Top:Swider River, view between Otwock and Józefów, Middle left: Stefan Jaracz Theater, Middle right: Otwock City Hall, Bottom left: K. I. Gałczyński's College (Liceum im. K. I. Gałczyńskiego), Bottom right:Museum of Calel Perechodnik
|Gmina||Otwock (urban gmina)|
|• Mayor||Zbigniew Szczepaniak|
|• Total||47.33 km2 (18.27 sq mi)|
|Elevation||100 m (300 ft)|
|• Density||910/km2 (2,400/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||05-400 to 05-402|
|Area code(s)||+48 022|
Otwock [ˈɔtfɔt͡sk] ( listen) is a town in central Poland, some 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Warsaw, with 42,765 inhabitants (2004). It is situated on the right bank of Vistula River below the mouth of Swider River. Otwock is home to a unique architectural style called Swidermajer.
Otwock is situated in the Masovian Voivodship since 1999; previously, it was in Warszawa Voivodship (1975–1998). It is the capital of Otwock County. The town covers the area of 47 square kilometers. Forested areas make up 23% of the territory.
Even though the first mention of a village called Otwosko comes from the early 15th century, Otwock did not fully develop until the second half of the 19th century, when in 1877 the Vistula River Railroad was opened, which ran from Mława via Warsaw, to Lublin and Chełm. Otwock, which is located along the line, became a popular suburb, with numerous spas and several notable guests, including Józef Piłsudski and Władysław Reymont who wrote there his Nobel prize-winning novel Chłopi. In 1916 Otwock was incorporated as a town and became the seat of a powiat. In 1936 railway connection Warsaw - Otwock was electrified as the first rail line in Poland.
World War II
Following the Nazi–Soviet Invasion of Poland, a murderous Action T4 euthanasia program was carried out by the Nazi Germans in a local psychiatric hospital. In December 1939, German authorities established a Jewish ghetto in Otwock, in order to confine its Jewish population for the purpose of persecution and exploitation. The Ghetto was liquidated between August and September 19, 1942, when 75% of its Jewish population of 12,000–15,000 numbering at around 8,000 were assembled by the Nazis at a layover yard in Otwock (pictured) and transported in cattle trucks to extermination camps in Treblinka and Auschwitz. Jews who remained were summarily shot at Reymonta Street soon after.
Otwock is a hometown of Irena Sendler (1910 – 2008), the Polish humanitarian who saved thousands of Jewish children during the Holocaust; as well as Krystyna Dańko, both awarded the titles of Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem. Writer Calel Perechodnik, a Jewish Ghetto Policeman from Otwock also hailed from this town. Following the liberation, a children's home for Holocaust survivors was established in Otwock.
Otwock is home to a sports club Start Otwock (founded in 1924). The club is renowned for its weight-lifters such as Szymon Kołecki and Marcin Dołęga. Also, the Start Club's own prodigy is football forward Janusz Żmijewski who in the 1960s played for Legia Warszawa and the national team of Poland.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Otwock is twinned with:
- Świdermajer - The characteristic architectural style of the area
- The statistical data compiled on the basis of "Glossary of 2,077 Jewish towns in Poland" by Virtual Shtetl Museum of the History of the Polish Jews (English), as well as "Getta Żydowskie," by Gedeon, (Polish) and "Ghetto List" by Michael Peters at www.deathcamps.org/occupation/ghettolist.htm (English). Accessed July 12, 2011.
- "The War Against The Jews." The Holocaust Chronicle, 2009. Chicago, Il. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Sabina Bauman, "Czwarty marsz" (The Fourth March of the Living) Linia otwocka September 26, 2005.
- Społeczny Komitet Pamięci Żydów Otwockich i Karczewskich - działania w latach 2002-2007 Sekcja terenowa Polskiej Rady Chrześcijan i Żydów (Otwock Branch of Poland’s Advisory of Christians and Jews); Zbigniew Nosowski, President. (Polish)
- A Time to Heal: The Story of the Children's Home in Otwock an online exhibition by Yad Vashem
- (Polish) Town of Otwock, official website
- (Polish) Otwock info site including local news
- (Polish) Młody Otwock - The Young Otwock [organization], Otwock culture. Events
- (Polish) Otwock Photo Gallery
- (Polish) Photo gallery
- Jewish Community in Otwock on Virtual Shtetl