In the Ukrainian tradition the Lemkos are the inhabitants of 'Lemkivshchyna', a region extending on the northern and southern parts of the Carpathian Mountains. The area forms a specific 'peninsula' between the Polish and Slovak ethnographic regions. In Slovakia, the Lemkos inhabit the region called Saris as well as smaller areas near Spis and Zemplin. The historical Polish Lemkivshchyna is located in the Low Beskids and is 140 km long and 20-30 km wide. In the years 1944 - 1947 tragic forced migration of the local population took place in Polish Lemkivshchyna. Almost 95 thousand Lemkos, that is approximately 2/3 of the population were resettled to the USSR. The remaining part (approx. 30 - 35 thousand) were deported by the communist authorities into the Regained Territories in the West in 1947, which was an element of the 'Vistula' campaign. They were forced to settle on the area of almost 50 districts. The Lemkos community avoided this kind of experience in Slovakia after World War II. There are also smaller communities of Lemkos in Canada, the USA, Balkan countries (Serbia, Croatia) as well is in other countries. The emotional bond with the land of their ancestors is the major factor uniting the Lemkos. The relation of the Lemkos with their 'local homeland' is a specific phenomenon in the Ukrainian tradition. Fairly strong regional divisions can be observed in Ukraine. The specific characteristics were preserved by Podolians, Slobodans and Boykos. Yet these groups do not manifest the feeling of internal bond or emotional relations with the region. The Lemkos population, dispersed in many countries, has its own one and common 'local homeland' but various 'greater homelands'. For some of them Ukraine is their 'great homeland' and for others the Carpathian Ruthenia. The difficulty the Lemkos experience with specifying their national identity is not unique in Europe. People who live in the borderlands of different cultures always find self-identification problematic. The Alsatians from the French-German borderland or the Silesians from the Polish-German borderland are further examples. Hence the relation with the 'local homeland' is decisive in terms of identity.
Dąbrowski D., Rusińska karta w Karpatach. Z zagadnień tajnych działań polskiej dyplomacji i wywiadu na Rusi Podkarpackiej i wschodniej Słowacji, przed wybuchem II wojny światowej, [w:] Łemkowie, Bojkowie, Rusini – historia, współczesność, kultura materialna i duchowa, Legnica-Zielona Góra 2007.
Dąbrowski D., Rzeczpospolita Polska wobec kwestii Rusi Zakarpackiej (Podkarpac¬kiej) 1938-1939, Toruń 2007.
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