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Polska / mazowieckie

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Province:mazowieckie / kieleckie (before 1939)
County:zwoleński / kozienicki (before 1939)
Community:Zwoleń / Zwoleń (before 1939)
Other names:Зволень [j. rosyjski]
51.3555° N / 21.5877° E
51°21'19" N / 21°35'15" E


Krzysztof Urbański

Zwoleń – a town situated in Mazowieckie Province, the seat of Zwoleń County and Zwoleń urban and rural Municipality. It has 8.054 inhabitants (2008).

It lies on the Zwolanka River, 30 km from Radom, at the intersection of two routes: Radom – Puławy and Sandomierz – Lipsko – Warka – Warszawa.

Vast areas of forests that merged with the Kozienice Forests straddled a few kilometers away from the town centre. The town was chartered in the area of Gotardowa Wola village.



Krzysztof Urbański /

cmentarz żydowski w Zwoleniu | nieznany

The Jewish kehilla in Zwoleń was one of the oldest communities between the Wisła and Pilica Rivers. The Polish kings: Stefan Batory, Zygmunt III, Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, August III and Stanisław August Poniatowski, confirmed the privilege granted to the Jewish population, which allowed them to live, trade, construct a synagogue, a mikveh and cheders in the town. In 1554, two Jews were listed in the town and in 1567 as few as three Jews inhabited Zwoleń. In 1579, King Stefan Batory issued a privilege which allowed them to stay and trade in the town. Another privilege of December 1591 limited the number of houses owned by Jews to 10, but, on the other hand, allowed them to trade and use the prayer house without restrictions of any kind. King Zygmunt III in a privilege issued on 22 August 1615 allowed Jews to possess 20 houses. In 1661, there were eight Jewish houses, 20 debt collectors, Jewish bakers, alcoholic beverages producers and vendors in Zwoleń. The Jews who lived there in 1671 complained that the town incessantly fell pray to robberies of marching soldiers. Particularly damaging was the Swedish army in the 1660s.

An organized kehilla was established in the 1590s. A wooden synagogue was erected after 1591, and the cemetery was situated on a hill at the left bank of the river, far from the compact buildings. In 1765, the Jewish population of Zwoleń was estimated at about 400 people.

In the 19th century, Zwoleń became an important Hasidic centre, gathered around rabbi Szmuel Elijahu Tauba (died 1888), who established a court and a tzadik dynasty there. During the November Uprising (1830-1831), the Jewish cemetery suffered serious damages. The Russian army demolished and used its wooden fencing, the pre-burial house and ohels as fuel materials. In 1834, a huge fire destroyed Zwoleń. The synagogue, which was also damaged, was reconstructed in the same year.

In 1864, there were 2,894 people in Zwoleń, including 1,760 Jews, who lived in 325 houses (of which 93% were wooden). Economically active were 338 residents, including 88 craftsmen, 18 tradesmen, 12 inn keepers and 220 farmers.

In the 1860s, the Synagogue precinct was led by a well-known rabbi Chaskiel Cukier. A modern mikveh was constructed on his initiative in 1895. The same year a kosher slaughterhouse was built and later, in 1902, a detached cheder and


Local history

Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN /

The town of Zwoleń was founded in 1425 on the land of the Gotartowa Wola village. It developed into a crafts center with many guilds in the 16th and 17th centuries. A large Jewish population lived in the town in the 16th century with its own guild system. The town’s economy collapsed in the mid-17th century. From 1795 Zwoleń was a part of the Austrian Partition of Poland, from 1807 the Duchy of Warsaw, and from 1815 the Russian Partition (Kingdom of Poland). It lost its town rights between 1870 and 1925. During the interwar period, small industry was common in the town. During Nazi German occupation, in 1942, a ghetto was established in the town that processed a total of nearly 11,000 people, most of whom were sent to the extermination camp in Treblinka. Numerous executions of the town’s inhabitants occurred during this period as well. There were many partisan organizations active in the town during  this time, and the town was seized by units of the Home Army in February 1944. The town was largely destroyed by 1945 and was later rebuilt. Between 1954 and 1975 and again from 1999 to the present Zwoleń has served as a county capital.

The entry was prepared on the basis of source materials of PWN (Polish Scientific Publishers).




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