The east Galician city of (Lemberg) Lviv had a lively coffeehouse culture during the Habsburg Empire. Poles, Jews and Ukrainians would gather over pots of coffee and tea. As the First World War approached, however, a growing sense of nationalism could also be felt in these otherwise convivial spaces.
Coffeehouse culture in Lemberg
Coffee first appeared in Europe in the 15th century and soon spread across the continent. Vienna, in particular, was famous for its coffeehouses in the 19th century. They were crowded social hubs, where locals and visitors read newspapers over coffee or tea, met friends, talked with strangers, or played cards, billiards, dominoes or chess. Some even moved out of their offices and into the coffee house; they worked from there, received their mail and discussed the latest news.1 
Other cities quickly followed Vienna's example; around 1800, almost every major city in the Habsburg Empire had similar coffeehouses. This was also the case in 
deu. Lemberg, pol. Lwów, eng. Lviv, rus. Lwow, rus. Львов, yid. Lemberg, yid. לעמבערג, ukr. Львів, ukr. L'viv

Lviv (German: Lemberg, Ukrainian: Львів, Polish: Lwów) is a city in western Ukraine in the oblast of the same name. With nearly 730,000 inhabitants (2015), Lviv is one of the largest cities in Ukraine. The city was part of Poland and Austria-Hungary for a long time.

Due to the war in Ukraine, it is possible that this information is no longer up to date.

, nowadays better known as Lviv in western Ukraine. The capital of the crown land of Galicia and Lodomeria was home to large Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian populations, and was a melting pot of many other cultures, too. The first coffeehouse to open here was the Vienna Café in 1829, which quickly grew in popularity. In 1841, the German traveler Johann Georg Kohl noted, “Lemberg has better and more elegant coffeehouses than Dresden and several other German cities of equal size.”2  
The more exclusive coffeehouses attracted mainly artists and the upper class – workers could usually only afford the cheaper pubs where grain coffee was served. In general, coffeehouses adapted to their clientele: Cafés frequented mainly by families were open during the day, while those catering to artists were often open late into the night. For the latter, these were important places where they could escape from their usually rather shabby living quarters. The price of a coffee bought them an environment and atmosphere in which they could work in peace – and in which many important literary works were created.

“In order to grasp this, one must understand that the Viennese coffeehouse is an institution of a special kind, unlike any other in the world. It is, in fact, a kind of democratic club, accessible to everyone for the price of a cheap cup of coffee, where any guest, in return for this small obolus, can sit for hours, discuss, write, play cards, receive his mail and, above all, consume an unlimited number of newspapers and magazines.”3

