Part II: Bukovina and Czernowitz/ Cernauti/ Czernowtsy/ Chernivtsi 
1. The Special Status 

Nevertheless, the census responses of the Jews of Bukovina were so overwhelming for the German language that the figures are comparable only to those from the dominant German-speaking regions in the western half of the Monarchy. In the following section, we will go into the causal factors to which this development can be traced. 

In Bukovina in the final days of the Hapsburg Monarchy, the proportion of Jews in the total population reached 12.9%, the highest figure for any Austrian crown land, followed by Galicia with 10.9%; the proportion for the entire Austrian half of the Empire amounted to a mere 4.6% in 1910. The Jews of Bukovina were thus second only to the Greek Orthodox religious community and were numerically stronger than the Catholics. In Czernowitz, the center of political and cultural affairs, the Jews, considered as a religious group, comprised a third of the population and were thus the largest religious group. 
 

Table 5: Religions in Bukovina and Czernowitz in 1910 and in Bukovina in 1930
 
Religions
Bukovina
1910
%
Czernowitz (City) 1910
%
Bukovina %
1930
Greek Orthodox
547,603
69.4
20,615
23.7
71.9
"Israelites"
102,919
12.9
28,613
32.8
10.9
Roman Catholic
98,565
12.3
23,474
27.0
11.5
Greek Catholic
26,182
3.3
9,588
11.0
2.3
Augsburg Confession
20,029
2.5
4,294
4.9
2.4
Lippowans
3,232
0.4
84
0.1
 
Armenian Catholic
657
0.1
311
0.4
0.4
Helvetian Confession
484
0.1
75
0.1
 
Armenian Orthodox
341
-
31
-
 
Old Catholic
14
-
14
-
 
Islam
8
-
2
-
 
Anglican
1
-
1
-
 
Mennonite
1
-
1
-
 
No Religious Affiliation
62
-
25
-
0.1
TOTAL
800,098
100.0
87,128
100.0
(99.5%)*
[n=854,000]
* The remaining 0.5% consists of 0.1% Adventists, 0.1% Baptists and other small groups with shares below 0.1%.

Source: Die Ergebnisse der Volks- und Viehzählung vom 31. Dezember 1910 im Herzogtume Bukowina nach den Angaben der k.k. statistischen Zentral-Kommission in Wien (Mitteilungen des statistischen Landesamtes des Herzogtums Bukowina, Heft 17), Czernowitz 1913, S. 54 f., 80 f.; Enciclopedia Romaniei, Bd, 1, Bucarest 1938, p. 154.
 
 

But this was not the only factor which characterized this special status. Measured by the prerequisites of a modern industrializing society, a considerable segment of the Jewish population of Bukovina belonged to the social elite. This can be documented through a number of indicators. Bukovina (along with Galicia and Dalmatia) was among the most backward regions of the Austrian half of the Empire; that is to say, they were only in the initial stage of the modernization process. We would like to illustrate this phenomenon as well as the elite status of the Jews using the example of two indicators: 

1)Education: In the 1871 school year, only 10.9% of all school-aged children in Bukovina attended a public elementary school. By the outbreak of World War I, however, this deficiency had been remedied. In the 1913/14 school year, a mere 3% of all school-aged children were not receiving instruction, and these were mostly the children of Huzuls (Hootsool) in the remote villages of the Carpathians, the mountain range in the southern and western portions of Bukovina42. As a result of this structural weakness in the area of education, illiteracy was still widespread among Romanians (60.39%) and Ruthenians (61.03%) in the Austrian half of the Empire as late as 191043

With the founding of the University of Czernowitz in 1875, German efforts to achieve social hegemony had created a key bastion in the extreme eastern reaches of the Monarchy, which assumed even greater significance following the Polonisierung of the University of Lemberg. And the Jews of Bukovina took advantage of the German-language educational opportunities offered there to a far greater extent than any other group. At no other Austrian university did the percentage of Jewish students comprise a higher proportion of the total than in Czernowitz44

 

Table 6: Enrolled Students by Religion, Colleges/Departments of Austrian Universities (%)
 
