This vagueness certainly increased the general acceptance of this regulation (Imamović 2006: 244–250). Therefore, on the one hand Zionists could see in the Bosnian case an anticipation of the Jewish national registers they wished to create in Galicia; and on the other, assimilationists noticed it as a pure confessional regulation fit for the very specific Bosnian circumstances (Jedność, 19.11.1909: 1–2).

In general, Galicia’s assimilated Jews were not opposed to national rolls in Galicia to reduce national conflicts as long as Jews were certainly included into the Polish register (Jedność, 1.10.1909: 2; Jedność, 11.11.1910: 1–3). Adding to this, there was no realistic discussion about this option during the actual negotiations because there was a large consensus among the Polish parties that Jews should not constitute a separate unit. The negotiating Ruthenian national parties, which in general were more favorable to Jewish national claims, tacitly accepted this view and considered the Jews an “internal affair” of the Poles (Welt, 13.2.1914: 161). Only the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party continued to support a Jewish cadaster but their political weight was very low, and they were never accepted as one of the negotiating parties like, actually, any social democrats from Galicia. Zionists repeatedly complained about the treason of the Ruthenian national parties that in earlier elections had been their ally (Welt, 30.8.1912: 1066–1068; Welt, 28.2.1913: 265–267), even though eleven Ruthenian members of the Imperial Council had signed a parliamentary interpellation initiated by the independent Heinrich Reizes in April 1912. They jointly protested against the ignorance towards Jewish interests within the Galician electoral reform project (Reizes 1912, Stenographische Protokolle: Anhänge 8883).

A more realistic option was to negotiate the number of the Jewish representatives for the 166 deputies to be elected from the Polish cadaster discussed in the section above. Jewish-national politicians and newspapers claimed up to 30 Jewish mandataries according to their number and tax contribution and accused assimilationists of not fighting resolutely enough for Jewish interests. Thereby it was clear that they counted as true Jewish representatives only those who recognized Jews as a nationality; consequently, for them a Jewish constituency was not a constituency where a Jew might be elected but where a Zionist could be elected (Welt, 21.11.1913: 1598; Jüdische Volksstimme, 19.2.1914: 1–2). The person Jewish nationalists attacked most harshly in their newspapers and political rallies was the electoral reform committee member Natan Löwenstein, whom they even denied being a Jew. Löwenstein was certainly among the most radical assimilationists and was extremely hesitant towards more or less explicit Jewish constituencies. He and also others argued that this would be some sort of a modern electoral ghetto that could lead Jews back into a political and economic ghetto (nfp, 17.11.1913: 2–3).

Both sides brought up arguments in line with their conviction of either being Poles of Mosaic faith or national Jews; however, it actually was also party politics and political strategy that drove their arguments. As mixed constituencies in general foster moderate candidates, moderate parties like the liberal Polish Democrats, of which Löwenstein was a member, but also the conservative Stańczyks, favored them. On the other hand, Jewish but also Polish nationalists from the National Democratic Party advocated nationally homogenous constituencies in order not to rely on at least some votes from the other ethnic group. Some even proposed to further increase the proportional vote in general, not only in order to assure a Jewish and a Christian mandatary in the aforementioned two-seat constituencies but also in order to diversify the party spectrum more generally (Welt, 2.5.1913: 561; nfp, 19.11.1914: 6).

As a matter of fact, due to the dominant current in Polish-Galician and Austrian politics, the assimilationists had the better cards. Zionists were not represented in the provincial diet and therefore neither in the parliamentary reform committee; and after their defeat in the 1911 general elections, there was no Jewish Club in the Imperial Council anymore that could exercise political pressure from the center as did, for example, the strong Ruthenian Club of the central Austrian parliament. Most inclined to Galician Jewish national demands in the Imperial Council was the Zionist Benno Straucher elected in Černivci (Ger. Czernowitz, Rom. Cernăuți, Pol. Czerniowce, Yid. Tshernovits) and the independent Heinrich Reizes, who in April 1912 and anew in November 1913 posted a parliamentary interpellation underlining Jewish national claims (Reizes 1912, Stenographische Protokolle: Anhänge 8883).

A minor Zionist success occurred in the very last days before the approval of the new provincial constitution when they mobilized protest rallies, telegrams, and a deputation consisting of six prominent Jewish political figures, excluding of course Löwenstein. This delegation complained among the Galician governor, the president of the Galician Diet, and the head of the parliamentary reform committee that the negotiators had added small villages to some mostly Jewish urban constituencies in order to make the Jewish majority less preponderant. Upon the motion of the governor, the parliamentary conciliation committee agreed on re-eliminating some of the villages (Welt, 13.2.1914: 161).

