Looking back from the 21st century the V4 (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) can be interpreted like a distant relative to the multinational monarchies, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Habsburg Monarchy, which dominated Central and Eastern Europe at the dawn of modern age. Forcedly united then, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have subsequently covered the same historical road through foreign dependence to real independence and successful integration with Western Europe, the journey which resulted in the common experience of multinational and multicultural co-existence. Except its final stage, this historical road and this experience have been also shared by Ukraine. Therefore to study, teach and take into account the V4 historical background is essential for Ukraine’s democratization efforts and its integration into the EU.
Lviv is one of the most suitable places to get to know Central Europe’s changing character intimately. Its archives, libraries and museums are filled up with primary sources covering the main turning points in modern Ukrainian and Polish history, the last form of the Habsburg Empire and the evolution of the Soviet system. Even now after the city has passed from Austria into Polish hands, and then from Polish to Soviet control to become a national center in newly independent Ukraine, the impact of its early belonging is readily apparent to any visitor. For while there can be no doubt that Ukrainians are predominant in the city today, the character of most of the city calls to mind old Poland and old Austria. Once inside the old city walls, the architecture, the public space and the urban lifestyle common to most cities of Central Europe pervade.
During more than 350 years of its existence, the University of Lviv was a preserver of cultural and scientific traditions, and has played a significant part in the cultural life not only of Ukrainians, but also Poles, Germans and Jews. At present, Central and East European studies bring together a team of more than 20 leading scholars from several History departments of which the Department of History of Central and Eastern Europe is the only one of its kind in Ukraine. Knowledge is mobilized through high-quality research activity of the staff and their intensive international contacts. This foundation enables an undergraduate curriculum for history distinguished by a wide range of courses focusing on the region, and creates unique opportunities for graduate and post-graduate specialization in Central European history and memory studies.