|Motto: Civitas Regi Bendzinensis|
|Gmina||Będzin (urban gmina)|
|• Mayor||Łukasz Komoniewski|
|• City||37.08 km2 (14.32 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||382 m (1,253 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||260 m (850 ft)|
|• Density||1,600/km2 (4,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Area code(s)||+48 32|
Będzin [ˈbɛnd͡ʑin] ( ) (also Bendzin, Yiddish: Bendin בענדין, German: Bendzin, Bendsburg) is a city in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie, southern Poland. It lies in the Silesian Highlands, on the Czarna Przemsza river (a tributary of the Vistula). Even though part of Silesian Voivodeship, Będzin belongs to historic Lesser Poland, and it is one of the oldest towns of this province. Będzin is regarded as the capital of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie.
It has been situated in the Silesian Voivodeship since its formation in 1999. Before 1999, it was located in Katowice Voivodeship (1975 - 1999). Będzin is one of the cities of the 2.7 million person conurbation - Katowice urban area and within a greater Silesian metropolitan area populated by about 5,294,000 people. The population of the city itself is 58,639 (2008).
Będzin is located 12 km (7 mi) from Katowice and 4 km (2 mi) from the center of Sosnowiec. Together with Sosnowiec, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Czeladź, Wojkowice, Sławków and Siewierz it makes Zagłębie Dąbrowskie, a highly industrialized and densely populated part of western Lesser Poland. Będzin borders the cities of Sosnowiec, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Czeladź, Siemianowice Śląskie, and Wojkowice, as well as the village of Psary. Highest point of the town is St. Dorthy Mountain (382 meters above sea level), and the area of Będzin is 37.08 square kilometres (14.32 sq mi).
Będzin is divided into eight districts:
- Grodziec, which in 1951 - 1975 was a separate town,
- Gzichów (part of Będzin since 1915),
- Ksawera (part of Będzin since 1923),
- Łagisza (in 1967 - 1973 a separate town),
- Małobądz (part of Będzin since 1915),
- Śródmieście (historic center),
- Warpie (part of Będzin since 1923).
Furthermore, in 1977-1992, Wojkowice, now a separate town, was part of Będzin.
The name Będzin most probably comes from ancient Polish given name Beda or Bedzan. In the past, the town was also called Banden, Bandin, Bandzien, Bondin, Bandzen, Bandzin, Badzin, Bendzin, and Bendsburg (1939-1945).
First mention of the village of Będzin comes from 1301, but a settlement (or a grod) had existed here since the 9th century, guarding ancient trade route from Kiev to Western Europe. In the 1340s, a town was founded here, with King Casimir III the Great building a stone strongpoint. On August 5, 1358, Będzin was incorporated as a town (see German town law), part of Lesser Poland's Kraków Voivodeship. In the Jagiellonian period Będzin, located on the border between Lesser Poland and Silesia, was a major trade center. In 1565 King Sigismund II Augustus allowed the town to have five markets a week, and in 1589, at Będzin Castle, Polish - Austrian negotiations took place. At that time, a Jewish community already existed here. In 1655, during The Deluge, both town and castle were destroyed by the Swedes, and Będzin did not recover from the destruction for many years. Following the Partitions of Poland, the town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, as New Silesia, and in 1815 it became part of Russian-controlled Congress Poland.
In the late 18th century rich deposits of coal were found in the area. In the 19th century, Będzin and its vicinity enjoyed a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization. New settlements and towns were founded, and the region of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie was established in southwestern corner of Congress Poland. In 1858, Będzin got its first rail connection, due to construction of the Warsaw–Vienna railway. The town increased in population and size, when neighboring settlements were annexed by it. In the Second Polish Republic Będzin was an important center of local administration and industry. New rail station, waterworks, schools and offices were built, and on September 4, 1939, the Wehrmacht entered Będzin. During the occupation, town’s name was changed into Bendsburg, and it was part of Upper Silesia Province, as the capital of Landkreis Bendsburg. On January 27, 1945, the town was captured by the Red Army. The castle was rebuilt (now it is home to Museum of Zagłębie), new districts with blocks of flats were built, new factories were opened, including Łagisza Power Station.
Będzin is conveniently located at the intersection of two national roads - the 94th (Zgorzelec - Kraków), and the 86th (Katowice -Warsaw). Katowice International Airport is located 23 km (14 mi) away, at Pyrzowice. The town also is a rail hub, where two connections meet. Będzin has three rail stations (Będzin-Miasto, Będzin and Będzin-Ksawera), and convenient bus and tram connections to neighboring cities. First tram line was opened here in 1928.
During the Second World War the city was the base for a working party (E716) of British and Commonwealth prisoners of war, under the administration of Stalag VIIIB/344 at Łambinowice (then know as Lamsdorf) in Poland. In January 1945, as the Soviet armies resumed their offensive and advanced from the east, the prisoners were marched westward in the so-called Long March or Death March. Many of them died from the bitter cold and exhaustion. The lucky ones got far enough to the west to be liberated by the allied armies after some four months of travelling on foot in appalling conditions. Their sufferings, though severe, pale by comparison to those of the Jews of Będzin (see below).
Jews in Będzin
Until World War II, Będzin had a vibrant Jewish community. According to the Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 21,200, Jews constituted 10,800 (around 51% percent). According to the 1921 census the town had a Jewish community consisting of 17,298 people, or 62.1 percent of its total population. In September 1939, the German Army (Wehrmacht) overran this area, followed by the SS death squads (Einsatzgruppen), who burned the Będzin synagogue and murdered 200 Jewish inhabitants. A Będzin Ghetto was created in 1942. Eventually, in the summer of 1943, most of the Jews in Będzin were deported to the nearby German concentration camp at Auschwitz. Since Będzin was one of the last Polish communities to be liquidated, there are a relatively large number of survivors from there, and an extensive collection of their personal photographs were recovered, offering photographic insight into the pre-war life there.
- Rutka Laskier, diarist (1929–1943)
- Jean-Marie Lustiger's parents
- Joshua Prawer, Israeli historian, founder of the crusader studies (1917–1990)
- Andrzej Kubica, former football player (1972- )
- Janusz Gajos, actor (1939- )
- Grzegorz Dolniak, politician (1960–2010)
- Marcel Marceau's father Charles (1895-1944) deported from France and killed at Auschwitz
- Sam Pivnik, birthname Szmuel Piwnik, (1926-), Holocaust survivor and writer of the book Survivor: Auschwitz, The Death March and My Fight for Freedom
Twin towns — Sister cities
Będzin is twinned with:
References and other sources
- European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) 
- Powierzchnia i ludność w przekroju terytorialnym w 2008 - Central Statistical Office in Poland ISSN 1505-5507 , 13.08.2008
- Joshua D. Zimmerman, Poles, Jews, and the politics of nationality, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2004, ISBN 0-299-19464-7, Google Print, p.16
- Jewish Historical Institute community database http://www.jhi.pl/en/gminy/miasto/613.html
- Dissonant Lives: Generations and Violence Through the German Dictatorships By Mary Fulbrook page 176
- "Andrzej Kubica". 90 Minut. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- Weiss, Ann (2005). The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. pp. 32–37. ISBN 0-393-01670-6.
- Mary Fulbrook, A Small Town near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust (Oxford University Press, 2012)
- Official web page of the city of Będzin (Polish)
- Jewish Community in Będzin on Virtual Shtetl
- A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Będzin
- Będzin, Czeladź, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Sławków, Sosnowiec
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