In the overall assessment, acculturated Jews in Galicia, in particular those belonging to the upper strata, could live pretty well with the results of the negotiations. They perceived it as what it was: a compromise between noble, bourgeois, and national interests, where no side would be entirely satisfied. In the decisive session on 14 February 1914, when the Galician Diet finally approved of the new provincial constitution, Natan Löwenstein delivered a vigorous speech. He ended with what he might have considered the most important achievement of this compromise vis-à-vis Zionist but also anti-Semitic claims, namely, an indisputable legal recognition that Jews are Poles:

The electoral regulation, which we shall enact, recognizes only two nationalities [a Polish and a Ruthenian one] and assigns the Jews to the Polish population. Entirely respecting the second people in this country and its national rights, we as Poles welcome with joy those regulations of the provincial constitution and the electoral law that, for the first time, incorporated the Jews into the Polish national body by means of legislation and constitution.

Sprawozdanie stenograficzne 1914: 226

Jewish nationalists, on the other hand, were deeply disappointed by the negotiations and its final compromise—a compromise, they would say, on the back of the Jews. They perceived all other sides as the winners, the Ruthenians in particular, because they now were able to elect their representatives within their separate national cadaster without any Polish interference. However, there were voices within the Jewish national camp that not only blamed Poles, Ruthenians, and assimilationists for the shortcomings of the new provincial constitution, but themselves. They severely criticized those Zionists who were mainly preoccupied with Palestine and thereby ignored the current needs of the Jewish population. They urged that Zionists should engage more in realpolitik in order to influence future compromises, which they all expected to be concluded eventually in other Crownlands (Jüdische Volksstimme, 19.2.1914: 1–2; 12.3.1914: 9–10).

Conclusions

Except for the local level, there were no institutions of political representation in Habsburg Galicia before the Revolution of 1848; and Jews did not even achieve adequate representation on the local level with the sole exception of the Brody municipal advisory board. Austria’s central parliament founded in 1848 and re-established in 1861 usually was comprised of a few Jewish deputies from Galicia. However, it was only after the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1907 that the number of Galician Jews in the Imperial Council more or less resembled the Jewish share in Galicia’s total population and also offered a greater variety of political views among Jews.

This paper concentrated on Jewish representation on the provincial level and, in particular, on the new electoral law for the Galician Diet that was enacted right before the outbreak of the First World War, which eventually aborted its implementation. Whereas between 1861 and 1914 a maximum of 4 percent of all members of the provincial parliament were Jews, the provisions of the Polish-Ruthenian compromise of 1914 would have slightly increased their share to approximately 5 percent. Unlike the universal and equal male suffrage for the central parliament, the provincial diet continued to be mainly a representative body for the corporate interests of the ruling economic and political classes. Consequently, the dominant Polish elites were ready to consider the interests of Galicia’s urban Jewish bourgeoisie to a certain extent as long as they were pro-Polish and non-socialist. This, actually, largely corresponded with the position of the province’s Jewish elites.

In two of six electoral classes, Jews had realistic chances to be elected: in the voting body of the members of Galicia’s three chambers of commerce and in the curia of wealthy urban dwellers. The latter curia was subdivided into two territorially overlapping layers of nationally defined constituencies: Ruthenian ones and so-called ‘general’ ones.

The fiercest discussions among Jewish political activists circulated around the question of a separate Jewish national cadaster, as well as around the usefulness and number of de facto Jewish constituencies. Very much to the discontent of Jewish national politicians, the Galician Compromise did not introduce a Jewish register, but allocated them to the “general” cadaster. The latter was actually de facto Polish but also included all other non-Ruthenians, for example Armenians and Germans. However, Zionists not only for ideological reasons strongly disapproved of the idea of a joint cadaster, but also for very practical ones. They understood that in this case their candidates would have a far harder chance of winning over a seat than acculturated Jews, who could also rely on some Polish votes.

The lower Jewish strata, be they religious or social democrat, were more concerned about the persistence of the curial voting system for the privileged economic elites than with being included into the Polish register. In strong disagreement with the Polish register were the Ukrainian social democrats and those who had split from the Polish Social Democratic Party (ppsd) in order to form the independent Jewish Social Democratic Party (żpsd). Both groups, however, were extremely weak currents within an already weak Galician workers’ movement. They either feared that a joint Polish-Jewish register would further strengthen the already dominating Polish bourgeoisie, or bemoaned that Jews would still be underrepresented in the future diet.

