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Oświęcim

Polska / małopolskie

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

Summary

Province:małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)
County:oświęcimski / bialski (before 1939)
Community:Oświęcim / Oświęcim (before 1939)
Other names:Osviecimensis [j.łacina]
Osvětim [j.czeski]
Auschwitz [j.niemiecki]
אושוויינצ'ים [j.hebrajski]
אָשפּיצין Oshpitsin [j.jidysz]
Освенцим [j.rosyjski]
 
GPS:
50.0350° N / 19.2099° E
50°02'06" N / 19°12'35" E

Location

Katarzyna Pabis /

Herb miasta Oświęcim | plik publiczny

Oświęcim – a city in southern Poland, in the Małopolska Province, in Oświęcim County. It lies 67 km south of Cracow, 312 km southwest of Warsaw, by the mouth of the Soła River into the Vistula River.

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History

Katarzyna Pabis

Uczennice i nauczycielki szkoły w Oświęcimiu, rok szkolny 1915/1916  | nieznany

It is estimated that the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Auschwitz started in the first half of the 15th century, when Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (Casimir IV Jagiellon), redeeming the Duchy of Auschwitz from the Bohemian vassalage, reunited it with Poland.

The King supported the development of the town, the result of which was his approval for the Jewish settlement within its limits. However, because the town was situated at the point where trade routes met and near other trade centers, there might have been many Jews among the merchants arriving to Auschwitz at an earlier time, though no historical references can confirm that. 

The Piast dynasty from the Duchy of Auschwitz and Zator was not in favor of the earlier Jewish settlement in the region. The first references concerning the Jews in Auschwitz come from “Inwentarz procentów wszystkich Oświęcimskich A. D. 1549” [Inventory of all Oświęcim receipts A.D. 1549”].. 

It was not until the reign of King Kazimierz that the previous privileges granted to the Jews, who settled in the area around the castle in the northern part of the town, were confirmed. They dealt mostly with the sale of alcoholic beverages, usury and trade, and in the mid-16th century “they had already taken up the northern part of the town and made attempts to settle in the market square area as well.

The contemporary Polish law allowed the Jews to acquire properties in the town, but prohibited the purchase of country estate. Gradually, the Jews moved to the southern part of the town. The area around the castle and ul. Żydowska (Żydowska Street; today’s ul. Berka Joselewicza) were the center of Jewish life, but according to Artur Szyndler, the Jews also lived in other parts of the town, which means they did not occupy a separate district at the time. 

Near ul. Berka Joselewicza (Berka Joselewicza Street), on the grounds handed over to the kehilla by a townsman Jan Piotraszewski, the first wooden synagogue was erected in 1588; it was probably destroyed during the Swedish Deluge.

Moreover, a cemetery and other institutions necessary for the proper functioning of the Jewish community were established. The main occupation of the community members was the sale of alcohol, practicing usury, as well

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Local history

Katarzyna Pabis /

Nowy Rynek w Oświęcimiu | nieznany

The first record of an Oświęcim castellany comes from 1179 when Duke Casimir II the Just transferred the town to his nephew Mieszko I Tanglefoot, Duke of Opole and Racibórz. Despite the separation from Cracow, the city had belonged to the Cracow diocese until 1821. During the rule of Władysław I, the duke of Opole, around 1272, Oświęcim received town privileges modeled on those of Lwówek. In the period of 1312 – 1317 a new Dutchy of Oświęcim was established, and from 1327 it was feudal to the Kingdom of Bohemia. The 15th century saw the division of the area into three parts: the Dutchy of Oświęcim, the Dutchy of Zator and the Dutchy of Toszek. In 1475 the duke of Oświęcim, Jan IV, sold his rights to Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon. As a result of this act the Dutchy of Oświęcim was linked to the Kingdom of Poland through the figure of the monarch.

On the Warsaw assembly in 1564 Zygmunt II August issued a privilege of incorporation, recognising the Duchies of Oświęcim and Zator (bought out by king John I Albert in 1494) the part of the Kindgom of Poland. Both dutchies were also attached to the Cracow province as a Silesia county. Their names were preserved.

The period of Swedish wars started the economic fall of Oświęcim. The city also burned several times. During the first partition of Poland in 1772, Oświęcim and Zator were included into Galicia, the territory annexed by Austria. A few years later, the emeperor Francis II confirmed all previous privileges and also granted rights for running 12 fairs a year. The town was announced municipal and received a new crest.

Thanks to the three railway lines which met in the city, in the second half of the 19th century Oświęcim became an important junction. This also influenced develompent of the industry. The beginning of the 20th century saw the establishment of new municipal institutions: in 1910 the Oświęcim county was created. On 3 November 1918 Polish Liquidation Committee (Polish: Polska Komisja Likwidacyjna) in Cracow appointed the County Liquidation Committee (Polish: Powiatowy Komitet Komisji Likwidacyjnej), which was the beginning of the Polish civil authorities in the county. The administrative unit was abolished in 1932 and the city was included into the Bielsko county in the Cracow Province.

During the World War II, in October 1939, a part of the Craco

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