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Lwów Eaglets

Lwów Eaglets

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Lwów Eaglets is a term of affection applied to the Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 teenagers who defended the city of Lviv
Lviv
Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following...

  in Eastern Galicia, during the Polish-Ukrainian War
Polish-Ukrainian War
The Polish–Ukrainian War of 1918 and 1919 was a conflict between the forces of the Second Polish Republic and West Ukrainian People's Republic for the control over Eastern Galicia after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary.-Background:...

 (1918–1919).

Background


The nowadays western Ukrainian Lviv
Lviv
Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following...

  before the breakdown of Austro-Hungarian empire, was the biggest and capital city of one of Habsburg's dominions - the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria was a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria–Hungary from 1772 to 1918 .This historical region in eastern Central Europe is currently divided between Poland and Ukraine...

. While Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 were the prevailing ethnicity in the province, in the eastern galician territories Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 constituted a majority (65%), Poles were a significant minority (22%) and dominated the cities, together with the Jewish
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 residents. In Lviv, according to the Austrian census of 1910, which listed religion and language, 51% of the city's population were Roman Catholics, 28% Jews, and 19% belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church , Ukrainska Hreko-Katolytska Tserkva), is the largest Eastern Rite Catholic sui juris particular church in full communion with the Holy See, and is directly subject to the Pope...

. Linguistically, 86% of the city's population used the Polish language and 11% preferred the Ukrainian language.

In the final days of collapsing Habsburg's empire, on November 1, 1918, Ukrainian soldiers from former Austrian army units occupied Lviv's public utilities and military objects, raised Ukrainian flags throughout the city and proclaimed the birth of the new Ukrainian state. While the Ukrainian residents enthusiastically supported the proclamation, the city's significant Jewish minority remained mostly neutral towards the Ukrainian proclamation and the Polish residents, constituting the majority of Lviv's inhabitants, were shocked to find themselves in a proclaimed Ukrainian state. Reacting to the Ukrainian military coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, Poles upraised throughout the city. Polish forces, initially numbering only about 200 people, organized a small pocket of resistance in a school at the western outskirts of the city, where a group of veterans of the Polish Military Organization put up a fight armed with 64 outdated rifles. After the initial clashes, the defenders were joined by hundreds of volunteers, mostly scouts, students and youngsters. More than 1000 people joined the Polish ranks in the first day of the fights.

The Lwów Eaglets


Originally the term was applied exclusively to the young volunteers (such as Antoni Petrykiewicz
Antoni Petrykiewicz
Antoni Petrykiewicz – was one of the youngest Polish defenders of Lwów , over which in late 1918 a Polish-Ukrainian conflict ensued.He was a pupil in the second class at Lwów Gymnasium...

), who had participated in the so called Defence of Lwów
Battle of Lwów (1918)
Battle of Lviv begun on 1 November 1918 and lasted till May 1919 and was a six months long conflict between the forces of the West Ukrainian People's Republic and local Polish civilian population assisted later by regular Polish Army forces for the control...

 , i.e. during the fights within the city (November 1 to November 22, 1918) and the following siege by the Ukrainian army from November 23, 1918 to May 22, 1919. With time, however, the term's application was broadened, and it is now used for all the young soldiers who fought in the area of Eastern Galicia in the defense of the Polish cause in the Polish-Ukrainian War
Polish-Ukrainian War
The Polish–Ukrainian War of 1918 and 1919 was a conflict between the forces of the Second Polish Republic and West Ukrainian People's Republic for the control over Eastern Galicia after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary.-Background:...

 and the Polish-Bolshevik War. In addition to the young Polish nationals of Lviv, those fighting in the Polish-Ukrainian battle for Przemyśl  are also frequently referred to as Eaglets (Pol. Orlęta Przemyskie).

Cemetery of the Lwów Eaglets


After the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, the Lwów Eaglets were interred at the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów
Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów
The Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów is a memorial and a burial place for the Poles and their allies who died in Lviv during the hostilities of the Polish-Ukrainian War and Polish-Soviet War between 1918 and 1920....

 (Polish popular name: Cmentarz Orląt Lwowskich), part of the Lychakiv Cemetery. The Cemetery of the Defenders held the remains of both teenaged and adult soldiers, including foreign volunteers from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów was designed by Rudolf Indruch, a student at the Lviv Institute of Architecture, himself an Eaglet. Among the most notable Eaglets to be buried there was 14-year-old Jerzy Bitschan
Jerzy Bitschan
Jerzy Bitschan was one of the youngest Polish defenders of Lwów, over which in late 1918 a Polish-Ukrainian conflict ensued....

, the youngest of the city's defenders, whose name became an icon of the Polish interbellum.
Also resting in the Eaglet's pantheon is six year old Oswald Anissimo who was executed together with his father Michał by the Ukrainian soldiers.

After the annexation of Eastern Galicia with the city of Lwów by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in World war II (see: Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland can refer to:* the second phase of the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 when Soviet armies marched on Warsaw, Poland* Soviet invasion of Poland of 1939 when Soviet Union allied with Nazi Germany attacked Second Polish Republic...

) and the following expulsion of the Polish population from the city, the graves were destroyed in 1971, and the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów was turned into a municipal waste dump and then into truck depot. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 and the formation of an independent Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, work began on the restoration of the "Eaglets' Cemetery", although slowed by opposition of local nationalists. Following Polish support for Ukraine's Orange Revolution
Orange Revolution
The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter...

 (2004), the opposition declined and the Cemetery was officially reopened in a Polish-Ukrainian ceremony on June 24, 2005. The last surviving Lwów Eaglet, Major Aleksander Sałacki (born 12 May 1904), died in Tychy
Tychy
Tychy is a city in Silesia, Poland, approximately south of Katowice. Situated on the southern edge of the Upper Silesian industrial district, the city borders Katowice to the north, Mikołów to the west, Bieruń to the east and Kobiór to the south...

, on April 5, 2008.

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