Around 1900, the most famous coffee houses in Lemberg were the Viennese and the Theater Café, which preserved the “old” Viennese style from the early 19th century. In the more modern American Café, on the other hand, a live band played every evening. Each coffeehouse had its own individual style and attracted different groups of people – for example, the Kristall was a meeting place for Polish politicians of left-wing parties. However, the most detailed historical descriptions that exist relate to the Schneider, Monopol and Abbazia (until 1910, the “Edison”) coffeehouses. Before the First World War, these were meeting places for Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish artists and intellectuals. While many of these people had initially worked towards maintaining a peaceful coexistence, as time went on, their own nationalities became more and more important to them, which proved to be a great source of potential conflict. The coffeehouse intellectuals took up these national conflicts and, at the same time, deepened the social, political and cultural rifts within the city through the work they produced here.
Café Schneider
One of the most famous coffeehouses of the time was Café Schneider, located at number 7 Ulica Akademicka (Academy Street), an avenue-like boulevard south of the historic old town. Opened in 1879, it was, according to the liberal Polish-language daily Kurjer Lwowski (Lviv Courier) in 1900, “currently fashionable.”4  The café offered nearly 100 national and international newspapers every day and had three billiard tables. Beginning in March 1912, major remodeling of the building took place, resulting in an interim closure.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly Polish artists met here. However, local organizations such as the Lemberg bicycle club and the Lemberg photography society used the premises for their meetings as well. The café was a hub for social actions too – donations for Polish emigrants from Prussia were collected here. The most important guests were also accommodated in other ways: Being a popular venue for Polish officers, who were not exactly fond of the German Reich, in 1901, the new owner Jakób Rollauer decided to cancel the café’s subscription to all Berlin newspapers.
By 1897, the Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko had also become a frequent visitor to the café. Franko, who published in Ukrainian, Polish and German, was writing for the Kurjer Lwowski at this time. Since the editorial office was nearby, the staff regularly spent their breaks here. They even had a room reserved especially for them. Here Franko had occasional meetings with the Polish writer Jan Kasprowicz – who was also a friend and colleague at the Kurjer – and Vasyl' Ščurats, a Ukrainian professor of literature. They not only engaged in long discussions, but also corrected each other's latest texts. From time to time, other Polish writers also took part in these debates. Apart from Kasprowicz, however, very few Polish intellectuals took an interest in Ukrainian literature and culture, which is why Franko usually sat apart from his colleagues.
This was also true in a figurative sense, not least with regard to the political positions the men represented: Franko was a staunch socialist during this period and, as a Ukrainian, wrote for an audience that wished for the various nationalities of Galicia to coexist peacefully. However, from the 1890s onward – much to the chagrin of Franko and the editorial staff of the Kurjer Lwowski – national tendencies and antagonisms began to dominate. After he publicly protested that the local Polish elites, while demanding more freedoms from the government in Vienna, at the same time denied similar rights and freedoms to the Ukrainians living in the city and region, Franko had to leave the newspaper. In the years to come, he also adopted an increasingly nationalistic position and identified first and foremost as a Ukrainian – as a result of which he and Jan Kasprowicz not only parted ways, but Franko also avoided Café Schneider and broke off contact with his former colleagues.
However, the editorial staff of the Kurjer were not the only ones with special rights at Café Schneider; the same applied to the editorial staff of the nationalist newspaper Słowo Polskie (The Polish Word). Kasprowicz, who continued to visit the café daily, also wrote for the Słowo. When the newspaper’s editorial staff developed an enthusiasm for playing dominoes, it was teasingly referred to as the “Club of Dominicans.” With increasing radicalization, however, tensions grew among the editors of both newspapers, who gave expression to these conflicts in the articles they published.
Nevertheless, “the Schneider” was by no means the undisputed, sole meeting place of the Polish-language press. On the contrary, another Polish newspaper, the Goniec Polski (Polish Messenger), made every effort to portray the coffeehouse in as bad a light as possible. For its editors, the café was a place of drunkenness and immoral behavior, which can be seen reflected in the following description of its clientele: “Long-haired poets, bearded painters, gray-haired reviewers, all drinking as if there were no tomorrow.”5 
Café Monopol
Another well-known coffeehouse at the beginning of the 20th century was Café Monopol. Located at number eight Mariánské Square or Plac Mariacki, today's Mickiewicz Square (Ploshcha Mitskevycha), it was one of the best addresses in the city, at the end of a large boulevard on the southwestern edge of the old town. 
Compared to Café Schneider, the Monopol existed for a rather short time (1902-1912), but occupied an important place in the lives of its regulars. The interior was not as luxurious as other coffeehouses, but its rooms were warm and cozy, the air thick with cigarette smoke. It was furnished “according to the European model,” offered a large number of newspapers, three billiard tables, and stayed open until 3am. The atmosphere was informal, though pastimes such as card playing were less common than in other cafés.
The crowd was also much more eclectic. Its regulars included, besides older gentlemen, liberal Polish politicians, military men, but also artists. It was also popular with language-learning groups such as the Polish-Italian, Polish-Hungarian or Polish-Czech clubs. Even the Lemberg stamp collectors came here to trade their collections. 
After spending his afternoons first in the Schneider and later in the Viennese café, Ivan Franko also regularly visited the Monopol. The former staunch socialist had become the Ukrainian national poet, and now wrote for a predominantly Ukrainian audience. Young Ukrainian writers and students regularly dropped by to seek his advice or to ask his opinion on their own works. 
During this period, the Monopol became a meeting place for Ukrainian artists and intellectuals, such as the modernist writers of the “Young Muse” “Young Muse” The Young Muse – ukr. Молода муза (Moloda musa) – was a modernist literary group founded in 1906 and existing until 1909. Important representatives and founding members included Bohdan Lepkyj (1872–1941), Petro Karmanskyj (1878–1956) and Wassyl Patschowskyj (1878–1942). . The members of the Ukrainian Scientific Ševčenko Society Scientific Ševčenko Society The Shevčenko Scientific Society is the oldest scientific society in Ukraine and was named after national poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861). Founded in 1873, it was initially dedicated to the promotion and study of Ukrainian language and literature, but was later expanded to include a historical-philosophical and a mathematical-medical-scientific section, following the example of other European academies and societies. also came here often. Volodymyr Dorošenko, a Ukrainian student from St. Petersburg, described the meetings at the Monopol as follows:

