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Galicia and Bukovina

These two adjoining regions to the north and east of the Carpathian mountains became part of the Habsburg empire in the mid-1770s, forming a single administrative unit until 1849. From 1863 until 1918, Bukovina was Austrian crown territory in its own right. The Habsburgs supported the settlement of Germans, whereby they only offered special privileges as an inducement to those coming to Galicia. Many of those who decided to risk a new start there came from south-western Germany. Many German craftsmen deemed the modernising process taking place in the country to be a good basis of existence. Furthermore, they were officially guaranteed a high degree of religious tolerance, which attracted many Romanians and Jews from the adjoining regions.

Whereas the ethnic divisions between Catholic Germans and Poles often disappeared, the Protestant communities developed something of a Diaspora mentality. Many impoverished Germans left Galicia for the USA or Prussia towards the end of the 19th century. Those living in Bukovina included Romanians, Ruthenians, Hungarians, Poles, Romanies, Armenians, Hutsuls, Lipovans and so on; there was no one nationality that dominated this mixture of ethnic groups. For a long period, the cultural elite consisted of Germans together with Jews.

The regional capital, Czernowitz (Chernivtsi), looked to Vienna, introducing tram cars and electric lighting at an early date, as well as building a magnificent theatre. The Franz-Josef University, founded in 1875, was Europe's easternmost German-language university.

German-language literature by Jewish authors from the area is especially influential. It was part of a short-lived German-Jewish symbiosis: the Jews hoped to improve their social status by cultivating the German language and culture. The Austrian authorities, for their part, considered the German-influenced Jews as a reinforcement of the German part of the population and thus of their own rule.