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Polska / małopolskie

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


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


Katarzyna Pabis /

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.



Katarzyna Pabis /

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

It is estimated that the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Oświęcim began in the first half of the 16th century, when Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk redeemed the Duchy of Oświęcim from the Bohemian vassalage in 1457. The King supported the development of the town, the result of which was his approval for the Jewish settlement within its limits. However, as the town was situated at the intersection of trade routes and near other trade centres, there might have been many Jews among the merchants arriving to Oświęcim at the earlier time, though no historical references confirm that. The Piast dynasty from the Duchy of Oświęcim and Zator was not in favor of the earlier Jewish settlement in the region.

The first references concerning the Jews in Oświęcim come from Inwentarz procentów wszystkich Oświęcimskich A. D. 1549 (The Inventory of the Percentage of All Jews in Oświęcim A.D. 1549). King Kazimierz confirmed the previous privileges granted to Jews, who settled in the area around the castle and in the northern part of the town. 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 Jews to acquire properties in the town, but prohibited them from purchasing of country estate. Gradually, the Jews moved to the southern part of the town. The area around the castle and Żydowska Street (today’s Berka Joselewicza Street) became the centre of Jewish life. However, according to Artur Szyndler, Jews also lived in other parts of the town, which indicates that they did not occupy a separate district at that time.

In the vicinity of 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 production of alcoholic beverages, usury, as well as the distribution and wholesale trade of the Bochnia salt.

In 1551 and 1569, King Zygmunt II August guaranteed the Jews of Poland the possibility of electing their chief rabbi and of o


Local history

Katarzyna Pabis /

Nowy Rynek w Oświęcimiu | nieznany

Oświęcim is historically one of the oldest castellan settlements in Poland. The first records come from 1179 when Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy handed over the Oświęcim castellany to Mieszko I Plątonogi, the Duke of Opole. Around 1272, Oświęcim received a city charter based on the Lwówek law in a privilege issued by Władysław I, the Duke of Opole. Another privilege from around that time established an aldermanship in Oświęcim. In the 1280s, the Oświęcim land became part of the Duchy of Cieszyn. On 2 September 1291, the city rights of Oświęcim were confirmed and extended for a new court and economic privilege.

In the years 1312–1317, the Duchy of Cieszyn was divided and as a result a new Duchy of Oświęcim was established, independent from Poland and Bohemia, whose first Duke was Władysław. His successor, Jan Scholastyk, paid homage to the Bohemian king Jan Luksemburczyk. In 1445, the Duchy of Oświęcim was divided into three parts: the Duchy of Oświęcim, the Duchy of Zator and the Duchy of Toszek. Jan IV became the Duke of Oświęcim and soon, in 1457, sold his rights to Polish King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk. As a result the Duchy of Oświęcim was linked to the Kingdom of Poland through the figure of the monarch.

On the sejm assembly in Warsaw on 25 February 1564, Zygmunt II August issued a privilege of incorporation, recognising the Duchies of Oświęcim and Zator (bought out by king Jan Olbracht in 1494) as the part of the Kindgom of Poland. Both duchies were also attached to the Kraków Province as the Silesia County. Their names were preserved. The period of Swedish wars started the economic fall of Oświęcim, which was also frequently ravaged by fires.

After the I Partition of Poland in 1772, Oświęcim was included into Galicia, the territory annexed by Austria. The Emeperor Franz II confirmed all previous privileges and additionally granted the right for running 12 fairs a year. The town was announced municipal and received a new crest.

In the second half of the 19th century, Oświęcim became an important railway junction. In 1856, the Emperor Ferdinand Northen Railway running through the town (stage Trzebnia – Zebrzydowice) connected it with Kraków and Vienna. In 1863, a direct railway connection with Katowice through Mysłowice was established and in 1884 another direct railway to Kraków Płaszów through Skawina was construc





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