The Fifth Congress of Polish Technicians, September 8-11, 1910

ID: 74

The congress included a conference of technicians, four exhibitions, in particular those dedicated to aviation and architecture, and the unveiling of a monument to Julian Zachariewicz. Timed to the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, the congress had a distinctly Polish national character. At the same time, it had to show the independence of the new intellectual environment and to present Lviv as a center of science and modernity.



The first congress of technicians in Austria-Hungary took place in Vienna in 1880. It was initiated by the Lviv Polytechnic Society, which addressed the idea to their colleagues in the capital. The society, founded in 1876, united graduates of the reformed Polytechnic in order to defend their rights and status in the empire. By that time, full-fledged technical education had already been introduced and financed by the state, but obtaining it did not guarantee either employment opportunities or promotion in one's social status. The region did not have developed industry. Vacancies in administrative services were limited. As a rule, university graduates were preferred there. To improve this situation, young Galician technicians submitted a petition to the Provincial Sejm, which, like several other attempts, was unsuccessful.

The society began to establish contacts with the Viennese technical community in order to promote the case at the imperial level, to submit it to the Reichsrat and to change the relevant laws. This is why the First Congress of Austrian Engineers and Architects (named after the Vienna Society) was convened. It took place in September 1880 and was attended by 15 technical societies from Cisleitania (i.e., the Austrian part of the empire). The congress was chaired by the then head of the Vienna Society, famous architect Friedrich Schmidt; Julian Zachariewicz from Lviv was elected one of his deputies. These efforts led to some changes in the law: in 1883, the Reichsrat adopted significant changes to the 1859 Imperial Patent for industry. The implemented changes, however, did not have exactly the form and result the technicians had hoped for. As further discussions in technical periodicals show, this was partially due to the fact that the parliamentarians were mostly representatives of the titular nobility, landowners, while those with technical education remained scarce. Thus, on the one hand, the deputies did not understand the specifics of the technical sphere, while, on the other hand, they restrained its development deliberately, not desiring to share their privileged social position. Therefore, the issues raised in 1880 remained on the agenda of subsequent congresses held in Vienna in 1883 (2nd), in 1891 (3rd), in 1900 (4th), in 1907 (5th) and in 1911 (6th).

At the initiative of the Lviv Polytechnic Society, in 1881 a similar congress was for the first time held in Galicia. The main issues discussed were the possible reorganization of education, especially secondary schools, industrial schools, polytechnics, as well as developing Polish technical terminology and literature and outlining the needs of local construction. The participants in the event were technicians from three parts of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, divided by the borders of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and German empires. This indicated, among other things, the presence of a national-political component in the event. The congress took place in Krakow (Pamiętnik, 1884). The second and third ones took place in Lviv (in 1886 and 1894), the fourth one again in Krakow (1899). The main topics of these congresses remained essentially unchanged and covered everything related to the social status of technology: education (secondary and higher), titles (scientific and professional), employment opportunities and government support for industry.

The Fifth Congress of Technicians in Lviv was of great symbolic significance. The organizers and participants perceived it as an important component of the Polish national cause. Flags of national colors, selection of participants and invited politicians (representatives of the "Polish Circle"), as well as the fact that the organizers read written greetings of only Roman Catholic hierarchs (Archbishop Bilczewski and Bishop Bandurski) at the opening ceremony are clear evidence. The organizers emphasized that in 1899, at the previous congress in Krakow, an agreement was reached that the next, fifth congress would be held in Warsaw. However,these plans were disrupted first by the revolutionary events of 1905 in the Russian Empire and then by the Russian-Japanese war. Waiting for the political situation to normalize, the technicians delayed the event for a few years but eventually moved it to Lviv; again,the year was chosen not accidentally. 1910 marked the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald. The congress was timed to this date.

Since the time ofthe Polytechnic Societyfounding in 1876 and the first congress held in Vienna in 1880, the status of technicians in society had changed. After ten years of petitioning, technicians were given the right to vote and be elected to the Provincial Sejm on the basis of "personal qualifications", i.e. higher education. In this way, they were able to "dilute" the environment of legislators, dominated by lawyers and representatives of rich curiae. Higher technical education developed, and the imperial and regional authorities, as well as municipal administrations, increasingly supported it financially. In the "common people's"view, technology ceased to be considered something inferior or something that contradicted the teachings of the Christian church. The Polytechnic was slowly catching up with the University. From 1901, its rector entered the Provincial Sejm automatically (thus becoming a so-called "virilist"). At the same time, the institution’s scientific status was recognized: the title of "Doctor of Technical Sciences" was introduced, as well as the opportunity to defend thesesthere (and not only at the philosophical faculties of universities).

