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Where are the Lemkos now? Do they still exist in Poland?

Koach 16 | 128
4 Feb 2007 #1
To my understanding, many of Poland's Lemkos returned to southeastern Poland during the 50's. Did the others remain in other parts of Poland? Do many Lemkos still inhabit southeastern Poland?
krysia 23 | 3,058
4 Feb 2007 #2
Rakky 9 | 217
23 May 2007 #3
The article accessed via the URL provided by krysia is not comprehensive. For a good deal more information regarding the Lemkos I recommend and
celinski 31 | 1,258
15 Nov 2007 #4
I am looking into my Grandmother, Maria Lochka being a Lemkos. I hear they may be from Grodno and now live in Gdynia. If I can ever find her family that will help. What do you think? carol
USLemko - | 2
1 Dec 2009 #5
Most of the Lemkos now reside in western Poland, where they were forcibly resetted in 1947 during the military operation known as the Vistula Operation (Akcja Visla). They are scattered throughout the towns and villages of western Poland. But there is a major concentration in and around Wroclaw and the Lemko cultural center of Legnica.

Every August, the Lemkos in this area hold a Vatra (traditional mountain bonfire festival) in the village of Michalowce, which Lemkos from all over Poland and other countries travel to attend. The Lemkos who sponsor this Vatra do NOT consider themselves to be Ukrainian.

However, since the 1950s, about 10-20% of the Lemkos have returned to their homeland, which runs along the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains in southeastern Poland (referred to as the Lemko Region or Lemkovyna.) They are scattered in villages and towns from just east of the Tatras all the way to Sanok, with a number residing in the Bieszczady. The major Lemko cultural centers are in Krynica and Gorlice. There is a wonderful Lemko Museum in Zyndranowa (near the Dukla Pass).

Every July, a Lemko Vatra is held above the village of Zdynia, which is also widely attended by Lemkos from Poland and Ukraine. This vatra is sponsored by those Lemkos who consider themselves to be of Ukrainian origin. But this is another story.
Rakky 9 | 217
1 Dec 2009 #6
Great post, USLemko - diakuju.

Most of the Lemkos now reside in western Poland

That is true for the Lemkos who still live in Poland. However, there are much larger Lemko populations in Ukraine, Slovakia, US and Canada these days. So if you're looking for descendants of Lemkos, be prepared to cast a wide net.

There is a wonderful Lemko Museum in Zyndranowa (near the Dukla Pass).

There is another skansen where one can view traditional Lemko homes and out-buildings in Nowy Sacz.

...Lemko Vatra ...Zdynia, ...widely attended by Lemkos from Poland and Ukraine...sponsored by those Lemkos who consider themselves to be of Ukrainian origin.

I attended that vatra last summer - it was much more Ukrainian than Lemko, but it was a great event nonetheless. True Lemkos just need to be tolerant of the political bs.

But this is another story.

C'mon - tell the story! Tell the story!
8 Feb 2010 #7
I was born in America but my whole family are Lemkos and they all come from Poland mostly and some are still in Poland today. My parents and grandparents lived in a village called Losa in Poland in which it was populated mosty by Lemkos yet. Losa,Poland is southeast of Poland where most of the Lemkos are from until after WWII when Poland and the former Soviet Union relocate most of the Lemkos out of shouteast Poland to northern Poland or go and live in Ukraine where my great grandmother and great grandfather on my mothers side had to live since there 1947.
Trevek 26 | 1,700
8 Feb 2010 #8
Yes, there are quite a few. In recent years it has become more possible to speak about things like Akcja Wisła and more people are openly acknowledging their £emko culture and background.

I did some carolling with Teatr Wiejski Węgajty in £emko villages around Nowice. The population is mainly old but in some places they are trying to educate the kids in £emko. I have some interviews I made years ago which have some interesting stories on them.

We also have a few in Warmia-Mazury but often they have 'assimilated' and the children/grandchildren are not aware they are from £emko families.

In US, I believe Andy Warhol was £emko.
Iamlemko - | 2
27 Jul 2010 #9
Hi there,
it is so great to find true £emkos here! I am a proud £emko too - my family is from the region around Krynica and they were relocated in 1947 to Legnica.

I just came back from my trip to Lemkovyna. There are still some £emkos living in the area around Krynica (most of them returned in the 50ies/60ies). There are some Cerkiew (church) in that region, where they still celebrate the traditional lemko greek-katholic mass.

