Drohobych is a district city located in the Lviv Oblast 60 km away from Lviv. The city has the population of 80,000. After World War II Drohobych was within the borders of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and, in 1991, became part of independent Ukraine.
The history of the city dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time, it was mainly famous for its production of salt which was sold in all of the then Central and Eastern Europe. After the incorporation of the Red Ruthenia into the Kingdom of Poland, settlers of various nationalities came to live in the city, among them Poles, Germans and Italians. The largest ethnic group, however, was composed of Jews who accounted for more than a half of all the city’s residents in the 19th century. Between 1842 and 1865, Jews built a monumental synagogue which is still standing and is regarded the largest one in Europe. The city’s fastest growth took place in the 19th century when an oil mining area was established in the nearby Boryslav, quickly turning into one of the most dynamic oil centres in the world. Also in the interwar period, when Drohobych became part of the Polish Republic for 20 years, the refining industry played a major role in the city. World War II brought two occupations onto the city. The Soviet occupation meant mass transportations deep into the USSR for the Polish population. During the Nazi occupation, on the other hand, the local Jewish population was exterminated. In Drohobych, there was a ghetto where some 10,000 people would come and go. Four hundred of them were executed by firing squads on the spot while others were deported to the camp in Bełżec. In this way, the world described in the Cinnamon Shops by Bruno Schulz, the most famous resident of Drohobych, disappeared forever. After 1945 many Poles left Drohobych for good. Some 2,000 Poles are still living in the city, most of them are grouped around St. Bartholomew’s Roman Catholic Church, and some of them are active in the local branch of the Association of Polish Culture of the Lviv Land. A Polish school has bee also operating in the city for a few years now.