The ethnic and religious landscape before World War II
Before World War II the Krosno Region was characterised by ethnic and religious diversity. Unlike other areas in the Polish Carpathian Mountains, this was the meeting place of Western (Lesser Poland), noticeable in the Jasło and Gorlice areas, Eastern (Russian), visible in the eastern part of the described area, and Southern influences (Hungarian and Slovakian), which can be seen across the entire area.
Polish Uplanders – Roman Catholic Poles – lived in the foothills and the western part of the Jasło-Krosno Basin, and in Jaśliska, Posada Jaśliska and Huta Polańska far up in the mountains.
Most of the mountain villages were inhabited by Lemkos – a Greek-Catholic Ukrainian ethnic group which settled there as early as the 15th century. The inter-war period saw numerous instances of them converting to the Orthodox Church, including entire villages in the Lemkos land, such as Tylawa. It was a sign of protest of the conservative population against Greek Catholic priests, who propagated Ukrainian nationalism and turned against traditions. The Catholic Church counteracted these tendencies by appointing a separate Apostolic Exarchate of Łemkowszczyzna, initially based in Rymanów Zdrój, in 1934.
In addition to Poles, the eastern part of the Jasło-Krosno Basin (east of the Besko-Sieniawa line) was inhabited by the so called Dolinians. It was a group of Ruthenian and Polish origin (and German and Vlach, to a limited extent).
The uppermost part of the Dynowskie Piedmont between Krosno and Strzyżów was inhabited by the so-called Zamishantsi. Like Dolinians, Zamishantsi was a Ruthenian (Ukrainian) ethnic group which followed the Greek Catholic rite.
Before World War II, Jews were the third largest population group in this area. In several cities of the region, including Dukla, Rymanów and Sanok, the percentage of Jews in the total population exceeded 40%.
Throughout centuries each of the three ethnic groups developed a distinctive, rich folk culture. Today, the most prominent remnants of that culture are the preserved sacral buildings: wooden and brick churches in villages inhabited by Poles for centuries, wooden Orthodox churches in areas home to Lemkos, Dolinians and Zamishantsi, and stone synagogues in towns populated by Jewish people.
The distribution of ethnographic groups until 1947 (according to J. Czajkowski).