Eine galizische Grenzstadt im langen 19. Jahrhundert
Brody, a town today lying in Western Ukraine, became part of the Habsburg Empire following the First Partition of Poland in 1772. Until Austria-Hungary's collapse at the end of the First World War the town was right on the border with Poland (until 1795) and later with Russia (until 1918). This book embraces a timespan of almost 150 years, excluding the First World War. It examines Brody's economic and social history in the first two sections; the third section is dedicated to the perception of the town's Austrian past. The most important material which serves as the basis for this work are archival sources mainly holdings in L'viv, Vienna, Paris and Kraków as well as published sources such as statistics, administrative handbooks and travel reports.
During the 18th and the early 19th century Brody was a major commercial hub in Central and Eastern Europe. Only in the last decades of the 19th century the city transformed from a centre of international trade and cultural importance into a peripheral town at the Galician-Russian border. Whether we should consider the case of Brody as a history of failure depends on one's perspective: From a macroeconomic point of view Brody's performance would not qualify as a success story, because the city failed to embrace an urbanisation and modernisation that was so characteristic for cities in this period. From the Galician perspective, however, the economical transformation of Brody was desirable, because the city's former international orientation had led to a certain self isolation from its Galician surroundings. Thus, from a regional point of view Brody's shrinking proved the city's successful integration into the social and political realities of the Crownland.
Several features distinguished Brody from other Galician towns even at the beginning of the twentieth century. No other Austro-Hungarian town was so predominantly Jewish, with Roman-Catholic Poles and Greek-Catholic Ukrainians never accounting for more than a third of the total population. Moreover Brody continued to play a certain role in Jewish thinking, in Rabbinic-Talmudic scholarship as well as in the spread of the Haskalah in east central Europe. In close connection with the strong support of Brody's Jewish elites for the Enlightenment, the German language kept its importance many decades longer than in other Galician cities. However, by the outbreak of the First World War even Brody's Jewish elites had switched from an orientation towards the German-speaking centre of the Empire to a certain degree of auto-polonisation. Special to Brody was also the strong commitment of the city and its environs to Russophile currents, whereas in the rest of Galicia the Ukrainian national movement rapidly gained popularity at the turn of the century.
The dichotomy between the extraordinary Brody and the typical Galician Brody wittingly or unwittingly shaped the city's perception in travel reports, literature and mental images. Today there are different ways of remembering Habsburg Brody. They mostly but not exclusively run along ethnic lines and omit the non-national. Sometimes the national narratives differ so much that we get the impression that they talk about completely different cities. Besides partly overlapping Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Austrian and Soviet lieux de mémoire we also find places where we can trace the town's former economic, administrative or cultural functions in present day Brody.