GB No. 3(18)/95


Rebulit church in Klimkówka

The Beskid Niski has been a special place for many people. In the 60's the place aroused the interest of hydraulic engineers and, consequently, a plan for a dam was developed. In spring 1983 a precious monument of Lemkos culture, the Eastern Orthodox church in Klimkówka was blown up.

In this part of the Carpathians most of the churches share a similar kind of construction. Experts can distinguish a few types of them but they are mainly wooden buildings consisting of three parts. The church in Gładyszów, under influence of the Huculi tradition, and the demolished shrine in Klimkówka were the only exceptions.

The style of the Klimkówka church could not be defined accurately because of its cupolas and layout which are not typical of this region.
The Ropa river below the dam

At the beginning of the 20th c. an old wooden church in Klimkówka was burnt. In 1914, thanks to the combined efforts of Rev. Jan Durkot and the parishioners, a new brick five-cupola church was built to replace the old one. The atmosphere accompanying the building of the shrine was described in the "Nasze Słowo" : people sacrificing their possessions to realise the goal, which showed how much the church meant to them.

Włodzimierz Mokry
"Od cerkwi do ko¶cioła"
"Magury 86"

Some people did not consider the church a monument as it dated back to 1914. But it is not only age that determines the value of a building. At the turn of the 19th century people in Europe became aware of their national identity, as did the Lemko people. Art and architecture are means to express identity. In Eastern Christianity the artistic idea is based on a complex metaphor regarding the relations between God, man and the universe.

The church in Klimkówka's meaning was something more than its artistic value.

In the course of history the culture originating from Byzantine base gradually yielded to Western influence. Lemkos, opposing the process of assimilation, turned to the old Ruthenian roots, for which they had to pay dearly. The church in Klimkówka was a symbol of their national identity through looking back to the eastern tradition. The unique cupolas of the shrine marked the border between Roman and Byzantine influences.

The trouble is that as large an enterprise as the Regional Water Management in Kraków needs financial means to survive. It looks for places suitable for big schemes and then fabricates justification for them (drought, floods, no place for yachting, energy crisis). The next step is drawing money from the Ministry of Natural Protection.

Dietrich L. Schneider
"Memento dla Klimkówki"
"Grasshopper" 2/94

The first bulldozer arrived to Klimkówka in April 1975. (...) Within 20 years of the construction process the dam had consumed 75 000 tons of concrete (21 000 tons of cement), 63 000 tons of sand, 123 000 tons of aggregate, 1 300 000 of reinforcing steel as well as 50 000 m2 of planking.

Grażyna Lubińska
"Niejedna zapora w życiu"
"Gazeta w Krakowie" 5th February 1994

The church was not even a hundred years old. It witnessed a lot since the time of its construction: the First World War when Lemkos were persecuted by Austrians, proclamation of the Lemko Republic in nearby U¶ć Ruski, the Second World War and the post-war expulsions.

Events, national identity and monuments mean history and culture. Culture of a given time and place. Of a given community, village, valley, mountain range, region. Although Lemko country twelve years ago was not the same as a century ago, the Klimkówka church was tere all the same. The new shrine built using the remains of the old one is a totally different church. The value of a monument depends also on its background and the old Klimkówka church composed a unity with the local culture, history of the region as well as with the wooded hills surrounding the valley of the river Ropa.

We used to have a valley with a shrine in the heart of the green Beskid mountains, where two historic region of Europe meet. And it all disappeared, sacrificed to a great communist enterprise, being completed in the post communist Poland.

Tomasz Poller

The history of the Klimkówka residents is a part of history of Ruthenian uplanders inhabiting the lands from Sącz region to Czarnohora. The culture of Lemkos, Bojkos, Huculs and other smaller ethnic groups now belongs to the past. The people, deeply bound with the surrounding nature, lived through centuries with a sense of freedom. Wars or nationalism were brought to their villages from outside. picture

After the Second World War the new political system came to the region. In communist Poland the Lemko community was dispersed and the culture of Bojkos destroyed almost completely. Bojkos and Huculs, living in the Eastern Carpathians incorporated to the USSR, were forced to become workers in factories and state farming works. Monuments were devastated intentionally. Churches were burned or turned into stores. For instance in the Polish part of the region out of 600 monuments one half was destroyed. The culture of the Easter Carpathian uplanders was to be forgotten.

In communist Poland the ethnic diversity was not accepted and in such circumstances, in the 80's, the church in Klimkówka ceased to exist.

translated by
Małgorzata Maciejewska

reprinted from Zielone Brygady 1/95

GB No. 3(18)/95 | Contents