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Otmuchów

Polska / opolskie

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

Summary

Province:opolskie / inne (before 1939)
County:nyski / Grottkau (before 1939)
Community:Otmuchów / Ottmachau (before 1939)
Other names:Ottmachau [j. niemiecki]
 
GPS:
50.4652° N / 17.1745° E
50°27'54" N / 17°10'28" E

Location

Adam Marczewski

Herb miasta Otmuchów | plik publiczny

Otmuchów is situated in the Nysa district and Opole Province. It lies at Przedgórze Sudeckie, by the Złote Mountains, in Obniżenie Otmuchowskie (valley) by the Nysa Kłodzka River, between Lake Otmuchowskie and Lake Nyskie.

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History

Adam Marczewski /

 Jewish presence in Otmuchów was confirmed as early as in 1367. The exact number remains unknown but most probably it was not more no than a dozen or so Jews. New Jewish settlers brought with them western models of social and political organization of a state. In addition to that, they also imported tradition, religious rites and a language of Ashkenazi Jews (Hebr. אַשְׁכְּנָזִים, the word “Ashkenazi” denotes Germany as a country where they came from.)


Most Jews in the 15th century occupied themselves with trade and granted loans to Silesian dukes (charging interests on financial loans was then prohibited by Canon law in the whole of Christian Europe.) Some Hebrews ran small craft workshops and shops.
Good financial situation of Jews evoked increasing hatred against them and led to pogroms, whose source was related to economic issues. Kazimierz Bobowski comments on those facts as follows: “Increasing pogroms against Silesian Jews from the 15th century should be related to a growing class disparity in towns. The patriciate of many Silesian towns hoped that pogroms would defuse, only in some degree in the least, dissatisfaction of the poor with economic relations.”


Early in the 16th century competition between Jewish and Christian merchants in Silesia intensified. Financial enrichment of Jews evoked increasing dissatisfaction and tensions among towners, who very often complained about Silesian Jews to imperial authorities in Vienna. Taking advantage of anti-Semitic atmosphere the town of Otmuchów adopted the De non tolerandis Iudaeis privilege, issued by Czech King Wladyslaw. Yet George, Margrave of Brandenburg-Asbach, was trying to prevent Jews from abandoning the towns of the Opole-Racibórz duchy reminding all the towners and merchants about a positive influence of Jewish activity on the economic situation of the state.


When Silesia went under the rule of German emperors in 1526 also Silesian Jews went under the jurisdiction of the empire.


Early in the 16th century competition between Jewish and Christian merchants in Silesia intensified. Financial enrichment of Jews evoked increasing dissatisfaction and tensions among towners, who very often complained about Silesian Jews to imperial authorities in Vienna, which in 1535 forced Jakub von Salza, a Wrocław

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Local history

Adam Marczewski /

The beginnings of the settlement in Otmuchów, which guarded an important trade route from Prague through Kraków to Ruthenia, date back to the 10th century.

In the 12th century, the Otmuchów castellany was owned by the bishops of Wrocław (as confirmed in the Pope’s bull from 1155) and gave rise to an extensive duchy, situated in the borderland of Lower and Upper Silesia. The capital of the ecclesiastical duchy was moved to the nearby Nysa which was developing more rapidly.

In the first half of the 14th century, the whole Silesia, including the Duchy of Nysa came under Bohemian dominium and shared its political fate. In 1347, under the reign of bishop Przecław from Pogorzela, Otmuchów was granted city rights on German law. In 1369, a defensive wall was constructed. In 1428, the Bohemian Hussites conquered and plundered Otmuchów. After gaining self-governance in 1511, the town saw a longer period of prosperity. In 1526, as king Ludwik II Jagiellończyk died childless, the king of Bohemia became the Archduke of Austria Ferdinand Habsburg. During the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), the town was repeatedly destroyed.

From 1741, Otmuchów belonged to the state of Prussia. During Napoleonic Wars, the authorities in Berlin who were in desperate need of income took over the Episcopal estates in the duchy (1810). In the second half of the 19th century, the largest sugar refinery in Upper Silesia was built and in 1874 a railway line to Nysa was constructed.

During the interwar period, affluent pensioners and rentiers from the German inlands settled in the town. In 1933, a water dam was built, thus creating the Lake Otmuchowskie.

In May 1945, Otmuchów was occupied by the Soviet Army. During the fights 50% of city buildings were destroyed. The resettled German inhabitants were replaced with Polish settlers. After rebuilding, Otmuchów became a famous tourist centre, thanks to its monuments and location.

Bibliography

  • M. Sikorski, M. Grudzień, Otmuchów — szkice do portretu miasta, Otmuchów (1995).
  • B Steinborn, Otmuchów. Paczków, Wrocław (1982).

 

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