The direct organizer of the Fifth Congress was a delegation elected at the previous Fourth Congress in Krakow (pol. Stała delegacya IV-go Zjazdu). It was headed by Professor Jan Nepomucen Franke, the committee including a number of professors from the Polytechnic and heads of industrial enterprises.

The Course of the Events

The congress started on Thursday, September 8, with an informal evening "friendly meeting" at the Literary and Artistic Circle in the City Casino building. Newspapers reported the participation of several dozen to 200 people.

The official part was held on the following day, Friday, September 9, in the main building of the Polytechnic. The entrance to the territory was decorated with a triumphal arch. The building's attic was adorned with "standards in national colors" (white and red), and the spacious staircase was decorated with greenery, flowers and draperies. The meetings were held in the assembly hall, where a presidium table was placed next to the portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph (which was also decorated with greenery on the occasion); tables for the press were set up on the sides.

At 9:30 a.m. the hall was already "tightly filled" with participants who had special badges in the boutonnieres of their frock coats. The organizers were seated at the presidium table. Welcoming speeches were made by Jan Nepomucen Franke, a court counselor, professor and former rector of the Polytechnic; professor Leon Syroczyński, on behalf of the organizing committee; Stanisław Badeni, provincial Marshal; Bronisław Pawlewski, the then rector; and Kazimierz Obrębowicz, a representative of the Warsaw Technical Society. The program was announced, the congress was divided into 10 sections and the relevant secretaries were elected for each of them, as well as the honorary chairman of the congress, Obrębowicz.

Further, instead of the postponed unveiling of the monument to Julian Zachariewicz in the vestibule of the Polytechnic, three exhibitions were opened: student works on the third floor (annual since 1878) andthat of technicians, consisting ofdesigns produced by individual engineers or companies, on the second floor. On the ground floor and in the courtyard, perhaps, the greatest pride of the Fifth Congress was located –an aviation exhibition. After a joint photo on the stairs of the Polytechnic, the participants went to sectional meetingsin the afternoon.

At 7:30 p.m., those interested visited the Great City Theater. According to the press, it was a production of Franz Lecher's operetta "Gypsy Love." After that, the participants continued the evening in the restaurant of the hotel "Georges".

Section meetings went on on Saturday, September 10. At 11:30 a.m. the opening of the "First General Polish Exhibition of Architecture, Sculpture and Painting" took place. The architectural part was prepared by a committee in which the Circle of Polish Architects in Lviv (a section of the Polytechnic Society), founded in 1908, played a significant role. The exhibition was prepared hoping for Galicia's participation in the 1911 World's Fair in Rome. Exhibiting works by contemporaries from three parts of divided Poland, including Ukrainians and Jews, it sought to demonstrate unity in the diversity of the Polish national project. Special attention was paid to the late professors Julian Zachariewicz, Teodor Talowski and Antoni Popiel. The exhibition touched upon such topics as the search for a new modern style in architecture, the issues of the Zakopane construction and the transfer of folk motifs to urban architecture, documenting monuments (including Gothic and wooden churches), "city building" (urban planning). The organizers hoped to involve non-specialists and users of architecture in the discussions through the exhibition; however, as co-organizer Witold Minkiewicz noted, it was difficult for the public to understand the drawings and not the buildings themselves (Minkiewicz, 1910). The exhibition itself was housed in the Palace of Arts, which had remained in the Stryiskyi Park since the time of the General Provincial Exhibition in 1894.

Excursions to the new power plant at Persenkówka or to the gas station were planned for Saturday evening, according to the interests of those participating in the specialized sections.

On Sunday morning, September 11, overall results were summed up and the official part of the event in the Polytechnic building was closed. After that, a monument to Julian Zachariewicz was unveiled in the vestibule at the ground floor, a bust by Juliusz Beltowski. Professor Roman Dzieślewski, the cause initiator, began the ceremony with a speech. After him, the rector Pawlewski took the floor, and then Stanisław Żeleński, a former student of Julian Zachariewicz, the owner of a stained glass workshop in Kraków. Zachariewicz's son, Alfred, a well-known architect at that time, spoke on behalf of the family. A student surnamed Wolf (probably, Czeslaw by name) spoke on behalf of the students.

Excursions around the city were planned in the afternoon. At 7 p.m. a banquet started in the premises of the Riflemen's Society. It was attended by 200 to 300 people, "including ladies… mostly not locals." This detail is emphasized in various sources; obviously, unlike other cities, the participation of wives in events of this kind was not a common practice in Lviv. The banquet lasted until late, many toasts were proposed, funds were raised for a Mining Department of the Polytechnic, as well as for one Julian Zachariewicz Scholarship.

