Polska / małopolskie
|Synagogues, prayer houses and others||Cemeteries||Sites of martyrdom||Judaica in museums||Andere|
|Province:||małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)|
|County:||oświęcimski / wadowicki (before 1939)|
|Community:||Zator / Zator (before 1939)|
|Other names:||Zator [j. niemiecki]; Zator [j. jidysz]; זאטור [j. hebrajski]|
It is a town on the Skawa River, situated on the route from Krakow to Oswiecim, in the Oswiecim County, Krakow Province, and surrounded by picturesque fish ponds.
Jews started to settle down in Zator about 1429. In the 16th century the starost gave them one of his privileges, that is the right to propination. The town dwellers of Zator protested strongly to it, they even appealed to the king, who confirmed they had been right. Initially, the Jewish community, settled in the vicinity of the castle was not very numerous, and did not play an important role in Zator’s economy.
In the 18th century the starost’s protection encouraged people to settle in Zator, the number of Jewish residents also increased. The group living in the suburb called Kamieniec, not far from the castle, expanded. They were becoming the town’s economic elite. In 1765 a tax of 260 zl was imposed on long term Jewish residents, whereas the newcomers were supposed to pay 240 zl. Those sums exceeded those paid by Christian town dwellers. In the 19th century Kamieniec became officially the Jewish district and its inhabitants constituted a quarter of the total number of Zator’s inhabitants, that is of 1,240 people in that period. From that time on the number of Jewish inhabitants was stable, it reached at the level of 25% and remained like that until World War II.
Jews constituted the town’s financial elite. In 1867 the most affluent residents were: Abraham Sass- a merchant, Abraham Kluger, Mojżesz Datner and Mojżesz Menasche, a stall-keeper. Three years later Mojżesz Menasche turned out to be the richest, and he was followed by a propination leaseholder, Pepi Kluger, and the already mentioned Abraham Sass. According to that census the fourth most affluent citizen was Walenty Chlebowski, a Christian farmer. The main source of income of the rich as well as of the less wealthy was trade, to a lesser extent craft and inn-keeping. Jews from Zator were famous horse and cattle traders, two families lived on small farms, but the majority of Jews lived in towns. As the Jews from Zator were considerably rich, they had the opportunity to participate in the town’s political life and to influence political decisions. When in 1866 Zator was granted the right to self-management and to appoint the city council, consisting of 24 members and 12 deputies, its Jewish citizens, who paid considerable taxes to the town treasury, began to play an important role in shaping the town authorities.
It is not known exactly wh
It was in the Zator region, which later on became part of the Kraków land, where the Vistulans tribe (Wislanie) setteled down at the beginning of the formation process of the Polish state.. Those territories constituted later the western part of Lesser Poland, and became part of the monarchy of the first Piasts. About 1179 the Oswiecim Castellany, and with it the areas of the present town, were separated from Poland and passed under the rule of the dynasty of the Silesian Piasts. It was most probably then that Zator was founded as a border defensive stronghold, protecting the trade route from Kraków to Silesia. In 1292 Zator was granted town rights. In the years 1313–1317 the Duchy of Oswiecim was established, which in 1327 became a Bohemian fief for more than a century, alongside with Zator, which was situated on its territory . In 1445, as a result of the division of the Duchy of Oswiecim, the Zator Duchy was established and the town became its capital city. Waclaw, its first Duke, enlarged the town’s territory and surrounded it with city walls. He also started the construction of the castle. Thanks to the royal privileges the town developed dynamically, it was mostly famous first of all for fish cultivation , farming, trade and craft. In 1456 the Zator Duchy was given back to Poland as a fief, and in 1494 Janusz, the last duke of Zator, sold it to King Jan Olbracht, preserving only the right of life-long ruling. The duchy was legally incorporated into Poland only in 1564 during the General Sejm (Parliament). It was administered by the starost (alderman) on behalf of the King. Zator with nearby lands administratively belonged to the Kraków Province, it preserved, however, the status of duchy and enjoyed some independence. It was the seat of the strosty (aldermanship), place of sejmiks (sejmik- regional assembly of noblemen) a political and economic center. During the Swedish deluge it was partially destroyed and in consequence it fell into economic decay. During the partitions of Poland the Zator land was incorporated into Galicia and went under Austrian rule. In 1884 the railway line Skawina–Oświęcim was opened, which brought the town’s economic revival. Alongside with the basic economic activity- fish cultivation, crafts developed, such as plaiting and basket-making, and also trade. New small businesses were established.