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.
Bukovina was characterised by great religious and national tolerance well into the 20th century, while its inhabitants felt bound by a strong sense of regional patriotism. The various ethnic groups pressed jointly for independence from Galicia. In 1849, their efforts were crowned by success: Bukovina was declared a crown territory of the Austrian part of the Habsburg dual monarchy. The voices of separatism were successfully silenced once more in the 'Bukovina Agreement' of 1910. To this day, the Agreement is considered a model of coexistence among various different ethnic groups in one community.
One unifying element was the desire of the middle classes for a modern education system. Since there was no dominant nationality, Romanian, Ruthenian and German were taught in equal measure. The three languages also had equal status in local government institutions. The German language, however, which was mostly also used by the Jewish population, tended to dominate cultural life. This was due to the enthusiasm shown by the urban population who, for example, set up reading clubs in German which were open to members of all ethnic groups. The University of Czernowitz was founded in 1875 as a result of a similar initiative.
The culture of Lemberg, the capital of Galicia, (Polish: Lwów; Ukrainian: Lviv) is the product of a centuries-old process of ethnic intermingling. One component of this was the German language, which predominated in the region for two centuries before it was supplanted by Polish. The spread of German in a city that was home to many different ethnic and religious groupings was due in part to German printers, publishers, booksellers and newspaper-owners.
In the 19th century, the educated classes of Jewish society in the free town of Brody, for example, adopted the Enlightenment ideas emanating from Germany, which led to the founding of German-Jewish schools. A major contribution to the German-language literature of Bukovina, which is of international significance, was made by Jewish authors such as Joseph Roth, Rose Ausländer, Paul Celan and Gregor von Rezzori. The work of the writer Karl Emil Franzos (1848–1904) reflects the world of East-European Jewish culture and the conflicts that he experienced as a Jew and German in Galicia and Bukovina.
Around 60,000 Germans still lived in Austrian Galicia towards the end of the 19th century. Whereas German Catholics had merged with Poles to form joint congregations in many places, the Protestants were only ministered to sporadically.
In 1893, Theodor Zöckler came to Stanislau (Ivano-Frankivsk), where he founded an orphanage and, later, other institutions modelled on the Bodelschwinghschen Anstalten near Bielefeld in north-western Germany. He worked actively to hinder the continued emigration of the Protestants and the assimilation of the German Catholics. To this end he helped to found the 'Association of Christian Germans in Galicia', which was open to all Christian denominations. The Zöckler'schen Anstalten and the Protestant schools in Lemberg attached importance to sporting activity. This was the origin of the region's German sports clubs. German amateur theatre groups were a regular feature of London's cultural life from 1869 onwards.