Franciszek Strzałko (1904 Żywotówka, Ukrain – 1993 London, England) – art historian, researcher of wooden architecture. In the thirties of the twentieth century he made photographic and descriptive documentation of wooden monuments in the then southern Poland (Krakow, Lviv, Stanisławów and Silesia voivodships) and beyond its borders (Silesia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania). The documentation prepared by Franciszek Strzałka is one of the most valuable photographic documentation devoted to wooden architecture, first of all sacral (Catholic and Orthodox churches), made during the interwar period. In many cases, the collection is invaluable because it is the only source of knowledge about the monuments that have not been preserved or have been seriously modified. The iconographic documents contained in it are often the only (original) images of specific elements of the cultural heritage of Central Europe. Most of them appear to be in a state that differs from today’s, and usually they are a unique documentation of objects that are no longer existing.
The choice of the leading theme for the mini gallery of unpreserved Greek-Catholic churches was dictated by the desire to show this area of the output of the inhabitants from broadly understood Galicia, which mostly ceased to exist. In the 1930s, a political action carried out by the government authorities was aimed at polonizing the areas of the Bug River. One of the activities was aimed at weakening the influence of the Orthodox Church, on the other hand, of the Greek Catholic Church related to the Ukrainian national movement. As a result of these activities many wooden temples were destroyed. In the following years, battles fought from 1939 to 1945 reduced the number of existing temples. Also, in the 1940s, the change of the authorities in the Socialist Republic of Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Poland to clearly anti-religious led to further losses in the material cultural heritage. Also, the commencement of large migration and resettlement movements by state authorities resulted in the separation of the faithful resettled several hundred kilometers away from the temples. Often left under the care of older people, the objects radually collapsed. The photographs presented in the context of historical and artistic research by the graduate of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Franciszek Strzałka, are a silent but very telling testimony to the rich culture created by the multiethnic and multi-enominational legendary Galicia. For the first time, photographs of objects that were not in the luck to be accurately documented may be one of the starting points for the attempts to reconstruct the consciousness of contemporary inhabitants of this region and its cultural diversity.