“Franko would come here for coffee and newspapers. Besides him, [Mychailo] Hruševskyj, [Volodymyr] Hnatiuk, [Fedir] Vovk and other scientists with close ties to the Scientific Ševčenko Society would meet here. They had a separate table for themselves and could gather to enjoy a rest from work, read the latest news and have a good chat. And if you wanted to meet with one of them, you could find the person you were looking for here in the afternoon around five o'clock, without having to go to their office or home.”6

Café Abbazia
Like their Polish and Ukrainian counterparts, Lembergs’s Jewish artists and intellectuals also frequented most of the city’s well-known coffeehouses. For them in particular, the open atmosphere of the cafés offered a place where they could participate in the social life and debates of the time, independent of (at least any conspicuous) religious or confessional barriers. For this reason, cafés in general had an important influence on the development of a modern and secular Jewish culture that distinguished itself from traditional Judaism without abandoning its Jewish identity. 
The cafés that were almost exclusively frequented by a Jewish clientele were known for their lively atmosphere. One of them, the Edison (renamed Abbazia in 1910/11), was located at number 33 Ulica Karola Ludwika (Karl Ludwig Street), the magnificent boulevard that ran along the western side of the old town, at the southeastern end of which, a few hundred meters away, was the Monopol. It was opened around 1901 and existed until the 1920s, but never recovered economically after it was destroyed by Polish soldiers in a pogrom against the Jewish population of Lviv in 1918.
The Jewish author Melech Rawitsch describes the clientele as follows:

“There were beauties with deep-cut necklines, Jewish actresses who performed at the Yiddish Gimpel Theater, [...] students from the yeshiva with their long beards who came for a scientific discussion with Reb Gershom Bader, [...] and loafers, [...] whose mission it was to read newspapers all day until 3am.”7 

People played cards, chess or tarot – as in the other coffeehouses of the city. The Abbazia also offered live music – the singer and composer Khone Wolfsthal, who was known throughout the country, even had a permanent job here. 
In addition, the café played an important role in the literary life of Yiddish and Hebrew-speaking writers and intellectuals. Gershom Bader, a Zionist activist and founder of several Hebrew and Yiddish newspapers and magazines, who took on the role of mentor to many a younger writer, was a regular guest. The Yiddish newspapers, whose articles were produced here and in other cafés, reached large sections of the Jewish population of Galicia and contributed to their politicization and to the modernization of Jewish culture in Galicia. 
As in the other cafés, many people came here primarily to relax after work. Melech Rawitsch recalls, “My greatest dream was to do nothing... to sip a coffee, bite into a croissant, which here at Cafe Abbazia were called 'Kipferl,' and just gaze out of the big window...”8 His peace and quiet, however, probably never lasted long – too many acquaintances and friends took the opportunity to seek him out here for a chat, bringing him back into the hustle and bustle of the coffeehouse.
Centers of cultural and intellectual life
In the years prior to the First World War, Lemberg's coffeehouses were well frequented, especially by artists and intellectuals – on whose work they had a visible influence. However, the situation in the coffeehouses also reflected the relations between the various the city’s various population groups. Although they offered a space in which the different groups could come into contact with each other, interactions often took place only out of necessity, and cultural and linguistic boundaries were also reflected here – between the individual cafés, but often even in the way different groups would gather in separate spaces within the same establishment.
In this respect, the coffeehouses in Lemberg did not differ from those in the rest of Europe, for example, in Prague. Usually there were separate rooms for different purposes, for playing billiards, undisturbed reading, or for social card playing, as well as rooms explicitly reserved for individual groups and societies. And even when people met in the main room, they were still usually divided by an invisible boundary that seemed to run through the café. Accordingly, guests usually knew with whom they could interact and with whom they could not; there was no truly open, free interaction among the various groups.
In the era of growing nationalism, this division became ever greater. Social and cultural conflicts were occasionally projected onto the city's gastronomy scene, especially during the First World War. One example took place in 1917, when Wasylewicz, a clergyman, demanded that the cashier at a Polish-run restaurant speak to him in Ukrainian. When she could not, he left. Although he returned to pay his bill, he called for a boycott of the restaurant in the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrajins'ke Slovo (Ukrainian Word). The owner then described these accusations in the Kurjer Lvovsky as “unfounded questionings of the Polish character of the city of Lviv, currently being voiced by Ukrainians.”9 
Nevertheless, everyday life in the coffeehouse was mostly calm and free of conflict. After all, that was precisely the goal of most who came here: to enjoy a little entertainment and company away from the worries of their day-to-day lives.
English translation: William Connor

Siehe auch