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Chapter 7 of Sweet Darusya refers to "Galacian tobacco" being smuggled between Poland and Ukraine. What exactly was this, and what was the significance of it being specifically that kind of tobacco?

I do recall from Zinky Boys that Soviet citizens typically placed a high premium on certain kinds of luxury goods, especially Western goods that were hard to acquire; was that what was going on here?

Note: I'm listening to the audiobook version, so I'm not 100% sure that I have the spelling correct. Please feel free to correct me if I have that wrong.

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  • haha I misread this as "tabasco" and was intrigued as to what "Galacian tabasco" might be...
    – Michael
    Feb 20, 2023 at 17:03

3 Answers 3

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According to the original text in Ukrainian:

  • it was clearly incoming smuggling;
  • the author seems to deliberately use the older Roman name of Spanish Galicia — probably, to avoid the possible confusion with the name of Ukrainian region.

Original text:

Але минає день-другий - і просвистить з того на цей бік камінь від польського постового із прив'язаним запашним ґаліцейським тютюном […]

A vague translation:

And one or two days pass — and whizzes from that [side] to this side a stone from a Polish [border] guard with attached odorous Gallaecian tobacco […]

Later in the paragraph, the author talks about dried plums that go in return.

Using caps below as not every font would show the difference between Г /h/ and Ґ /g/ (with a hook).

In Ukrainian, Galicia is ГАЛИЧИНА (/halychyna/);
The adjective is ГАЛИЦЬКИЙ (/halytsʲkyj/).

The author uses ҐАЛІЦЕЯ (/galitseja/)
and the adjective ҐАЛІЦЕЙСЬКИЙ (/galitseysʲkyj/)


Western goods were especially valued at all times under the Russian/Sovjet rule. Considering the total poverty, smuggling itself was a huge benefit for the populace living near the border with the free world.

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  • Google, Bing, and Yandex all refuse to give any sensible results for ҐАЛІЦЕЯ. In the few results they do give the Ґ is replaced with Г. Some of the results use Ґаліція, which then yields the most output when searched for, so I suppose your Е is mistaken.
    – Ruslan
    Feb 22, 2023 at 10:03
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I note there are two regions in Europe which are spelled "Galicia" in English. One is the northwest corner of Spain, the other a region in modern Poland and Ukraine. Rand al'Thor mentions the Spanish Galicia, but if any tobacco was grown in the other Galicia it would be easier to smuggle in eastern Europe.

Here is a link to a map showing the borders of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria compared to modern borders.

Earlier use of the geographic name of Halice or Galicia in eastern Europe may have covered somewhat different areas.

This map of tobacco growing indicates that some might be grown in the Galicia in eastern Europe.

This map shows that Poland and Ukraine are tobacco-producing countries.

Tobacco from different regions often has, or is believed to have, different properties making it more or less desirable. And smugglers who don't pay import taxes can sell tobacco cheaper.

Tobacco grown in the former Kingdom of Galica & Lodomeria would have a shorter distance to be smuggled between Poland and Ukraine. Rand al'Thor's answer shows that there was a lot of smuggling of tobacco from Galicia in Spain.

So I don't know where the smuggled Galician tobacco comes from in Sweet Darusya, and seems like an open question to me.

Note: Emperor Charles VI (d.1740) claimed so many kingdoms that his list included both kingdoms of Galicia.

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  • Sounds like the black 'Machorka' smoked in Sven Hassel etc 'novels'. Feb 22, 2023 at 10:43
  • The Eastern-european Galicia you mention was also named before WWI "subcarpathian Galacia" (beyond Carpathian mountain range), a piece of Austro-Hungarian Empire that was under Austrian rule. Feb 22, 2023 at 21:53
  • It's worth noting that in the part of the book I just finished listening to, Darusya's father was visited by partisans who stated that they were mostly active in Galicia. Feb 24, 2023 at 3:27

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