Members of Memory war graves society and military reenactors from Kyiv and Lviv staged the dramatized reenactment of the battle of Lviv. “We are showing a combined reenactment of the events that lasted November 1 through 20, 1918, to demonstrate how the November Uprising unfolded,” Memory’s spokesperson Taras Pavlyshyn says. Although the battle itself was fought by Ukrainian and Polish armies, the reenactors’ wore uniforms of some other nations, too. “World War I involved soldiers of various armies, so they wore Austro-Hungarian, German, and even Russian uniforms,” Pavlyshyn explains.
“I am pleased that this year’s reenactment is held in Rynok Square in the city’s center, and not in the Citadel, as before,” says Kyrylo Halushko, historian who came to participate in the event as a Polish soldier. “It is a sign that these events are receiving much more attention now. This is very important because these events were a major contribution of Lviv and Galicia to the history of Ukraine during the collapse of Austria-Hungary in late 1918.”
The battle of Lviv began immediately after the proclamation of West Ukrainian People’s Republic on November 1, 1918. After the collapse of the Russian and Austrian-Hungarian empires, new states were being created. The Ukrainians, too, were preparing for military action to defend their rightful claim to the region and ensure that Western Ukraine would not return to Polish rule, but would become an independent state. As early as September 1918, Ukrainian officers of Lviv garrison and the units quartered in the city had formed secret Central Military Committee. In early hours of November 1, 1918, Ukrainian troops took control of Lviv, occupying all the key points of the city. The streets were patrolled by armed soldiers with yellow and blue-colored ribbons, and a yellow and blue flag had been hoisted over the city hall.
The battle of Lviv was characterized by street fighting. “Street fighting differed from conventional battles. It commonly involved tricks and ambushes,” we were told by Bohdan Voron, master’s degree student and history aficionado. “It is often said that the battle of Lviv pitched Ukrainian villagers against Polish Lvivian children who knew every nook and cranny of their city. When the villagers came to the city, they became disorientated and did not know where the shots were likely to come from. Moreover, the Ukrainian positions were few and far between, so they were forced to retreat. It was an organized retreat, as they aimed to retake the city later. We know from history that there was another siege of the city later on, which almost ended in victory for the Ukrainians.”