The province’s pro-Polish assimilationist Jewish elite clearly approved of a joint register that legally recognized them as Poles. Not only did they sympathize with Polish language and culture, but they also hoped that a joint register, where Jews would constitute almost 20 percent of the electorate, would produce rather moderate representatives and no Polish anti-Semites or Jewish nationalists. Besides the joint cadaster, also the general setup of the new electoral system in the provincial diet respected their political interests to a certain degree. In order to defend these interests, the Jewish upper classes sought to increase and assure their representation in the future provincial parliament. Besides three quasi-certain Jewish deputies from the province’s chambers of commerce, there was the option of creating de facto Jewish constituencies by means of delineating the voting districts in a way that a majority of the electorate would be Jewish—only hardcore assimilationists were to object to such an opportunity.

By the early twentieth century, however, it was already almost impossible to delineate Jewish constituencies territorially because the Jewish bourgeoisie had spread out of the traditional Jewish quarters. So, with the exception of the territorial voting districts for Brody and the eastern part of Tarnów, the law foresaw a partly proportional system to ensure the election of a Jewish deputy within the Polish curia of the wealthy urban dwellers in which Jewish candidates had the best chances to pass. The cities Ivano-Frankivs’k, Ternopil’, and Drohobyč counted as one constituency each, but the first two candidates would actually receive a seat in the Diet. Similar if more dependent on a joint list with Polish parties, a Jewish candidate had good chances to pass in L’viv, Cracow, Przemyśl, and Kolomyja.

This complicated system with various electoral mechanisms guaranteed a certain representation of the Jewish urban elites and generally corresponds with the intention of the electoral law of the 1914 compromise. It was meant to reproduce the interests of social and national groups rather than those of municipalities, districts, or regions as a whole. Therefore, it depended very much on the social standing and national feelings of Jews whether they appreciated the deal or not. Jewish issues, in general, were a minor concern in the negotiations between Polish and Ruthenian politicians even though their point of view might have differed considerably. For the Jewish camp, we have to state that the radically divergent opinions of Poles of Mosaic faith on the one side of the spectrum, and Zionists on the other, does not allow one to speak of a specific Jewish attitude towards the Galician Compromise.

This article was written with the support of the Erwin Schrödinger Scholarship of the Austrian Science Fund (fwf; j 3447-g16).

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  • Continuatio 1789. Continuatio edictorum et mandatorum universalium in Regnis Galiciae et Lodomeriae a die 1. januar. ad ultimam decemb. anno 1789 emanatorum. Kontynuacya wyroków y rozkazów powszechnych w Galicyi y Lodomeryi królestwach od dnia 1. stycz. aż do końca grudnia roku 1789 wypadłych [Continuation of the general ordinances and decrees in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria enacted between the first day of January and the end of December 1789]. L’viv: Piller.

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  • Die Ergebnisse der Volkszählung vom 31. Dezember 1910 in den im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreichen und Ländern. 1914. Vol. 1, Heft 1: Die Bevölkerung nach der Gebürtigkeit, Religion und Umgangssprache in Verbindung mit dem Geschlechte, nach dem Bildungsgrade und Familienstande; die körperlichen Gebrechen; die soziale Gliederung der Haushaltungen. Edited by Bureau der k. k. Statistischen Zentralkommission. Vienna: K. k. Hof- und Staats-Druckerei.

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1 Acknowledgment: This article was written with the support of the Erwin Schrödinger Scholarship of the Austrian Science Fund (fwf).

2 I prefer the ethnonym "Ruthenian" over the later "Ukrainian" because it was used until the early twentieth century both in Austrian official terminology and by the nationality in reference to themselves.

3 See the entry ‘Towarzystwo Akademickie "Zjednoczenie"‘ in the online Polski słownik judais­tyczny of the Jewish Historical Institute: http://www.jhi.pl/psj/Towarzystwo_Akademickie_Zjednoczenie [16/07/2015].

4 See the entry ‘Makhzikey ha-Das‘ in the online yivo encyclopedia: http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Makhzikey_ha-Das [16/06/2015].

5 Actually, in the first and second curia women were also enfranchised if they were the legal property owners or taxpayers. However, they were not allowed to cast their ballot personally, but had to delegate their vote to a male member of the same curia.

6 There was no such protection for the Ruthenian minorities in the cities. The urban constituencies were traditional territorially delineated one-mandate voting districts.

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  • aic = Arhiva Istorica Centrale (Central Historical Archives), Bucharest, Guvernământul Bucovinei, Ministerul de Interne, Mapa 109, Fasc. 4, cited in Leslie 1991, pp. 137–139.

  • apkw = Archiwum Panstwowe w Krakowie na Wawelu (State Archives in Cracow on the Wawel), Teki Schneidera, 199, 189, cited in: Kuzmany 2011a: 132–137; in English see Kuzmany 2011b: 77–79.

