Polska / małopolskie
|Synagogues, prayer houses and others||Cemeteries||Sites of martyrdom||Judaica in museums||Andere|
|Province:||małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)|
|County:||brzeski / brzeski (before 1939)|
|Community:||Brzesko / Brzesko (before 1939)|
|Other names:||בריגעל [j. jidysz]; בז'סקו [j. hebrajski]; Brzesko [j. niemiecki]|
Marcin Sosik /
Brzesko – a city in southern Poland, Małopolska Province, Brzesko County. It is located 56 km southeast of Krakow and 299 km south of Warsaw. It lies on the Wiślickie Foothills, on the Uszwica river (a right-bank tributary of the Vistula River).
Jews began settling down in Brzesko probably from the moment the town of Brzeg was granted the municipal rights under the Magdeburg law by Queen Jadwiga in 1385. However, the development of Jewish settlement might be associated with the decree of King Zygmunt III Waza, dated 23 November, 1605 and binding until 1862, which banished the Jews from Bochnia. We are not in the possession of any detailed information as to the number of settlers or their social position, still, it can be presumed that their community was thriving and their population constantly increased, as towards the end of the 17th century a cemetery was established in Dolne Miasto (Lower Town) for the needs of the local kehilla. In the mid-18th century the Jewish community in Brzesko consisted of 181 people and it belonged to the kehilla of Olkusz. The 19th century was associated with further dramatic increase of the number of Jews in Brzesko, their main occupation being at that time commerce, inn-keeping and distillery business. At the turn of the 20th century, Jews constituted 2/3 of Brzesko inhabitants. They lived at the Market Square, Wapienna, Rynek Dolny and Zielona Streets. They had their own ritual abattoir, several houses of prayer, and a synagogue, which was destroyed by fire in 1904. The Jewish community also ran a hospital for the poor, which was mentioned in a resolution passed by the community authorities dated June 20, 1884. The Israeli Kehilla with a Registry of Vital Records covering a range of towns and villages within the county had its seat in Brzesko. It included: Biesiadki, Brzesko, Brzozowiec, Jastew, Porąbka Uszewska, Gnojnik, Gosprzydowa, Jadowniki, Jasień, Czchów, Szczepanów, Lewiniowa, Maszkienice, Mokrzyska, Okocim, Poręba Spytkowska, Przyborów, Sterkowiec, Uszew, Usznica, Wola Dębińska, Zawada Uszewska, and Żerków. In 1869 it was headed by Tobias Lipschitz and Bazalel Florenz.
From the beginning of its history there, commerce was the main occupation of the Jewish people. Apart from this, they also sold alcohol at inns, purchased animals and farming products and dealt with certain crafts. In 1939, 211 Jewish businesses were registered in Brzesko. In addition to manual workers, there were also members of Jewish intelligentsia, i.e.: judges, lawyers, doctors, and clerks. Brzesko was inhabited by wealthy Jews and poor Jews, the latter living in deplorable condition
The first mentions of Brzesko go back to the 13th century. Brzesko was a settlement near trade routes leading to Hungary and Russia. Its convenient location fostered the development of crafts. In 1385 the settlement was granted municipal rights. Brzesko was founded pursuant to the Magdeburg law by the Melsztyński family with the permission of Queen Jadwiga. In 1386 it was exempted from duties and toll, and consequently became attractive to new settlers who started arriving there in the 14th century from Germany. New citizens were soon assimilated and already in the 15th century German names appeared in the censuses very rarely. In that period its inhabitants made their living from farming, trade and crafts. The town developed steadily, and runaway peasants, hiding in considerable numbers in nearby woods and swamps, were the only danger for merchants traveling through Brzesko.
Initially the town belonged to a magnate family of the Leliwita dynasty from Tarnów. In the 16th century it passed into the hands of the Czerny family, wealthy nobility. The change of the owner resulted in its becoming a commercial and economical center, diminishing its political significance in the life of Malopolska (Lesser Poland) Region. During that period, the town was no different either as regards the size or its structure from other private and royal towns in this part of Poland.
Only “the Swedish Deluge” brought about the decline in the development of Brzesko. In 1655 the town was taken by the Swedes, and two years later it was ravaged by the Transylvanian army of Prince George II Rakoczy – an ally of the Swedes. The town, however, quickly regained its status. In the 18th century it was a center of small business and crafts; numerous guilds came into existence.
During the Partitions of Poland, Brzesko fell under Austrian rule. Its importance grew at that time. In 1867 the County of Brzesko was established as a result of a reform, and it incorporated also the town of Czchów. Basically, several factors influenced the development of the town. One of them was the erection of a brewery in nearby Okocim, in 1845, by Jan Goetl, Julian Kodrębski and Józef Neuman. Another factor that aided its development was the construction of a railway line of Kraków–Dębica–Lvov in 1856.
Despite the growth of the town's significance and a