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Polska / opolskie

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Province:opolskie / inne (before 1939)
County:strzelecki / Großß Strehlitz (before 1939)
Community:Leśnica / Leschnitz (before 1939)
Other names:Leschnitz [j. niemiecki]
50.4284° N / 18.1868° E
50°25'42" N / 18°11'12" E


Adam Marczewski

Leśnica – a city in southwestern Poland, Opole Province, Strzelce County. It lies 18 km southwest of Strzelce Opolskie, 44 km southeast of Opole, and 308 km southwest of Warsaw.



Adam Marczewski

The first Jews living in Lesnica were mentioned in the census of 1783. 12 Jews lived in town at that time, constituting 1.08% of the overall population. The Lesnica Jews were subordinated to the Strzelce Opolskie kahal. In 1809 there were 22 Jews (2.9%), who dealt with trade and restaurant and inn keeping. According to the data from 1842 there were two restaurants and two inns run by Jews. In 1843 the Jewish population of Lesnica increased to 66 people, constituting 5.2% of overall population. At that same time only four Jews lived in the nearby village of Wysoka and five Jews in Zalesie Slaskie (1861). From 1843 the religious services were performed in a rented room in the building of the future court. In 1846 the Jewish community in Lesnica reached its peak number- 88 Jews, who constituted 6.5% of overall population. A Jewish Community was temporarily established in Lesnica from 1847 to 1860, nevertheless it was quickly dissolved as the number of community members diminished. There never was a rabbi in Lesnica, rabbis from Ujazd, Strzelce Opolskie or Gogolin came to perform the services. The Jewish population in Lesnica in 1875 was 58 people. Since 1888 services were performed in the Steinitz’s house (Narutowicz Sq. 26). The prayers were led by the cantor. Statistic data from 1895 confirm that the Jewish population in Lesnica was decreasing– 35 Jews in that year, 6 in 1925, only 2 in 1933. All Jews from Lesnica emigrated to the west.



Local history

Adam Marczewski

The market settlement Lesnica was first mentioned in 1217. The town was granted its town character under German law in 1290. The town developed as a large trade and craft center. Since 1327 Lesnica was under Czech rule and it shared the political fate of Silesia. In 1384 the town was surrounded by defense walls with three gates, but in spite of that it was burnt by the Hussites in 1429. In 1451 a big fire destroyed the town completely. In 1526 Lesinca alongside with the whole region of Silesia passed under Habsburg rule. From 1650 till 1807 the town belonged to the Colonna family from Strzelce Opolskie. The population of Lesnica in 1720 was 755 inhabitants. In 1742 Lesnica was incorporated into Prussia, under the German name Leschnitz. In 1749 a Franciscan monastery was built on St. Anna Hill, which became the destination of mass pilgrimages. Services for pilgrims became an important element of Lesnica’s economy. In 1787 there were 656 inhabitants. During the Napoleonic Wars, from 1807 till 1808, Bavarian soldiers were stationed in Lesnica, then from 1813 – Russian soldiers. The population in 1809 was 763, in 1843- 1,272 inhabitants and in 1875 already 1,500 inhabitants. Between the wars, after a vote in 1921 Lesnica remained within German borders. During the Third Silesian Uprising severe fights were carried on in the region of St. Anna Hill. The population of Lesnica in 1925 was 1,569 inhabitants. A slight economic revival took place after 1934 when a railway line connecting Lesnica to Kedzierzyn and Strzelce was opened. The Nazis changed the towns name to Bergstadt.
During World War II the Nazis established forced labor camps for Jews in the region of Lesnica. In September 1940 a forced labor camp for Jews was formed on St. Anna Hill. (400-500 prisoners on average). In December 1940 a similar camp was created in the village of Dolna. Jewish workers (from Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France) worked by the construction of the Wroclaw – Gliwice highway. After 1943 the prisoners were also carried to work to the Zdzieszowice coke-chemical plant. The deceased were buried in mass graves in the forest near St. Anna Hill. From September 1944 till January 1945 the camps were abolished and the prisoners were transferred to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and later they were evacuated to the west.
In January 1945 Lesnica was occupied




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