Pre-war Volhynia was a land inhabited by many nationalities: in the villages and towns you could come across Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Czechs, Armenians and even Tartars. Poles made up only 16% of the population there. The majority were Ukrainians. Similarly, in eastern Galicia, where Poles accounted for around 30% of the population. Those who lived in the villages tended to live just as poorly.
Despite the differences, people who remember pre-war Volhynia recall it as an idyllic, peaceful place to live. Although in the stories of the Ukrainians, there is often a sense of grievance that they were discriminated against by the Poles. People with a Ukrainian background had no chance of a career in the state administration. Nor was a university established in pre-war Poland where Ukrainian was the language of teaching. Poland settled colonists in areas inhabited by Ukrainians, whose presence was supposed to change the unfavourable demographic proportions.
Before World War II