Showing posts from 2015

On Makhno's Wife Halyna Kuzmenko

Nestor Makhno (1888-1934) was a Ukrainian anarcho-communist revolutionary and the commander of an independent anarchist army in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922.

Nestor Makhno's last wife was a teacher from Huliaypole, Halyna Kuzmenko. They were married in 1919. Together they crossed the Romanian border, escaping the Bolsheviks. They divorced in the 1920s. During WWII, after the Germans occupied Paris, Halyna and her daughter went to Germany, where in 1945 they were arrested by the NKVD. Halyna received a sentence of 10 years in the work camps. She was imprisoned in Mordovia, in Dubrovlag. 
In my great aunt’s memoirs she writes about her time in a camp in Mordovia, and comments on her encounter with Halyna Kuzmenko:
"They brought arrested women from all over. Often among them would be interesting people: to our camp, we were told, came the wife of Nestor Makhno, who had been arrested in Berlin. She was an old, tiny, gray-haired woman who wore glasses with thi…

Ivan Franko: On His Visits to My Family's Library and His Phenomenal Memory

My great grandmother had the honor of meeting Ivan Franko, who used to visit her aunt and uncle's library in the village of Tsishky, near Oleskyi Zamok. Her aunt and uncle were Toma Dutkevych, the parish priest and one of the founders of the agricultural organization Silskyi Hospodar, and his wife Julia Kuhn. This was in the early 1900s.
This is what is left of the Duktevych's house. It used to be several times larger.
Below is an excerpt from my great aunt's memoirs, in which she describes her mother's memories and impressions of Ivan Franko.
"In Tsishky the Dutkevyches had a large library. Years before, when he had come to visit them, the renowned Ukrainian poet and social activist Ivan Franko often made use of this library. My mother, a 17-year-old girl at the time, eagerly listened to her elders' conversations and admired Ivan Franko's phenomenal memory. After spending even a short time in their library, Franko would then in conversation be able to…

Olena Kulchytska: Combining Galician Secession and Ukrainian Folk Art

Olena Kulchytska was a Galician Modernist, legendary Lvivian, famous artist, and skilled teacher. She is my favorite Ukrainian artist; in particular, I like how she combines Secession and Ukrainian folk art. Furthermore, she lived about 5 minutes away from where I live in Lviv, and in the interwar period in Peremyshl she taught my grandmother drawing at the Ukrainian gymnasium for girls.
"Olena Kulchytska was born on September 15, 1877, in Berezhany, in Ternopil region to the family of a Galician lawyer Lev Kulchytsky and Maria Stebelska. The artist’s parents were descendants of old Ukrainian families which preserved, apart from family coats of arms, the spirit of Ukrainianness and honorable attitude to their land. Olena, her sister Olha, and brother Volodymyr spent their childhood in small district towns of Galicia – Lopatyn, Kamianets-Strumyliv (now Kamianka Buzka), Horodok – in a special atmosphere of customs and traditions which reigned in the milieu of Ukrainian intelligents…

Josyfa Kühn 2x

In the eighteenth century in/near Lviv there lived a a nun and poet named Josyfa Kühn. The following century in Brody, Galicia, there lived a woman named Josyfa Kühn, the daughter of a German merchant (picture of her can be found in this article). The latter was my great-great grandmother. While the only connection between these two women is their name, I nevertheless feel a connection to the nun, who is famous for a series of poems she wrote about the outskirts of Lviv (written in German). Furthermore, she is known in Ukrainian pop culture due to the poem about her written by contemporary Ukrainian writer Yuriy Andrukhovych and the song using this text by the rock group Mertvyi Piven.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find an online version of the song, but here's the poem:

Йосифа Кун. Дух
Дозволь мені кружляти над тобою. Я знав Йосифу Кун, я знав ще кількох жінок. Песій Ринок вітав мене песім гавкотом, А черниці з вулиці Сакраменток Ховалися в нішах.
Ані разу не вигнав мене Ма…

My Ancestor Karol Lipiński: Violinist and Conductor in Lviv's First Theater

Lviv has always felt like my native town; however, in recent times none of my ancestors were from here. But in the last few years I discovered that my direct ancestors on two sides of my family (Polish and Austrian) did live in Lviv, but over 200 years ago, in the early 1800s.

