The article presents a portrait of the non-Galician countryside depicted in letters by Polish soldiers who during the first world war served in the Austro-Hungarian army. The correspondence, which comprises the source basis of the article, is part of a collection of letters which in 1914-1918 appeared in the periodical 'Piast', issued by the Polish Peasant Party - Piast. Wartime wanderings offered soldiers from Galicia, predominately of peasant origin, an excellent opportunity for economic and cultural–mores observations. The author intended to consider the letters from the viewpoint of assorted questions of interest to the correspondents - economic differences, the level of schooling and culture as well as social relations. With few exceptions all the correspondents were farmers, capable of conducting a suitable analysis of their observations; their involvement in economic issues was probably more in-depth than that of soldiers not connected with the cultivation of land on a daily basis. Another objective was to demonstrate that the experiences of the soldiers - as a rule uneducated men - expanded their intellectual horizons, stimulating a willingness to become knowledgeable and a need for comprehensive education. The examined correspondence deals with rural life in those countries whose economy represented a higher standard than Galicia as well as in lands which in the opinion of the soldiers lagged behind the Galician village. The authors of the letters expressed their appreciation for the accomplishments of other cultures and noted symptoms of civilisational backwardness. Finally, the author proves that the correspondents' observations enabled them to understand the reasons for the setbacks affecting Galicia and inspired them to become engaged in the reconstruction of the Polish economy.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.