The Lemkos — just others or no less than strangers
The Lemkos are a group of Ruthenian population, whose history is closely linked with that of Poland. Historically, they emerged as a fully distinct ethnographic entity in the Polish Carpathians, that is within the Polish state. The article is an attempt to answer the question: how are the Lemkos perceived by the Poles, who for centuries have constituted their natural social and national milieu? There is no doubt that the Lemkos differ from the Poles in their customs, language and religion. But are they strangers? In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the Polish gentry regarded the Ruthenians living in the Commonwealth as part of the Polish community. In the Second Polish Republic they enjoyed all the rights of Polish citizens. Shortly after the war, in 1944–1947, they were forcibly moved by the communist authorities from their little homeland in the Beskid Mountains. Today, as surveys conducted among the Poles show, the Lemkos are a group practically unknown to ordinary Poles.