The Lipińskis My great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Feliks Lipiński. "Born in 1765 in Zakliczyn near Tarnow, his life had presumably followed a course similar to that of other talented peasant children. He may have been educated in music in one of the numerous monasteries and then probably took up a teaching career at aristocratic courts where he tutored his charges in playing several instruments."

"The end of the 18th century saw Feliks Lipinski in the estate of the Potocki family at Radzyn near Lublin. His first born was the son Karol Jozef who came into the world on 30 October 1790."

It was this son, Karol Jozef, a great uncle of mine, who would become famous across Europe.

In 17…

Obsolete Skills

"7 Skills Your Grandparents Had That You Don't"

The skills listed are: cooking from scratch, sewing, canning, ironing, meeting people without the benefit of the Internet, haggling, writing beautiful letters. The full article can be found here.

'Beware Walls that Pee Back'

A modern take on urine deflectors or "pee bumps" - a special paint that makes urine bounce back.

From the article: "When peeing in public in this German city, beware walls that pee back"

Update on Hungarian Roller Shutter in Lviv

A third update on the Hungarian-made roller shutters on Kopernyka Street. After many years or even decades, this old pharmacy has reopened - but rather than selling medication, now it's a store that sells fancy soaps. A lot of the old wooden furniture is still in place, as well as an old mural on the ceiling. And fortunately, the original shutter is also in place - freshly painted over (though already graffitied) and now in use once again. The building was built in 1892, and the shutter could date from that time too, making it well over 100 years old.
I first posted pictures of these shutters a few years ago, found here,  and up update after it had been graffitied.

Last time I was in Mukachevo, I found a shutter made by the same Hungarian company, as seen here.

Ruins of Mikolasch Passage

Mikolasch Passage was a glass-covered shopping arcade, which housed two cinemas, restaurants, cafes, and shops. The passage was built between 1898 and 1900. One entrance was from Kopernyka Street, through the entrance of Piotr Mikolasch's famous pharmacy. (In 1853 in Piotr Mikolasch's pharmacy, Jogann Zeh and Ignacy Lukasiewicz invented the first kerosene lamp. In 1892 the building on Kopernyka 1 was built for the new pharmacy by Karol Mikolasch, the son of Piotr.)
The passage was destroyed by bombing in June 1941.
Entrance from Kopernyka Street

The ruins

Ghost sign - looks like the middle of the word "Mikolascha"

Maramaros: 'The Lost Jewish Music of Transylvania'

"If the real Jewish music of Transylvania is gone, this disc makes sure it will not be forgotten."  - See more here.

Boyko Music: 'At the Foot of the Carpathian Chain'

My paternal grandfather was born in the village of Lybokhora (Turka District), the "capital" of Boyko instrumental music. His parents, who were from the Sambir and Lviv regions, moved to this Carpathian village in the early 1900s to direct and teach at the local school.
This is a picture from Lybokhora (1930s) of my grandfather (white shirt in second row, with bird on his shoulder) with his parents, siblings, and some family friends. 
Many years ago I came across an album of authentic music recordings from his village. When I listen to it, I can image that during celebrations and rituals, my ancestors heard precisely this music.

Links with info and downloads:

EuroMaidan Anniversary: 'A Line from My Autobiography'

Today marks the second anniversary of the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity, or EuroMaidan, which ended the rule of Yanukovych in Ukraine.

I'd like to share a video for a song based on a text by contemporary Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko called "A Line from My Autobiography." The song is performed by the Telnyuk Sisters, and the video shows images from the revolution: Ukrainians fighting for their freedom, dignity, and land, including the violent battles.

The text is basically about how "my ancestors" have always been fighting for their land, which has always belonged to them. And ends with these words:

Oh and they were a strong breed —
*Solovky, Magadan, Kolyma...
My ancestors were a people —
A people,
which is no longer.