And yes: Andy Warhol was Lemko too! As far as I know, his family was from the Lemko region which is now on the Slowakian side, very close to the polish border.

Hi stevephoenix,
Is your family from £osie maybe, or is it Losa, because I just was there and some people spelled ist Lose - but the village is calles £osie. Losie is very close to Krynica/South Poland. I am asking this, because I am looking for relatives from this area. My familiy comes from Krzyzowka, Roztoka Wielka and Krolowa Gorna (was called "Krolowa Ruska" before). And Roztoka Wielka is in the very close neighbourhood to £osie!

Could you please check if your familiy maybe comes from Losie? As the villages are so super small, the Lemko people knew each other in that area.
PennBoy 76 | 2,432
27 Jul 2010 #10
What i don't understand is why are so many young Lemkos or Ukrainians who were born in Poland or live there anti-Polish? i know all about Akcja Wisła i know Poland conquered Ukraine and colonized tried forcing Roman Catholicism and Polish language on the people, but what UPA and OUN did went way beyond that, killing tens of thousands of men women and children. Poland oppressed them but wasn't murdering thousands of people for nothing except for a few volunteers in the Wehrmacht. Both nations did bad things to each other it's all in the past. Why can't young Lemkos and Ukrainians get over it understand their people did bad things also, i'm sure they're not being discriminated against in present day Poland.
DJDunda 1 | 10
27 Jul 2010 #11
While you are correct that both sides did things and it was in the past, people need closure and that still has not happened for some. I would imagine (I am an American and only recently found my Lemko heritage) many still have not had the chance to learn to forgive and forget. As Trevek said...

Yes, there are quite a few. In recent years it has become more possible to speak about things like Akcja Wisła and more people are openly acknowledging their £emko culture and background.

These young Lemkos and Ukrainians were taught their culture from their parents and grand parents, but were not able to freely and openly express or experience it. They inherited their families passions and feelings about the past suffering and it festered in the dark.

I have read much of the suffering from Akcja Wisla and find that I internalize it as MY PEOPLE SUFFERING and it seems more tragic to me. And I never had to deal with the actual oppression. I can only imagine how people who grew up Lemko "in secret" feel.

The past should be forgiven and people need to learn to live together, but until they feel the closure with their right to express their heritage, as they are just starting to do, this will not happen. I am sure they also seek closure in the public acknowledgement of the past tragedies/attrocities (such as the Polish Governments efforts to acknowledge Akcja Wisla). As the saying goes..."time heals all wounds" and it will take a lot time for people to forgive the loss of culture, expression and homeland. At least it seems that the Lemkos/Ukrainians are now on that road to recovery.
Slavicaleks 8 | 98
2 Jun 2012 #12
Who are Lemko (Rusyns) people? Any Lemko people on here?

would like to learn more about these people
Trevek 26 | 1,700
2 Jun 2012 #13
The thing with the £emko was that during the interwar period, many Polish ethnographers declared them "Polish", speaking a dialect of Polish. By 1947, with the rise of Ukrainian seperatism, they were declared "Ukrainian" and speaking a dialect of Ukrainian., given 2 hours to pack and loaded on trains for the "recovered territories" of Silesia. Pomorski and Warmia-Mazury. Some return to their homes later on, but many of the villages are dying now. The old people I interviewed in one village felt "real" Lemko culture died with Akcja Wisła, but other people were still active in trying to pass the culture on to younger members.

This guy is interested in Lemko culture and has written about it:

Oh, and I believe Andy Warhol was Lemko.
Slavicaleks 8 | 98
2 Jun 2012 #14
Thank you so much for the information
I was told that my great grandmothers surname ''Pawluk'' is somewhat common within the Lemko (Rusyn) community but its very hard to find information because i don't know Polish or Russian.
Trevek 26 | 1,700
2 Jun 2012 #15
These might help:
Trevek 26 | 1,700
2 Jun 2012 #17
You're very welcome. Good luck with your search :-)

This might be useful too:
Slavicaleks 8 | 98
2 Jun 2012 #18
Do the Lemko people in Poland today consider themselves Polish or Ukrainian ethnicity ? (not nationality)
Trevek 26 | 1,700
2 Jun 2012 #19
I'm not really an expert, but from my experience (talking to a few and reading a bit) it kind of runs into 4 groups (at least). Some decide they are Polish or Ukrainian, some are specifically £emko and others aren't aware of it much. I suppose others just keep their mouths shut to outsiders.