 
School of
Law
School of Medicine
Department of Philosophy
Total
  Cath. Jews Others Cath. Jews Others Cath. Jews Others Cath. Jews Others
CZERNOWITZ
1883/4
31.9
36.2
31.9
-
-
-
34.9
33.3
31.8
24.0
25.8
50.2
1893/4
29.6
40.8
29.6
-
-
-
34.7
30.6
34.7
25.7
33.0
41.3
1902/3
22.6
52.4
25.0
-
-
-
38.0
27.5
34.5
24.9
40.5
34.6
1913/4
23.3
45.3
26.4
-
-
-
29.8
42.3
27.9
24.2
36.9
38.9
LEMBERG
1883/4
82.1
17.3
0.6
-
-
-
88.4
11.6
-
89.0
10.7
0.3
1893/4
73.8
25.3
0.9
-
-
-
78.0
21.0
1.0
81.0
18.3
0.7
1903/4
70.4
29.4
0.2
62.6
35.5
1.9
84.6
14.2
1.2
78.5
21.0
0.5
1913/4
70.4
29.1
0.5
52.3
46.5
1.2
75.5
23.3
1.2
70.9
28.4
0.7
AT ALL AUSTRIAN UNIVERSITIES
1863/4
88.1
8.8
3.1
60.9
29.5
9.6
86.1
4.8
9.1
83.6
11.2
5.2
1873/4
80.7
15.0
4.3
64.5
23.4
12.1
92.9
2.6
4.5
81.9
12.4
5.7
1883/4
79.9
16.1
4.0
52.3
38.7
9.0
81.7
8.5
9.8
73.6
19.9
6.5
1893/4
78.6
16.0
5.4
62.9
28.1
9.0
79.7
11.1
9.2
74.4
18.5
7.1
1903/4
76.1
18.0
5.5
58.6
27.6
13.8
79.5
12.4
8.1
76.2
16.4
7.4
1913/4
74.5
20.2
5.3
61.2
28.6
10.2
76.2
14.6
9.2
72.6
19.5
7.9
Source: Ernst Pliwa, Österreichs Universitäten 1863/4 - 1902/3. Statistisch-Graphische Studie, Vienna 1908, p. 28. Statistik der Unterrichtsanstalten in Österreich für das Jahr 1913/ 1914 (Österreichische Statistik,, NF, 17. Bd., 3. Heft), Vienna 1919, p. 4f.
 
 

Jews were particularly interested in receiving education in German since this seemed to offer the greatest promise for advancement within the Monarchy. This intensive interest in German-language educational opportunities is shown, for example, by the trend in the number of Jewish students attending the German high school in Czernowitz, where Jews ultimately accounted for three quarters of the student body. 
 

Table 7: Jewish Students at the German State High School in Czernowitz
 
German State High School in Czernowitz Total Number of Students Number of Jewish Students (Religion) Percentage of Jewish Students
1845/6
343
10
2.9
1865/6
162
100
61.7
1905/6
870
664
76.3%
Source: Broszat, p. 579.[1909 - Total Number = 1,451 Jews = 40.3%)
 
 

One indicator for this readiness to participate in the process of modernization, which seemed to be almost an exclusive trait of Jews in Bukovina, is the extraordinarily high proportion of Jewish girls in the middle (high school) level of the educational system in Bukovina in comparison to other crown lands45
 

Table 8: Attendance at Girls High Schools, 1913/14 School Year
 
Attendance at Girls High Schools
Roman Catholic
Other
"Israelite"
Proportion of Jewish Students
Lower Austria including Vienna 
265
84
301
46.3%
Bohemia
732
33
51
6.25%
Galicia
1.373
238
1.018
38.7%
Bukovina 
14
18
173
84.4%
Source: Österreichische Statistik, NF, Bd. 17, 3. Heft, Vienna 1919, p. 52.
 
 

Despite the fact that, to a great extent of course, the Jews of Bukovina continued to speak Yiddish, the German language exerted a strong attraction upon the younger generation as a sort of status symbol. Prive Friedjung, a butcher's daughter born in Zadowa in 1902, still recalls this fact: "The children of the Jewish inhabitants attended the German-language school. The mother tongue, Yiddish, was taught and learned through private instruction in the cheder. In school we probably also spoke Yiddish among ourselves, but German as well. Of course we wanted to speak German; after all, it was 'finer.' The German-speakers were the 'better people'."46 Here as well, we can see the hegemonial forces at work, implemented by means of the educational system. 

2) Social Stratification: The "elite thesis" can also be observed from a second indicator occupational structure of the population of Bukovina. Among members of Bukovina's two largest linguistic groups, the Ruthenians and the Romanians, the agricultural sector was dominant, accounting for nearly 90% of each group! 

 

Table 9: Employed Persons in Bukovina by Economic Sector,
 
 
Jews 
Germans 
(not including Jews)*
Ruthenians
Romanians
Poles
Jews as a % of all Employed Persons
Agriculture and Forestry
5,361
13.3%
14,607
48.2%
156,989
89.3%
139,831
89.7%
5,610
35.5%
1.6%
Industry and 
Crafts
9,827
24.3%
7,344
24.2%
5,346
3.0%
4,289
2.8%
4,683
29.7%
30.7%
Commerce and 
Transportation
16,818
41.7%
1,957
6.5%
4,001
2.3%
2,328
1.5%
2,075
13.1%
62.3%
Public and Military Service, Professions (Law, Medicine, etc.), Other
 
8,360
20.7%
 
6,411
21.1%
 
9,504
5.4%
 
9,431
6.0%
 
3,420
21.7%
 
 
21.1%
TOTAL
40,366
100.0%
30,319
100.0%
175,840
100.0%
155,879
100.0%
15,788
100.0%
9.5%
* Calculated according to census data specifying language of everyday use, according to which 95.6% of all Jews specified German. The corresponding portion of "German-speaking Jews" was in each case analogously subtracted from those listed under "German."

