Polska / małopolskie
|Synagogues, prayer houses and others||Cemeteries||Sites of martyrdom||Judaica in museums||Andere|
|Province:||małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)|
|County:||krakowski grodzki / krakowski grodzki (before 1939)|
|Community:||Kraków / Kraków (before 1939)|
|Other names:||Krakau [j.niemiecki]|
Anna Wilk /
Kraków (Cracow) – a city in southern Poland, Małopolska Province, Kraków County. It is located 295 km southwest of Warsaw. It lies on both banks of the Vistula River, at the peripheries of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, the Nidziańska Syncline, the Brama Krakowska and Sandomierz Valley.
The exact date of Jews settling in Kraków is difficult to determine. Based on sources from 1028 mentioning two Jewish merchants travelling towards Ruthenia and offering their wares to the Jewish community council in Kraków, one may assume that a Jewish presence in Kraków extends back to as early as the first half of the 11th century.
At the end of the 11th century, Prague was hit by a wave of pogroms provoked by the crusaders. The Bohemian chronicler, Cosmas of Prague, stated that some of the Jews were forced to convert to Christianity while the rest fled Hungary and Poland. Even though the name “Kraków” is not mentioned, one may suspect that most of the refugees have chosen this particular city as a destination because living conditions were relatively safe (in addition to being the place of residence of the ruler, the city was notable for being located away from the route frequented by crusaders).
The first mention of a Jewish presence in Kraków was in the chronicle of Wincenty Kadłubek (also known as Vincentius de Cracovia). The chronicler noted that during the reign of Mieszko III the Old as the duke of Kraków (1173-1177), a Jew was assaulted, a crime for which the perpetrators were put on trial for “sacrilege.” The legal qualification of this act was the consequence of the privilege granted to Jews, who, at the time, were considered to be the “servants of the treasury.” An assault on any Jew was thus tantamount to a violation of ducal law (ius ducale) – the provisions included in the privilege adopted in certain parts of Poland that granted to the Jews in 1157 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
However, it was only in 1287 when a name of a Jew residing in Kraków was first recorded. His name was Chranisz, and he was murdered by Jacob, likely a burgher from Kraków, whose house was then confiscated as punishment.
In the beginning of the 14th century, the amount of information on the Kraków Jewish community council becomes much more extensive owing to the surviving municipal records. Additionally, there was a Jewish street (ulica Żydowska) by the 14th century, currently known as St. Anne street (ul. Św. Anny), showing that Jews lived in a vicus Judeorum (or Jewish district) where two synagogues, a bathhouse
A huge fortified settlement Wawel – a capital of the state of the Wiślanie tribe, existed at the turn of the 8th and 9th centuries at the heart of the present-day Kraków. In the 10th century, Kraków was already one of the main economic, political, military and cultural centers in Małopolska (Lesser Poland) located on the trade route Ruthenia-Czech Republic-Western Europe. From circa 1040, the city was the capital of Poland and main residence of the Polish monarchs. In 1241, the Tatars invaded and ravaged Kraków, which did not have any defensive walls at that time. In 1275, Duke Bolesław Wstydliwy chartered the city on Magdeburg Rights, which meant exempting the settlers and investors from taxes. This attracted a large number of settlers, mostly Germans, but also Jews, who found here particularly favorable conditions.
In 1335, King Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great) chartered near Kraków, on the site of Bawół village, on the opposite site of the Vistula River, another city – Kazimierz. At the same time, more Jews began to settle in Kraków, which started to be considered as an even more significant center of trade with Silesian towns, Moravia, Czech Republic, Ruthenia and Hungary. The Jewish newcomers mostly settled near Kraków: in the town of Kazimierz and in Kleparz (a borough of Kraków).
In 1364, King Kazimierz Wielki established in Kraków the first Polish university – Kraków Academy. In 1495, by the decision of King Jan Olbracht, the Jews had to leave Kraków and most of them settled in the neighboring town of Kazimierz. The reason for expelling the Jews were unexplained circumstances of the fire that broke out in the center of Kraków and charges against the Jewish residents concerning this case. Great plagues, for example in 1651-1652 and the Swedish incursion in 1655-1657 set the beginning of the collapse of Kraków.
Since 1795, Kraków was under the control of Austria. Between the years 1815-1846, the city was the capital of the Republic of Kraków. Kraków became the center of cultural and scientific life as of the second half of the 19th century.
During World War II, in September 1939, Polish troops defending Kraków were outflanked by Germans and retreated in danger. When the Nazis assumed power, Kraków played the role of a seat of the German administrative authorities and headquarters of the military district
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