Lviv's "Pidzamche" district



The majority of the so-called "better" Lwow society is not familiar with the ins and outs of this suburb, located right next to downtown Lwow, yet so alien to it"" - Adam Krajewski, Lwowskie przedmieścia ("Lwow's Suburbs"), 1909

The suburbs north of the medieval city were considered ""special"" practically throughout Lviv's entire history. The territory between the Poltva river and the High Castle was not part of the city until the late 18th century. For this reason, this district became the home of those who had trouble settling within Lviv's official city limits. These were mainly the indigent, and those suffering religious persecution - Jews above all.

By the late 18th century, the Austrian authorities incorporated the nearest northern environs to Lwow, forming the Zhovkva suburb. However, the "suburban" character of the district remained. The suburb continued to be characterized by a concentration of retailers, artisans and the poor - as well as remaining the seat of a numerous Jewish community. Over the 19th century, this part of the city experienced growth, like other districts, but remained secondary in terms of construction quality and sanitary conditions. In the minds of many of Lviv's residents, Pidzamche remains a periphery to this day.

The changes brought to the city by the Second World War left their most radical and tragic imprint in the city's norther environs. In 1941, after the city was taken by German troops, it was precisely in the territory of Pidzamche, Zamarstynow, and Kleparow, that the Jüdische Wohnbezirke - the Jewish ghetto - was formed.

Along with the Yanivskyi concentration camp, Lysynychi, and the Vynnyky forest, the ghetto became one of the main Holocaust sites in Lwow.
Having returned to Lwow after the war, the Soviet authorities strove to change the order of things and introduce the main principles of Soviet statehood: a single-party system and Communist ideology in all spheres of life; the abolition of private property, the subordination of the individual to the collective, and intense industrialization. These changes meant loss of life, and ruined lives for hundreds of thousands of people. At the same time, these radical changes created opportunities for social advancement, primarily through education. The development of a Soviet Pidzamche was evident in priority development of factories, but had little effect on the quality of life of the district's residents. In a country, where "victory of the working class" had been proclaimed, Pidzamche remained a secondary and marginalized district, overshadowed not just by the central part of the city, but also by the new residential districts.

Images are compiled in frames of the research project "Searching for Home" in Postwar Lviv: The Experience of Pidzamche, 1944-1960."

Entry by: Roman Lozynskyi