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Polska / śląskie

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Province:śląskie / inne (before 1939)
County:raciborski / (before 1939)
Community:Racibórz / Ratibor (before 1939)
Other names:Ratibor [j. niemiecki]; רטיבור [j. hebrajski]
50.0962° N / 18.2109° E
50°05'46" N / 18°12'39" E


Adam Marczewski /

Racibórz – a town in southern Poland on the Silesian Highland, capital of Racibórz County. It lies 76 km southwest of Katowice, 367 km southwest of Warsaw. It lies in the Racibórz-Oświęcim Valley, on the Odra river.



Adam Marczewski

Marsz śmierci - styczeń 1945 r. | Muzeum w Gliwicach

According to Marcus Brann, a 19th century researcher of Jewish history in Silesia, the earliest Jewish settlement near Racibórz dates back to 1060. However, this information does not seem very likely and it has no confirmation in any historical sources.

Another information, written down by one of priests of Stara Wieś (now a district of Racibórz), which dates back to the second half of 11th century states that where the church of Saint Nicholas stands, used to be a synagogue. According to some uncertain folk stories, a wooden synagogue used to be in Stara Wieś. The presence of Jews in Stara Wieś in the 11th century is probable because Rarcibórz was then a part of the Great Moravia, where Jews could freely settle. They could travel through the Moravian Gate in business and reach Racibórz by the Amber Road.

Priest Augustin Weltzel, on the other hand, notes that the first Jews of Racibórz come most probably from Khazars, whose country was in the Lower Danube region. It was not until many years later that Jews from Germany joined them.

Marcus Brann states that in 1367 Jews lived in Racibórz on Sukiennicza Street (today Solna Street) in the vicinity of the town wall. The first synagogue stood on the corner of Solna and Lecznicza Streets (then Żydowska Street – Ger.: Judengasse) . According to Weltzel, the synagogue dates back to 1432. In 1379 Jews resided in the part of the city located west from the city square. In 14th century, there was already a Jewish municipality in Racibórz.

In the beginning of the 16th century, the competition between Jewish and Christian merchants in Silesia grew. The Jews were becoming wealthier, which evoked growing anxieties in the townspeople, who begun to file complaints on the Silesian Jews to the authorities in Vienna. The town of Racibórz, using the unfriendly attitude towards the Jews as a pretext, accepted the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis issued by the Czech king Władysław. On 1 January 1510, duke of Raciborz, Valentin the Hunchbacked, issued a privilege which banned all Jews from Raciborz. As a result, Jews could not settle in the town. However, it is known that Jews lived in Racibórz at least until the mid-16th century.

When Silesia came under the rule of German emperor in 1526, the Silesian Jews came under the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Empire, to


Local history

Adam Marczewski

The stronghold of Racibórz by the Oder River dating back to the 11th century was first mentioned by Gallus Anonymous, who described in his chronicle a battle of 1108 between the knights of Bolesław III Wrymouth and Moravians for power over that settlement. The name of the town comes most probably from the German name Racibor (a germanised form: Ratibor), which means "fighting at war" or "eager to fight".

Its convenient location at the crossroads of trade routes from Bohemia and Moravia to Cracow and Ruthenia facilitated the development of the settlement, which was the seat of a castellany in the 12th century. From 1172 to 1532, Racibórz was the actual capital of an autonomous duchy. About 1200, Mieszko I Tanglefoot established the first mint, which issued coins with the Slavic inscription "milost"[1.1]. The settlement was granted municipal rights under the Flemish law about 1217.

The 13th century saw the rapid growth of Racibórz as a large centre of commerce and craft (drapery and weaving). The city had deposits of salt and hosted the largest grain market in Upper Silesia. In 1241, Racibórz managed twice to resist the invasion of the Tatars. At the time, the settlement was already fortified and protected by a moat from the south and west side. With the passage of time, the Flemish law ceased to respond to the needs of the rapidly developing centre and was replaced in 1299 by the Magdeburg law, which entrusted power over the town to a council composed of the richest bourgeois.

In 1327, Duke Leszek (1306–1336) paid homage to King John of Bohemia, whereby Racibórz came under the sovereignty of Bohemia and started to share the political fortunes of Silesia. In 1331, the Duchy of Racibórz was taken over by a cadet branch of the Bohemian dynasty of Przemyslids. 190 years thereafter, it was incorporated into the district of Opole under the rule of Jan II the Good, the last living representative of that Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty. In 1532, Racibórz came under the direct rule of the Habsburgs, who reigned in Silesia after Louis II of Bohemia and Hungary died heirless (1526). The town fell into decline in the 17th century, when it was destroyed by the Swedes on several occasions in the





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