Part of the idea behind moving them in 1947 was to break the link with Ukrainian separatists. They were moved to areas which had been granted to Poland after WW2 when the borders moved. These areas were also populated (Polonised) by Poles who were moved from areas such as Ukraine, Lithuania etc.

Some scholars suggest that in such cases social groups often feel a need to express their identity strongly. So, amongst a population of angry Poles (angry about the war, angry about being moved from their homes), it wasn't always a wise idea to express yourself as a "Ukrainian" (even if some Lemko did not consider themselves such). One man I spoke to mentioned how he had been away from the area when Akcja Wisła took place. One day, after he'd returned, he started arguing with someone in a town in the south (near his home) and people were amused to hear he was Lemko. At one point some other men approached him, took him to the side and told him to shut up and stop drawing attention to himself as the Lemko who had managed to remain were trying to keep a low profile.

In the new areas, some just decided to "become" Polish (assimilate) and now their grandchildren may not even know about their own heritage. In others they became stronger in their ideas about being Lemko, sometimes deciding to align with Ukrainian identity (or Lemko Ukrainian).

I met singers and cultural/language activists trying to educate the young people about £emko culture, but in many places it seems to be dying as the older people don't always feel a need to pass it on.

One fascinating (but sad) conversation I heard in a village in the south, was when a Polish woman said they were trying to teach all the kids at the primary school Lemko language. The old farmer's wife snorted that it was a waste of time because they'd never speak it when they left the village... and they would. "Teach them German or English, something of use to them!" The old farmer piped up that £emko culture didn't exist anymore, had stopped existing in 1947 and one day people would read in books that there used to be people called £emko...

I must point out, these are just my own experiences and things I've heard from chatting with/ interviewing people. If anyone on PF feels I am misrepresenting anyone, my apologies, and please feel free to correct me on any point.
Slavicaleks 8 | 98
2 Jun 2012 #20
Poles are not perfect like ALL people. But if what you say is true (I'll take your word ) that is very sad.

My grandmother is ( 89year old) Belarusian who was born and grew up in West Belarus then apart of Poland and she was very heavily Polanised so i think it was a common thing back then.

Thanks again
strzyga 2 | 993
2 Jun 2012 #21
A young £emko musician and his band called Lemon won the latest Polish edition of Must Be the Music. They're basing on the £emko musical tradition and sing in the £emko language too.
Slavicaleks 8 | 98
2 Jun 2012 #22
thats good to see!
why are you interested in Lemko's in general ?
strzyga 2 | 993
2 Jun 2012 #23
I don't have any personal bonds with the £emkos but it's always sad to see a culture disappear. People need the sense of identity and belonging. We had enough levelling in the communist times and it's good to see the smaller groups rebound now. Maybe the success of Lemon will convince the old £emko farmers that it's not a waste of time to teach their kids the language. And the music is very good, simply.
Trevek 26 | 1,700
3 Jun 2012 #24
why are you interested in Lemko's in general ?

I worked with a Polish theatre group called Teatr Wiejski Węgajty (Theatre of the village of Węgajty) in northern Poland. They are interested in indigenous cultures and traditions of Poland. For several years they did carolling in some Lemko villages in the south, singing Lemko songs etc. This is where I found out about them.

My grandmother is ( 89year old) Belarusian who was born and grew up in West Belarus then apart of Poland and she was very heavily Polanised so i think it was a common thing back then.

I have a friend who is a Bialorussian from Poland and he says his Grandparents won't speak the language to his kids because they still feel there is a stigma attached to it. Mind you, it's worth remembering that in the "old days" there wasn't always such a clear cut distinction between who was what until lines were drawn by other people and they were forced to choose. It happens both sides of borders, sadly.

A young £emko musician and his band called Lemon won the latest Polish edition of Must Be the Music.

Thanks, didn't know about this.
2 Dec 2013 #25
If you want to learn about Lemkos, check out Lemko Connections-English on Facebook. There is a community of almost 500 ethnic Lemkos there, of every ethnonational variety, and you will learn a lot.
27 Mar 2014 #26
Merged: Do Rusyns ( Lemkos ) still exist in Poland?

I think this is an interesting article and wonder if they still exist in Poland: mkos.html

Also this sounds like what russia still does but this time in the ukraine:

"In 1772, Poland was dismantled by three European powers and disappeared from the world map until 1918. The region the Lemkos lived in, Galicia, became a part of Austria. By the mid-1850s, Austria was one of the great world powers. On its border was another world power-Russia. And where Russia met Austria was in Galicia. By the late 1800s, Russia had decided it wanted to expand into Europe and the most logical place to do it was Galicia. Russia's plan was to convince the Rusyns they were "Russians from the Carpathians." They believed that if they were successful, they could invade Austria, saying they were liberating their "own people."