On Monday, September 12, the congress participants traveled to Drohobych, where they visited the new refinery (Odbenzyniarnia), and to Boryslav with its mines. A separate carriagewas provided for this purpose, the railway giving the congress participants a 40% discount. On Tuesday and Wednesday, September 13-14, there were separate excursions in sections to various industrial enterprises, etc.

Topics Raised

As mentioned above, the Congress was divided into ten sections. Many reports were highly specialized, thus reflecting the realities of the time: lately, science began to develop very rapidly, each branch in its own way, and was now almost impossible for one person to be an expert in several areas.

Technicians noted how much the world had changed in the 11 years between the Fourth and Fifth Congresses (1899 and 1910), in particular how the exact sciences and technologies had evolved. The issue of land routes they considered resolved. Instead, for them, the time had come to find appropiate solutions for waterways, canals and melioration. One of the main themes of the Congress was the connection of the Danube, Oder, Vistula and Dniester by canals for the transportation of raw materials, which could become a cheaper alternative to land (i.e. rail) transport. Polish technicians were eager to see the implementation of a large-scale and costly project, whose development and discussion had lasted for years. The report on this project was delivered by Roman Ingarden (Senior) at the solemn opening of the congress in the presence of as many participants, politicians and journalists as possible.

Most of the speakers were from Lviv, and there were also many Krakowians in the architectural section. The section was headed by a respected architect, lecturer at the Academy of Arts and publisher, Władysław Ekielski from Kraków. Gustaw Bisanz from Lviv, then the oldest professor of architecture, was elected his deputy (in 1910 he was made an emeritus professor, in fact, retired). According to the official publication of the congress, four reports were read at the section (data from sources differ); however, the text of none was published. Wincenty Rawski, an architect and head of the Polytechnic Society, spoke of the importance of involving architects in "city building" (as urban planning was called in these early stages). A Struszkiewicz (probably Jerzy Struszkiewicz) gave a speech on behalf of the students about their vision of reforming architectural education in Lviv, which he thought was outdated. He referred to the fact that in the last few years this had been discussed in the Krakow-based magazine Architekt, edited by Ekielski. Gustaw Bisanz and Rawski reported on the situation of architects in Austria and professional legislation. Zygmunt Dobrzański from Lviv spoke about measurements and documentation of architectural monuments.

The "general" section was most numerous (115 participants, 31 reports); it discussed education and organization of polytechnics, secondary schools, status and position of technicians, industry in general, legislation. In different sections, a theme of independence from the capital was touched upon, so that, for example, mining was taught not only in Austria but also in Lviv, and mining companies near Krakow were serviced by Polish, not Austrian specialists.


To a large extent, the Congress was a celebration as the technicians were honoring their milieu that had grown despite many difficulties. In addition, they emphasized the joy felt by colleagues who had the opportunity to meet in a friendly atmosphere, since the work had scattered many of them in different cities and countries. The Polytechnic in Lviv was the place where most of them had been educated and, therefore, the most appropriate meeting place.

The event had numerous traditional festive attributes, such as a triumphal arch at the entrance to the Polytechnic, decoration of the building, flags. Festivals organized by the Polytechnic students' Fraternal Aid Society took place in the Stryiskyi Park next to the exhibition. Mongolfiers (balloons) were launched there, a beauty contest and "happiness baskets" were held; although these events were not part of the official program of the Congress, tickets for them were sold by the Circle of Polish Architects (Kurjer Lwowski, 1910, No. 416, p. 2).

Considering work for the benefit of their fellow citizens as their main role, Polish technicians felt themselves an integral part of the entire world scientific community that created knowledge and embodied progress. The Fifth Congress discussed the involvement of the public and the dissemination and application of this knowledge increasingly outside the actual scientific environment. It can be concluded that in 1910 the technicians felt quite confident in contrast to the 1870s, when everything was just beginning. At that time, the administrative and political autonomy of Galicia was just being introduced, which made it possible to Polonize the Polytechnic. Along with the specialization of the institution, which took place in the 1870s, it launched the emergence of the technical community. In this light, the commemoration of Julian Zachariewicz (who died a year before the Fourth Congress in Krakow) at the Fifth Congress can be considered. This architect could rely only on his knowledge; due to the lack of alternatives, he had to be content with working on the railway first. Nevertheless, he became the creator of an architectural school, an innovator and an influential person. Therefore, it is not surprising that for the whole technical environmenthe became an example to follow. The time came when Polish technicians felt sufficiently professional specialists who could solve all engineering and scientific issues. Thus, it was no longer necessary to invite external, metropolitan experts from Vienna.

