The Economic Situation of Student Youth

ID: 135
Economic hardship and lack of housing was quite typical of the student life in interwar Lviv. A number of mutual aid organizations operated in the city.



Vul. Horbachevskoho, 18 – university building

Show full description

Anhelovycha str. 28 - Jewish Academic House


Vul. Hertsena, 07 – Lviv Ivan Franko National University's dormitory


Kotsiubynskoho str. 21


Vul. Studentska, 2 – Lviv Medical University building


Josyfa Slipoho str. 7


Nekrasova str. 35 — Lviv Regional Clinical Hospital


Drahomanova str. 32 - Residential Building

Arriving to study in Lviv, students faced a lot of economic problems. Difficulties concerning the financial situation were usual for young people of all nationalities. In the Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish university press, impressive information on the material situation of Lviv students could be found. Quite a lot of them complained about problems such as malnutrition or lack of clothing. In the first half of the 1930s, almost 20% of the Jan Kazimierz University students maintained themselves on their own earnings, approximately 9.5% received scholarships. The rest had to count on the help of the family. Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky drew attention to the fact that many students, even after graduation from the university, could not find an appropriate job.

According to the Jan Kazimierz University’s Senate Commission, one of the most serious barriers, which complicated the beginning of the university studies for young people who had finished high schools, was "living in crowded conditions and difficulties with finding an accommodation." According to statistics, in 1933/1934 30.6% of all students in Lviv educational institutions lived in the city permanently (in their homes with their families), 30% rented rooms, 22.9% lived in dormitories, and 16.5% used to come for lectures and practical classes from the country. Students arriving in Lviv could settle in one of the available dormitories on Lozińskiego (now Hertsena) street 7, Sobińskiego (now Yosyfa Slipoho) street 7, Św. Terezy (now Anhelovycha) street 28 (the so-called Jewish Academic House), Supińskiego (now Kotsiubynskoho) street 21 (the so-called Ukrainian Academic House), Pijarów (now Nekrasova) street, Sołodowa street, Mochnackiego (now Drahomanova) street. Finding a place in a dormitory was not always a simple task. Petro Babchyshyn, who, while studying at the Jan Kazimierz University in the early 1920s, lived on Lozińskiego street, recalled that a priority in getting a room in the dormitory was reserved for those who had lost several years of studying as a result of hostilities, who had volunteered to join the army in 1918-1920 and had one year of study registered. As a rule, each house was reserved for representatives of a specific nationality. The only dormitory which hosted the Poles, Jews and Ukrainians together was the dormitory belonging to the Zjednoczenie organization and located on Sobińskiego (now Yosyfa Slipoho) street 7. In view of the difficult housing situation, a significant part of the young people settled in rented rooms (popularly called “stations”), which were often located in outlying areas such as Holosko, Kryvchytsi, Zamarstyniv, Znesinnia, Levandivka, and Pasiky. In return for staying at the "station," many students gave private lessons to the children of the house owners.

The university body responsible for helping students was the already mentioned Senate Commission for Youth Affairs. The commission provided students with loans for paying tuition and rent, for buying clothes or shoes. Usually, priority in the use of such assistance belonged to older  and more diligent students. The Commission did not divide students by national characteristics, but demanded that their applications be made with recommendations from the relevant mutual assistance societies functioning in the institution. Due to the difficult situation of youth at the Jan Kazimierz University, there were university associations organizing the provision of material aid to the students. The largest and most reputable union active at the University was the Society of Brotherly Aid for the Jan Kazimierz University Students. In addition to this organization, assistance was also offered by the Society for the Mutual Aid of Physicians at the Jan Kazimierz University, the Provincial Circles, and the Circle of Female Students. The mentioned societies, for example, gained money by organizing entertainment and thematic evenings and then provided students with loans from the collected funds; they also helped students to find work. The Brotherly Aid had its own kitchen and two tea-houses: on Lozińskiego street and in the University building. In 1925, one had to pay 0.45 zlotys for a lunch and 0.25 zlotys for a supper at the student's kitchen.

In the early 1920s, Ukrainian students were supported, in the framework of mutual aid, by an organization called Academic Aid and headed by Mykhaylo Matchak. Among other organizations offering assistance to Ukrainian students, there were the Student Community, the Legal Community, the Medical Community, the Society "Druh" (with Russophile orientation). After the dissolution of the Student Community in 1929, part of the students continued their activities in the Society of Education Supporters, which also engaged in mutual assistance. The Society took care of the dormitory on Supińskiego (now Kotsiubynskoho) street and organized a student’s kitchen where students were hired.

Jewish young people were supported by the Society of Graduates (pol. Towarzystwo Rygoryzantów) and the Bonfire (pol. Ognisko). During the interwar period, three other organizations of a socio-academic profile, namely the Jewish Law Students Society, the Jewish Physicians Society and the Society of Jewish Students of Philosophy were working in the area of mutual assistance among Jewish students at the Jan Kazimierz University. In 1926, the Union for the Aid to Jewish students in Poland, the Auxilium Academicum Judaicum, was created in Lviv, with a branch in eastern Malopolska. The task of the union was to provide young people with permanent and temporary material assistance. The organization also provided assistance to students who studied abroad. Donations for the implementation of these goals were received from private individuals and companies. In 1929, the chairman of the society was Adolf Schorr and the deputy chairman was Emil Sommerstein.