Source: Österreichische Statistik, NF, 3. Bd., 10. Heft, Vienna 1916, p. 226 f.
 
 

However, after 1860, when it was legally permitted for Jews to own land, they also played an important role in agriculture and forestry. In the law regulating elections for the provincial legislature in Bukovina, which took effect following the so-called Ausgleich in 1911 and were set up according to complicated national and social criteria, Jewish candidates were automatically awarded two legislative seats representing the electoral class of large landowners47

Although considerable numbers of Jews in Bukovina as well as in Galicia were involved in agriculture, we would like to focus our attention on those sectors which were essential to the process of modernization of the economy. In trade and transportation, Jews made up almost two thirds of all employed persons, and the proportion in trade would be even higher if the figure had been separated from that for transportation. In industry and crafts, Jews comprised almost a third of the workforce and were, along with the Germans, the most numerous and most important group. 

The Disparity Index of 70.6 between Jews and non-Jews with regard to economic classes was nearly the same as that in Galicia and thus extraordinarily high. This was above all attributable to the dominance of the agricultural sector by the non-Jewish workforce48. Applied to occupational groups, the Disparity Index, with a value of 39.1, was higher than in Galicia and the Austrian half of the Empire as a whole49

 

Table 10: Employed Persons in Bukovina According to Occupational Class, 1910
 
Bukovina 
Jews
%
Non-Jews
%
Proportion of Jews
Difference
Self- 
Employed
20,790
51.5
124,559
32.3
14.3
19.2
Lease- 
holders
616
1.5
408
0.1
60.2
1.4
Employees
3,920
9.7
7,065
1.8
35.7
7.9
Laborers
7,420
18.4
41,382
10.8
15.2
7.6
Apprentices
1,433
3.6
2,276
0.6
38.6
3.0
Day 
Laborers
1,170
2.9
72,725
18.9
1.6
16.0
Employed in Family 
Business & Farming
5,017
12.4
136,772
35.5
3.5
23.1
TOTAL
9.5
()
Source: Österreichische Statistik, NF, 3. Bd., 10. Heft, Vienna 1916, p. 226 f
 

The society of Bukovina continued to be based upon the division of labor by ethnic classes; that is to say, the separation of social functions according to ethnicity. Since social mobility had not yet begun to take effect within the large groups of Romanians and Ruthenians, the process of modernization had not yet created the potential for a climate of tension among the various ethnic groups. 

This elite position can be further illustrated by a few examples, such as one taken from the previously mentioned educational sector: of the 44 faculty 0chairmen elected at the University of Czernowitz between 1875 and 1919, there were 22 Germans, 11 Romanians, nine Jews and two Ukrainians50. This elite position is also evident in the sphere of politics. Since the Jewish city council members controlled approximately 20 of the 50 seats in that body, they twice succeeded in advancing a member of their ranks to the position of mayor of the capital city: Dr. Edmund Reiss (1905-1908) and Dr. Salo Weisselberger (1913-1914) who, as a result of his conduct during the period of Russian occupation during World War I, was subsequently raised to the nobility51. Moreover, according to figures cited by Benno Straucher, Jews paid more than 75% of all taxes in the City of Czernowitz and almost half of all direct taxes in Bukovina52

It would, of course, be a highly incomplete picture of Jewish society in Bukovina to portray their position as limited to the elite. Their social composition was quite heterogeneous reminiscences recall all too often only the laborers, innkeepers, artisans and those living on the verge of poverty53. What we have attempted to show here is that the Jews in Bukovina constituted a segment of the social elite and played a significant role especially in the admittedly not very highly developed modern sectors of the economy. Since, in contrast to the Polish large land owners in Galicia, there was no traditionally established, non-German elite to speak of in Bukovina and the hegemonial powers of German-Austrian domination in the areas of education and administration still played a leading role, the Jews of Bukovina oriented themselves in this direction. The positions of power of the two large national groups, the Romanians and the Ruthenians, were still too weak to cause a shift in this orientation on the part of the Jews. In their situation as a people living in a Diaspora, the Jews were always forced to rely on the protection of the hegemonial powers and this seemed, as before, to emanate from Vienna. 


© 1996 Lichtblau & John, Jewries in Galicia and Bukovina, in Lemberg and Czernowitz
 
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