Related Places


Prosp. Shevchenka, 13 – former City Casino building

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Vul. Bandery, 12 – Lviv Polytechnic National University main building

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Vul. Lysenka, 23a – National Liberation Struggle Museum (former Riflemen Society building)

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Vul. Samchuka, 14 – National university's "Lviv Polytechnic" sports buiding

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Stanisław Badeni(1850-1912) — Land Marshall of Galicia
Władysław Bandurski (1865-1932) — assistant Bishop of Lviv
Gustaw Bisanz (1848-1925) — architect, architecture professor at the Polytechnic in Lviv, student and collegue to Julian Zachariewicz  
Wolff — most likely, Czesław Wolff (1885-1953), student of the Polytechnic in Lviv  (graduated in 1912), later an architect in Warsaw
Roman Dzieslewski (1863-1924) — professor, electric technician, dean of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Polytechnic in Lviv
Zygmunt Dobrzański (1876-1918) — architect in Lviv
Władysław Ekielski (1855-1927) — architect, professor at the Academy of Arts in Krakow, co-founder of the Architekt magazine and its editor-in-chief, architectural critic
Jan Nepomucen Franke(1846-1918) — mechanical engineer, professor at the Polytechic and its rector, Imperial and Royal Court Councillor
Roman Ingarden (1852-1926) — hydraulic engineer, Imperial and Royal Court Councillor, father of the famous philosopher Roman Ingarden
Jan Krause — associate professor at the Polytechnic in Lviv
Kazimierz Obrębowicz (1853-1913) — representative of the Warsaw Technical Society, a construction engineer, pioneer of heating and ventilation of buildings
Bronisław Pawlewski (1852-1917) — chemical engineer, professor at the Polytechnic in Lviv, its rector in 1909/1910
Wincenty Rawski (1850-1927)  — architect, head of the Polytechnic Society in Lviv
Friedrich Schmidt (1825-1891) — architect of German origin who became famous as an architect in Vienna, who authored the new City Hall on the Ringstrasse i.e., professor of the Polytechnic in Vienna, head of the Viennese Engineer and Architect Society
Zygmunt Sochacki (1877-1954) — mechanical engineer, professor at the Polytechnic in Lviv
Struszkiewicz — most likely, Jerzy Struszkiewicz (1883-1948), student of architecture at the Polytechnic in Lviv (1903-1908), future architect in Krakow and  president of the Association of Polish Architects (pol. SARP)
Leon Syroczyński(1844-1925) — professor of mining at the Polytechnic in Lviv, rector in 1904/1905
Teodor Talowski (1857-1910) — famous architect from Krakow, professor of the Polytechnic in Lviv (1902-1910)
Stanisław Żeleński (1873-1914) — architect and owner of the famous stained glass manufacture company in Krakow
Alfred Zachariewicz (1871-1937) — architect, son of Julian Zachariewicz
Julian Zachariewicz (1837-1898) — architect, professor of architecture at the Polytechnic in Lviv and its rector (1877/1878 and 1881/1882)



  1. Pamiętnik Piątego Zjazdu Techników Polskich we Lwowie w r. 1910, red. Stanisław Anczyc, (Lwów, 1911),
  2. Pamiętnik Pierwszego Zjazdu Techników Polskich w Krakowie (Kraków, 1884), 174
  3. Carl Stoeckl, Der Oesterreichische Ingenieur- und Architekten-Verein MDCCCIIL bis MDCCCIIC (Wien, 1899)
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  7. Witold Minkiewicz, "Z powodu I Wystawy Architektury we Lwowie", Czasopismo techniczne, 1910, Nr. 23, s. 355-359; Nr. 24, s. 384-386
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  12. "Kronika. Festyn Towarzystwa "Bratniej pomocy" słuchaczów politechniki...", Kurjer Lwowski, Nr. 416, s. 2
  13. " V Zjazd Techników Polskich", Kurjer Lwowski, 1910, Nr. 417, s. 2
  14. " V Zjazd Techników Polskich", Kurjer Lwowski, 1910, Nr. 418, s. 1
  15. " V Zjazd Techników Polskich", Kurjer Lwowski, 1910, Nr. 419, s. 1-2
  16. " V Zjazd Techników Polskich", Kurjer Lwowski, 1910, Nr. 420, s. 2
  17. "Technicy za kanalami", Kurjer Lwowski, 1910, Nr. 421, s. 1
  18. "Zamknięcie Zjazdu techników polskich", Kurjer Lwowski, 1910. Nr. 422, s. 1-3
By Olha Zarechnyuk, 2020
Translated by Andriy Masliukh

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