I wanted to arrive at the hotel and go to bed. Finally, I entered the room, stretched out on the bed and turned on PBS. The public network was broadcasting “Finding Your Roots,” the show where a Harvard researcher explores the genealogy of well-known people. This week, the show uncovered the ancestors of Larry David, Seinfeld’s co-creator, as well as those of Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist senator who came close to the presidency of the United States. The case is that, among other surprises, these two men had roots in the Kingdom of Galicia—no, not Spain’s Kingdom of Galicia, but the one in Eastern Europe, the one that poured into the melting pot of the United States so many immigrants and refugees towards the end of the nineteenth century.
The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria included several territories in modern-day Poland and eastern Ukraine. The topic quickly became the focus of my attention. When I name Galicia in the US, there is always someone who asks me whether I am from Poland. I simply respond that I am from the other one, the one on the northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. But this week, in my attempt to detach myself from a deafening reality filled with shootings and brutality on both sides of the pond, I thought that learning a bit more about this homonymous land would not be a bad thing.
I read about the two kingdoms and about the two republics as well: the Galician Soviet Socialist Republic that existed for a few months during the Polish-Soviet war of 1920 and the Galician Republic of 1931. Yes, the Galicia that’s mine.
I landed on Fernando Arrizado’s article for the Galician publication Vieiros that synthesizes in an exemplary way our first republic, the one that started in Orense on June 25, 1931, that was announced in Santiago de Compostela on the 27, and that lasted only a few hours.
And then I connected again with reality, and impotence invaded my body.