*names of Soviet prison camps

РЯДОК З АВТОБІОГРАФІЇ Мої предки були не вбогі На пісні та свячені ножі — З моїх предків, хвалити Бога, Заволокам ніхто не служив! Дарували від батька до сина Честь у спадок — як білу кість! Мої предки були …

NPR: Tigran Hamasyan – Exploration of Ancient Sacred Music from Armenia

From NPR: "'In Armenia, after the Soviet Union and almost a hundred years of atheism, a lot of things have been, I don't want to say forgotten, but haven't developed greatly,' he told his record label. 'The music was in the shadow.'"

"But the shadows are receding, at least a little. With Luys I Luso, Hamasyan is shining his own unique light on his homeland's ancient traditions."

Supposedly, a great grandmother of mine was Armenian. The story goes that a great grandfather of mine, Antin Levytskyi, was a Zaporizhian Kozak (probably early 18th century) and when he was wounded he was taken care of by an Armenian woman, Miriam, whom he later married. So I also feel some very distant connection to Armenia.

Orkiestra św. Mikołaja: 'From the High Field'

"Z wysokiego pola" (From the High Field) is one of my favorite songs by Orkiestra św. Mikołaja.  The melody of the song is Hungarian,  while the text is a Polish ballad from the region near Zamość—an ancestral land.  In the early nineteenth century my great 4x grandfather had an estate in Zalesie. His son, my great 3x grandfather was born in 1822 Łabunie, the nearby village. Even before I found the connection between the song and my ancestral land, I was always very moved by the song. Something about the melody and lyrics really struck me.

The lyrics in Polish and English are below.
I also like the image used in the video — women in folk costumes against the background of brick ruins.

Z wysokiego pola, z rajskiego podwórza Zakochał się Jasio w Maniusi jak róża.
Gdy się Mani matka o tym dowiedziała, Poszła do murarzy, murować kazała.
Murarze, murarze, prośbę do was wnoszę: Wymurujcie wy mi, o co ja was proszę.
Murarze, murarze prośbę wysłuchali, Nadobnej Maniusi więz…

Cyrillic Hand-Painted Sign in Pre-WWII Lviv

I haven't come across many Ukrainian or Russian store signs in photos of prewar Lviv. On Ruska Street there are some Cyrillic ghost signs, in particular one in Ukrainian, which can be found here. I've also found a Ukrainian ghost sign in Przemysl.
Below is a photograph of furniture shop. In addition to Polish, there is also Russian (though in contemporary Russian it should be "Магазин Мебели" not "Магазин Мебелей"). If it is indeed Russian, it likely dates from 1914-1915 when Lviv was briefly under Russian rule during WWI. Otherwise, as was pointed out to me in a comment, it could be Iazychie, a language used by Ukrainian Russophiles.
I like the couch in front of the store and the "ghost" near it.

Old Hat Shop Signs in Lviv

Here's a lovely old photo of a shopfront in Lviv. The shop sold various kinds of hats. "Czapek" means "hat" in Polish.
I've posted other old photos of Lviv with hand-painted advertisements, Part I and Part II

One of my favorite ghost signs visible in Lviv today is from another hat shop, pictured below. (I've posted these before, here and here.)

Antique Tiles in Drohobych

My friend sent me pictures of these lovely antique tiles in Drohobych, which were made by Joachim Sternbach's company, probably in the interwar period.

Lviv Tiles: Building Years

Usually I've found the dates of buildings carved into the facade, but occasionally the years were marked in other places, for example on the floor near the main entrance, such as can be seen in my posts about terrazzo or on tiles as seen below.

This one includes the old street name and building number

From The Atlantic: 'The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies'

Article on "The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies"
"The horror-movie trope owes its heritage to Haitian slaves, who imagined being imprisoned in their bodies forever."
"'The Zombies'​​ by Hector Hyppolite,  which hangs in the Museum of Haitian Art of St. Peter College in Port-au-Prince"