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Polska / śląskie

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Province:śląskie / śląskie autonomiczne (before 1939)
County:Rybnik / rybnicki (before 1939)
Community:Rybnik / Rybnik (before 1939)
Other names:Rybnick [j. niemiecki]; ריבניק [j. hebrajski]
50.1018° N / 18.5461° E
50°06'06" N / 18°32'46" E


Adam Marczewski /

Rybnik – a town in southern Poland, in the Silesian Province, Rybnik County. It is located 52 km southwest of Katowice, 346 km southwest of Warsaw. It lies on the Rybnik Plateau, a part of the Silesian Highland, on the rivers Ruda and Nacyna.



Adam Marczewski

Dom towarowy Noah Leschczinera | nieznany

It is not known when the first Jews arrived in Rybnik. Presumably they came here at the turn of the 15th century, as was the case in other Silesian towns, e.g. in the neighbouring Żory. However, there are no historical records to confirm the presence of Jews in Rybnik at that time. In 1565, under a resolution of the Silesian Parliament, Jews were expelled from Siliesia. They returned here only after Silesia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1742. According to Wojciech Jaworski, the oldest Jewish community in Upper Silesia established after this territory was seized by Prussia was the community in Cieszowa which formed in the middle of the 18th century.

First actual figures for Rybnik come from the late 18th century. The 1784 census recorded 42 Jews who made up 5.2% of the total number of Rybnik's inhabitants. In 1787, there were 94 Orthodox Jews living here, comprising 7.5% of the town's inhabitants. Initially, the Jews in Rybnik did not have their own synagogue or cemetery. They buried their dead on the Jewish cemetery in Mikołów (established in 1682) and attended prayers in Żory.

The Jewish community in Rybnik went through a period of great changes in 1784 when the General Statutes for the Jews in the South and New-East Prussia (General Juden-Reglement für Süd und Neu-Ostpreussen) came into force. When the war activity during the Napoleonic Wars subsided, the Prussian authorities introduced two more laws: the Cities' Organizational Reforms in 1808 and the Edict of Emancipation in 1812. Under these, Jews gained citizen rights which made them equal to other citizens of the Prussian state. Additionally, they were allowed to practise crafts without belonging to guilds, and enjoyed the right to purchase urban property. This partial equality of the Jewish population in the Kingdom of Prussia led to the formation of other Jewish communities in Silesia (by the beginning of the 19th century, there were three: in Żory, in Mikołów and in Bieruń Stary).

In 1811, the Jews in Rybnik erected their own synagogue. It was a small, wooden, one-storey building located by the Nacyna River, on a street known today as ul. Raciborska. In 1812, a Jewish community was formed in the town. In 1815, the Jews in Rybnik established their cemetery.


Local history

Adam Marczewski /

Wizyta Józefa Piłsudskiego w Rybniku | Nieznany

There was a fishing village on the spot already in the 10th century – the future town took its name from numerous ponds in the vicinity (the word ‘rybnik’ means ‘fishpond’ in several Slavic languages, including Czech and Silesian). Rybnik was granted town rights under the Magdeburg Law by the Count of Racibórz at some point before 1308. Advantageous location on a trade route from Racibórz to Cracow encouraged the town’s growth and development. In 1327 Leszek, the Count of Racibórz, together with other rulers from the Upper Silesia, offered fealty to John the Blind, King of Bohemia. From that moment on Rybnik was under the Bohemian administration and shared its political fate with the rest of Silesia. Four years later the Count died and for the next two centuries the area of Rybnik remained under the rule of members of the Premyslid royal dynasty offshoot from Opava.

Before 1336 a fortified castle was erected in Rybnik. In 1433 the Hussites devastated the town. After Ludwik II Jagiellończyk (Louis II of Hungary) died without progeny in the battle of Mohacs in 1526 Ferdinand I Habsburg, Archduke of Austria and the future Holy Roman Emperor, became the ruler of Bohemia. In the 16th century the Duchy of Racibórz, and therefore also Rybnik, was returned to the hands of Count Jan II the Good, last in the Opole line of the Piast dynasty. The Count died in 1532; soon after his death Rybnik was proclaimed a free-state city of the Reich, a direct subject to the Emperor. The town was ruled by members of Bohemian and German noble families.

From 1742 Rybnik, along with the majority of Silesia, belonged to Prussia. The colonizing and economic policy of the Hohenzollerns (Frederic II the Great, Frederic William II) encouraged development of mining and brewing industry in the region, which improved the overall state of local economy. In the years 1794 and 1796 extensive fires destroyed parts of the town, which was by now owned by the state. In 1856 railway line was opened in Rybnik, which further influenced the town’s development. In 1889 an ironworks was built and in 1899 an iron foundry and a machine factory were opened. Numerous coalmines were in operation in the vicinity of the town. In 1910 Rybnik totalled over 11 thousand residents.

After the end of First World War the residents of Rybnik actively participated in the Silesian Uprisings (1919-21). Despite





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