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Polska / dolnośląskie

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Province:dolnośląskie / inne (before 1939)
County:oławski / Ohlau (before 1939)
Community:Oława / Ohlau (before 1939)
Other names:Ohlau [j. niemiecki]; אולאווה [j. hebrajski]
50.9459° N / 17.2932° E
50°56'45" N / 17°17'35" E



The town of Oława is situated in the Silesian Valley that stretches along the Odra River. The town’s natural environment is very attractive. The river divides the town into two different regions: southern – with rich soil and well developed agriculture, and northern – covered mostly with forests. There are five nature reserves in the town’s neighborhood. Within the town, one may find protected forest areas and bushes.1



N. Klajman

Fritz i Josie Wagner, Oława, 1911 i około 1913 roku. | nieznany

The first remarks concerning Jewish inhabitants in the district of Oława date from the beginning of the 14th century. In 1337 the Silesian Duke Bolko presented Jan, the King of Bohemia, with the town of Wiązów in the Olawa County, and Jewish inhabitants were mentioned in the donation act.1 It is also documented that in 1353 a woman named Rachela stayed in town.2
Documents from Wroclaw mention a Jewish woman named Gołda from Oława, who settled in Wroclaw in 1357.3

In the 1360s years Jews were probably expelled from Oława and some of them even lost their lives during anti-Jewish riots. Again until the 17th century, Jews moved to Oława. It is verifiable that Jews rent the town mint in 1620.
In modern history Jews appear in Oława at the end of the 18th century. The first Jewish settlers were the Steinmann family, mentioned in historical records of 1787. Samuel Baruch Steinmann first obtained a settlement permit and acted quickly to obtain one for his son. The town council of Oława gave him the permission, however with some reservations regarding protecting the town from Jewish competition.4 In 1809 the Jewish population amounted to 21 people, and in 1861 this number rose to 210.5 The first Jewish settlers came from the neighboring municipalities – from Brzeg, Kluczbork, Oleśnica and also from Upper Silesia.
After an independent commune had been established, the kehilla of Oława was merged with the Jewish Community in Brzeg Dolny (Dyhernfurth) and incorporated into the second synagogue district in Brzeg. In the 19th century Jews made their living by trading, working in the town mint or performing free professions; besides, they also worked in industrial plants. In 1818 the jewish cemetery was founded. First it was a private cemetery but in 1833 it was was given to the jewish community.  In the 1830s a merchant, Wilhelm Freudenthal, was the first Jew to become a member of the town council. From the 1880s the number of Jews was declined sharply.
In 1933 the Synagogue Community had 40 members, 13 out of which were actual members. The kehilla was headed by Adolf Gruschka, and the community board consisted of Georg Jonas and Georg Striem. The town Wiązów (Wansen), with 9 Jewish inhabitants, also belonged to the community. Shetitah ( ritual slaughter) was performed in the kehilla.1
When Adolf Hitler


Local history

Tamara Włodarczyk /

Oława was first mentioned in a document of 1149 as a donation made by Piotr Włostowic to Saint Vincent Abbey in Ołbin near Wroclaw. Fifty years later, Duke Henryk I Brodaty became the town’s owner, beginning the rule of the Piast dynasty there, which lasted over 500 years. At the turn of the 13th century, Oława was granted town rights, probably under the Środa Śląska Law (Neumarkt-Magdeburger Recht). The preserved documents confirm that 1234 can be considered the date of such location, as the name of the mayor was mentioned there. However, the oldest existing town seal is a hundred years older.

In the period of 1329-1526 Oława, a legacy of the Piast dynasty from Wroclaw and later of the Piast dynasty from Brześć or Brześć and Legnica, belonged, as almost the whole Silesia to the Bohemian Kingdom. Only for a short period from 1358 to 1398 was the town governed by Wacław I and Ludwik I, Piast dukes independent from Bohemian authorities. Since 1526, the whole Silesia came under the authority of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty. Oława was then already ruled by the Protestant Duke Fryderyk II, son-in-law of King Zygmunt I Stary. From 1691 to 1743, Oława was under the rule of the oldest son of the Polish King Jan III Sobieski, Prince Jakub Sobieski, who received the lands after his marriage with Jadwiga Elżbieta von Neuburg. In 1741, Prussia and Austria competed for the territory of Silesia, and as a result Oława was annexed by Prussia.

In the first half of the 19th century, many modern urban and industrial investments were carried on, but on the other side – numerous historical buildings were pulled down. In 1842, a railway line was launched between Wroclaw and Oława, which influenced the industrial development of the town. In the second half of the 19th century, industry still grew rapidly and Oława became a strong industrial centre. One of the important investments of that time was the construction of a modern, steel bridge across the Odra River in 1898. The works on implementing the sewage system also began in that period.

During World War I, the town did not sustain any major damages, although 2,700 inhabitants of the county died at the front. The situation changed during World War II. The last months of military actions caused severe destruction. The town lost a great deal of its transportation constructions (e.g. the bridge acros





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