  • Bosnisches lgbl. 1910. Gesetz- und Verordnungs-Blatt für Bosnien und die Hercegovina 1910. Nr. 19, Allerhöchste Entschließung vom 17. Februar 1910. Landesstatut, Wahlordnung. The German version of the provincial law gazette is available at the alex online law collection of the Austrian National Library: http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?aid=lbh&datum=1910&page=43&size=45.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Continuatio 1789. Continuatio edictorum et mandatorum universalium in Regnis Galiciae et Lodomeriae a die 1. januar. ad ultimam decemb. anno 1789 emanatorum. Kontynuacya wyroków y rozkazów powszechnych w Galicyi y Lodomeryi królestwach od dnia 1. stycz. aż do końca grudnia roku 1789 wypadłych [Continuation of the general ordinances and decrees in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria enacted between the first day of January and the end of December 1789]. L’viv: Piller.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Die Ergebnisse der Volkszählung vom 31. Dezember 1910 in den im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreichen und Ländern. 1914. Vol. 1, Heft 1: Die Bevölkerung nach der Gebürtigkeit, Religion und Umgangssprache in Verbindung mit dem Geschlechte, nach dem Bildungsgrade und Familienstande; die körperlichen Gebrechen; die soziale Gliederung der Haushaltungen. Edited by Bureau der k. k. Statistischen Zentralkommission. Vienna: K. k. Hof- und Staats-Druckerei.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Die Freistatt. Alljüdische Revue. Monatsschrift für jüdische Kultur und Politik. Eschweiler.

  • Die Welt. Zentralorgan der Zionistischen Bewegung. Vienna, Cologne, Berlin.

  • Dziennik ustaw dla Galicyi. 1914. Dziennik ustaw i rozporządzeń krajowych dla Królestwa Galicyi i Lodomeryi wraz z Wielkiem Księstwem Krakowskiem [Provincial law gazette for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and the Grand Duchy of Kraków]. Część [section] X., no. 65. Wydana i rozesłana dnia 12. lipca 1914. The Polish version of the provincial law gazette is available at the alex online law collection of the Austrian National Library: http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?aid=lga&datum=1914&page=335&size=45.

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  • Galizisches lgbl. 1867. Galizisches Landesgesetzblatt, Nr. 8, Gesetz womit für die Stadt Brody die §§ 15 und 28 der Gemeinde-Wahlordnung vom 12.August 1866 abgeändert werden.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jedność. Organ żydów polskich [Unity. Mouthpiece of Polish Jews]. L’viv.

  • Jüdische Volksstimme. Unabhängiges unparteiisches Wochenblatt. Brno

  • nfp = Neue Freie Presse. Vienna.

  • östA = Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, ava [Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv], Hofkanzlei, iv T 1, Gal. 1784, Ktnr. 1520.

  • Österreichische Wochenschrift = Dr. Bloch’s oesterreichische Wochenschrift. Centralorgan für die gesammten Interessen des Judenthums. Vienna.

  • Reizes 1912. “Interpellation des Abgeordneten Reizes und Genossen an Ihre Exzellenzen den Herrn Ministerpräsidenten und den Herrn Minister des Innern in Angelegenheit der Berücksichtigung der jüdischen Bevölkerung Galiziens im Wahlreformprojekt für den galizischen Landtag, 70. Sitzung der xxi. Session (25. April 1912).” In Stenographische Protokolle des Abgeordnetenhauses des Reichsrates, xii. Legislaturperiode, xxi. Session, Anhang iii, 1844/i.

  • Sprawozdanie stenograficzne z rozpraw galicyjskiego Sejmu krajowego. 1914 [Minutes of the Galician provincial parliament. 1914]. 2. Posiedzenia [2nd meeting], i. sesyi [1st session], x. peryodu [10th legislative period] z dnia 14-go lutego 1914 [of 14 February 1914].

  • Stenographische Protokolle des Abgeordnetenhauses des Reichsrates. 1912 [Minutes of the House of Deputies of the Imperial Council].

  • Bader-Zaar Birgitta, . 2004. “Historischer Überblick zur Wahlrechtsentwicklung.” In Von Wahl zu Wahl, edited by Bildung Forum Politische, 2227. Innsbruck: Studien Verlag.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bałaban Majer. 1988 [1914]: Dzieje Żydów w Galicyi i w Rzeczypospolitej Krakowskiej 1772–1868 [The history of Jews in Galicia and in the Republic of Cracow, 1772–1868]. Cracow: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bernatzik Edmund. 1910. Über nationale Matriken. Inaugurationsrede gehalten von Edmund Bernatzik. Vienna: Manz.

  • Binder Harald. 1996. “Die Wahlreform von 1907 und der polnisch-ruthenische Konflikt in Ostgalizien.” Österreichische Osthefte 38: 293320.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ———. 2005. Galizien in Wien. Parteien, Wahlen, Fraktionen und Abgeordnete im Übergang zur Massenpolitik. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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