At the turn of the 1930s, the management of the University's Brotherly Aid fell into the hands of nationalist students. In the first half of the 1930s, the organization associated the difficult situation of young people with the general economic crisis. The appalling economic condition of the students was used to propagate nationalist and anti-Semitic campaigns (it was said, for example, that Jewish young people are more likely to graduate than Polish, since they have better material resources). The Brotherly Aid became less popular when some university environments began to claim the organization responsible for the problem of high tuition fees still being actual. It should be emphasized that in the mid-1930s young people studying at the Jan Kazimierz University were obliged to pay 50 zlotys on enrollment (the following payment, 100 zlotys, was charged at the beginning of the second trimester). Apart from that, students had to pay for exams and to make various labour contributions. The one who did not pay on time did not receive a record called nomen receptum in the student's ticket. The fact that the problem was serious was evidenced by numerous requests addressed to the Senate Commission, in which young people applied for a loan to pay for their studies. One of the students who made such a request in 1933 was a law student and a resident of the dormitory on Pijarów (now Nekrasova) street 35, Jan Tadla. He explained that due to the lack of finance he was threatened with loosing a year of study. The loans provided by the Senate Commission did not always meet expectations, as evidenced by the fact that Tadla received only 15 zlotys. Another student, Jerzy Marszycki, a resident of the dormitory on Supińskiego (now Kotsiubynskoho) street 21, indicated that his parents had died and his monthly earnings for tutoring totaled 20 zlotys. Besides a loan for tuition, Marszycki asked for means to pay for a master's degree exam in zoogeography.

In November 1935, Lviv high school students gathered at a conference that condemned the activities of the Brotherly Aids run by the All-Polish Youth. The demand was for a campaign to reduce the university fee to the amount that was before 1932, to increase the number of scholarships, loans and vacation practices, as well as that of subsidies for mutual aid societies. Attention was drawn to the fact that the action initiated by poor university youth should be conducted jointly, without national or political divisions. As a result, in the spring of 1936, university youth organized a series of protest actions against high university fees, urging wide student circles not to make subsequent payments for tuition. Due to high fees, many students were forced to interrupt their university studies.



1. Державний архів Львівської області (ДАЛО) 26/14/1685:4в
2. ДАЛО 26/14/667: 14-16
3. ДАЛО 26/17/35:29
4. ДАЛО 26/17/40:90
5. ДАЛО 26/17/57:4-6
6. Центральний державний історичний архів України у Львові (ЦДІАЛ) 766/1/3:1
7. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich we Wrocławiu, sygn. 15336/II 2: Piotr Babczyszyn, Od Gniezny do Seretu po Łynę i Nysę. Wspomnienia, T. 2: 1914-1939, 238.
8. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich we Wrocławiu, sygn. 15590/II: Józef Zieliński, Z dziejów lwowskiej lewicy akademickiej w latach 1933 – 1938: wspomnienia, 24
9. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich we Wrocławiu, sygn. 17258/II: Lew Kaltenbergh, Ludzie i lata. Opowieść o wspomnieniach. Wspomnienia dotyczące literacko-kulturalnego środowiska Lwowa w okresie międzywojennym, 11-13
10. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich we Wrocławiu, sygn. 13509/III: Ulotki Uniwersytetu Jana Kazimierza i Politechniki Lwowskiej oraz papiery różne z lat 1931 – 1939, k. 109, 135.
11. J. Batycka, Stosunki mieszkaniowe młodzieży akademickiej we Lwowie z końcem roku akademickiego 1933-1934, (Warszawa, 1935), 3
12. Ekspres Akademicki: V Tydzień Akademika. Jednodniówka, (Lwów, 1926), 7. (доступ: 22.03.2018)
13. L. Guziur, "Istota i zadania akademickich kół prowincjonalnych", Myśl Akademicka. Miesięcznik literacko-naukowy i sprawozdawczy, 1926, №2, 22-23
14. "J. E. Ks. Metropolita ukraiński Szeptyćkyj o młodzieży ukraińskiej", Biuletyn polsko-ukraiński, 1933, №3, 43-44
15. Kazimierz Rędziński, "Studenci żydowscy we Lwowie w latach 1918-1939", Prace Naukowe Akademii im. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie. Pedagogika, t. XXXV, 2016, 581-601
16. Kazimierz Rędziński, IzabelaWrona-Meryk, "Żydowskie Stowarzyszenia Studenckie we Lwowie (1890-1918)", Prace Naukowe Akademii im. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie. Pedagogika, t. XXII, 2013, 556-557
17. Adolf Schorr, "Listy, które nas doszły", Nasz Tydzień. Jednodniówka drugiego Tygodnia akademika żydowskiego w Małopolsce Wschodniej, (Lwów 11 stycznia 1931), 3
18. Emil Sommerstein, "Dajcie odpowiedź", Nasz Tydzień. Jednodniówka drugiego Tygodnia akademika żydowskiego w Małopolsce Wschodniej, (Lwów 11 stycznia 1931), 1
19. Sprawozdanie komisji Senatu Akademickiego Uniwersytetu Jana Kazimierza dla spraw młodzieży za rok szkolny1925/1926, (Lwów, 1928), 7, 11
20. Halina Wittlinowa, Atlas szkolnictwa wyższego, (Warszawa, 1937), 31
21. Jadwiga Złotorzycka, "Szkice z życia Uniwersytetu Jana Kazimierza we Lwowie", Analecta. Studia i materiały z dziejów nauki, 2000, №1, 251.
22. "Звіт з діяльности виділу Т-ва Прихильників Освіти у Львові за час від 1 січня 1933 р. до 31 грудня 1933 р.", Студентський шлях, 1934, №№7-8, 240-241
23. С. Мілянич, "Життя і праца українського студенства", Студенський шлях, 1931, №№1-2, 16-20.

Written by Ewa Bukowska-Marczak
Scientific editing by Vasyl Rasevych
Translated from Polish by Myroslava Kit
Translated from Ukrainian by Andriy Maslyukh