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Bochnia

Polska / małopolskie

Synagogues, prayer houses and others Cemeteries Sites of martyrdom Judaica in museums Andere

Summary

Province:małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)
County:bocheński / bocheński (before 1939)
Community:Bochnia / Bochnia (before 1939)
Other names:Salzberg [j.niemiecki]
 
GPS:
49.9690° N / 20.4307° E
49°58'08" N / 20°25'50" E

Location

Tomasz Stanko, Grzegorz Wojna /

Panorama Bochni | Marcin Wygocki

Bochnia - a city in southern Poland, Małopolska Province, a county capital. It is located 42 km southeast of Krakow and 307 km southwest of Warsaw. It lies on the Raba river, in the valley of the Babica stream.

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History

Tomasz Stanko, Grzegorz Wojna

Zdjęcie zrobione przy granicy Czechosłowackiej. | nieznany

The Jewish community in Bochnia was established in the 15th century. It can be assumed that Jews settled in town shortly after the salt deposits had been discovered there (1248). The town books from 1407 mention for the first time a Jewish cloth trader called Jan. The next entry from 1445 is about three Jews who were beaten by several townsmen – it is probable that they owed them some money.

Towards the end of the 15th century, Jewish Street (the area of present Bracka Street) already existed in town, which is confirmed by sources from 1487.

The area populated by Jews extended gradually in the 16th century. They moved to the neighboring Kowalska, Szewska (now Kraszewskiego Street), Solna Góra and Trudna streets. In the course of time, Jews played a more and more important role in town and were active on the social scene which is confirmed by the notes in the alderman court books and the town council register .

At that time, the Jews dealt mostly with usury, trade and craft, owned houses and worked as clerks in the local salt mine. As early as in 1386, the Polish King Kazimierz Wielki, appointed a Jew called Lewka for the position of a mining official and put him in charge of the salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia. The Jew Abraham Niger rented salt mines in Bochnia and Wieliczka.

In the 15th century, a Jewish quarter, situated within the area encompassing Żydowska Street and the abovementioned Kowalska, Szewska (now Kraszewskiego Street), Solna Góra and Trudna Streets, was established. The division sprung from the contemporary church law, which ordered Jews to be separated from Christians and live in their own quarter surrounded by a moat, wall, or fence. Jewish life concentrated within the quarter where they built synagogues, hospitals, mikvahs and slaughterhouses.

The Jewish quarter in Bochnia was overcrowded with people and houses and it often happened that many families inhabited one building. It was also unfavorable that the Jewish district was next to the street of lepers, which was outside the town walls. That neighborhood combined with poor sanitation in the Jewish quarter posed a constant threat to the health of the inhabitants.

In 1555 the Bochnia Jews were granted a special privilege by King Zygmunt August, liberating them from municipal jurisdiction. They were only under the authority of the province go

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Local history

Tomasz Stanko, Grzegorz Wojna

Bochnia. Fragment rynku z pomnikiem króla Kazimierza Wielkiego. | nieznany

Bochnia is one of the oldest towns in Poland and was first mentioned in historical documents as early as 1198 when a patriarch from Jerusalem called Machus confirmed the delivery of evaporated salt from Bochnia to the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem monastery in Miechów.

In 1248 rock salt deposits had been discovered there, and three years later, Cistercians coming from Wąchock built the first shaft and made it possible to excavate the mineral on a larger scale. Considering Bochnia’s economic importance, Duke Bolesław Wstydliwy granted it town rights in 1253 (under Magdeburg Law). During the reign of King Kazimierz Wielki the town developed significantly (the Bochnia salt-mine was established, the salt castle was extended, town walls and the town hall were constructed). Then, in the second half of the 14th century, the first Jews began settling in the town. One of the most noted representatives of the Jewish circles was Lewko, a Jewish banker and personal agent of the Polish kings who managed the salt-mine in Bochnia and Wieliczka.

The 15th and the first half of the 16th centuries marked the town’s golden age characterized by a large number of trade transactions concluded (Bochnia was located on the important trade routes to Hungary and Ruthenia) both with Polish and foreign towns (e.g. Spis and Ruthenian towns). A parish school, associated with the Kraków Academy, existed in town since the end of the 14th century. The main mineral that contributed to the growth of the town was salt and therefore a saying <i>Poland is worth nothing without Bochnia and Wieliczka </i>caught on.

Since the second half of the 16th century, when the Bochnia salt-mine began to have trouble, the town was slowly losing its significance. Not only it ran into “mining” difficulties, but also it was haunted by fires, famine, epidemics, and invasions from abroad (e.g. by Swedish army in 1655).

Consequently, through the 17th and 18th centuries, Bochnia had to face an acute crisis that worsened as a result of the hostilities of the Northern War (1702) and the Bar Confederation (1768-1772).

Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, Bochnia found itself under the rule of Austro-Hungarian Empire and regained independence after 146 years, in 1918. One of the most tragic and bloody events that occurred in

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