Russia began to operate Russian reading rooms in Lemko Rusyn villages where literature could be placed and teachers brought in to teach the Rusyns about their true "Russian" heritage. Austria decided to counter this by backing the new Ukrainian movement out of L'viv. With Austrian government support, Ukrainian reading rooms were opened in the Lemko region to convince the Rusyns that they were not Russians, but "Ukrainians." This "battle for the Rusyn soul" even came across the ocean to America, where Lemko communities were split into "Russian" and "Ukrainian " communities and churches. But the Lemko peasants were neither -they were Carpatho-Rusyns."

Also its interesting how the article says they didnt assimilate with Poles saying Poles have had influence from west but to me it always seemed the west treated poles as the gypsies or mexicans of europe, someone to sell out to russia or another power for a couple of bucks. Anyway:

"They were formed, like all other Rusyns, from the merger of the three tribes of White Croats, Vlachs and Rus' . And the Rus' tribes that helped make them up came to the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains from the 1300s-1500s. They settled the valleys there and built incredible wooden churches. They were very different from their Polish neighbors in speech, appearance and faith-since they spoke an East Slavic language(Polish is West Slavic) they were smaller in build and they were Eastern Christians (Poles being Roman Catholics).

Because they were so different, there was little chance of assimilation or "becoming Polish," the dominant nationality...

And because they did not assimilate with Poles and the western-influenced culture of the Poles, they kept a stronger tie to the East. Saints which played a key role in Lemko life included Paraskeva, Dimitri, Panteleimon, Barbara, Cosmas & Damian. This is reflected in the names of their churches and the names of their children."

Poland being a western country or different lol. Maybe if being a backhanded slapped child of europe means western. I dont get how different they were or must have been considering how different polish are from the want a police state americans or french and others who are all into the corporate crap.
f stop 25 | 2,507
27 Mar 2014 #27
Are we talking about one of highlanders's clans? Czuhonskie gorale?
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
6 Sep 2015 #28
Also, polonius says lemko is Ukrainian derived, I was told otherwise.

Lemko is not quite Ukrainian, although very close to it. They are separate people and they have a separate language, although the entire Lemko community is rather divided as it straddles three countries. It's a bit of a mess - you could consider Lemko to be a dialect of the Rusyn language, but I'm not sure that Lemkos in Poland are able to communicate with those from Serbia for instance.

Best thing is to consider Lemkos a separate people with a separate people, but they are closer to Ukrainian than Polish. But they aren't Ukrainian unless they specifically identify themselves as such.

From what I understand, part of the confusion is caused by Ukraine considering Lemkos to be Ukrainian and for their language to be considered a dialect of Ukrainian.
draynor - | 3
6 Sep 2015 #29
Well, to my knowledge they were in northern poland by that time (the early 60s). My dad's paternal family, who were the Lemko-Rusyns, had more than a few Russian speakers, while his mother's side was 100% polish. My dad himself spoke polish and identified with poland (albeit being orthodox), but he recalls family attempting to teach Lemko culture and later in America frequently visiting a rusyn cultural center where he noticed the Russian-orthodox and Ukrainian-catholic difference.

Also, a surname based on speech ability? Hehe
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
6 Sep 2015 #30
My dad's paternal family, who were the Lemko-Rusyns, had more than a few Russian speakers

I think you might be getting mixed up here - there were no Russian speakers in that part of the world. They would have spoke Lemko, which is also considered a dialect of the Rusyn language by some people. It is confusing, I know - but I can almost guarantee that they wouldn't have spoken Russian. However, most English language sources mix up Rusyn/Ruthenian/Russian.

My dad himself spoke polish and identified with poland, but he recalls family attempting to teach Lemko culture and later in America frequently visiting a rusyn cultural center where he noticed the Russian-orthodox and Ukrainian-catholic difference.

Post-WW2, there was a very heavy Polonization campaign, so it would only be expected that he would speak Polish. Minority languages such as Lemko were subject to heavy discrimination campaigns - people would have spoken them only at home.

Religion is a bit odd - the division within the Lemko people is most obvious with religion. But yes, some were Russian Orthodox, some were Ukrainian Greek Catholics and some were Roman Catholics. If you consider Lemkos to be part of the Rusyn people, then it gets even more confusing.

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