The Old Town (Stare Miasto), aerial view
|• Mayor||Stanisław Jastrzębski|
|• Total||17.20 km2 (6.64 sq mi)|
|• Density||740/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Brzeg Dolny [ˈbʐɛɡ ˈdɔlnɨ] (until 1945 German: Dyhernfurth) is a town in Wołów County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland. It is located 31 km (19 mi) north-west of Wrocław on the Oder River, and is the site of a large chemical plant complex, PCC Rokita SA. As of 2006, the town's population was 12,786.
Brzeg Dolny was first mentioned in a 1353 deed as a part of the Duchy of Wrocław (German: Breslau), then within the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. In 1660, it was bought by the German chancellor Baron George Abraham von Dyhrn (1620–1671) of the Dyhrn family. In 1663, it officially received the name Dyhernfurth, after the Dyhrn family, and was granted town privileges by Emperor Leopold I of Habsburg. The baron made efforts to expand the new town, opening a Catholic school for boys and building a chapel under the patronage of St. Hedwig. The year 1668 saw the establishment of a printing house and the construction of a wooden pipe to draw water directly from the river into town. In 1742, after the First Silesian War, the duchy became part of Prussia and remained in Prusso-German possession until 1945.
As early as the 17th century, the Dyhrns had built a palace for their residence, which stayed in their possession until the early 1780s, when Count Wilhelm von Dyhrn (1749–1813) sold it to the minister of Silesia Karl Georg von Hoym (1739-1807), who had married Baroness Antoinette Louise von Dyhrn und Schönau (1745–1820). The new owners subsequently modernized the Baroque palace and the adjoining park according to the plans of Carl Gotthard Langhans. Langhans also directed the construction of a large neo-classical pavilion perpendicular to the central structure, which became known as the “Little Palace.” Following these changes, the grand complex remained much the same until 1849, when it passed into the hands of Tony von Lazareff. She had it refashioned to resemble a Renaissance château overlooking the Loire. The river bank garden was also given Renaissance character.
In 1860, the first sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo came to Dyhernfurth. In close proximity to the Chapel of St. Hedwig, the nuns established a small convent and a hospital, which would eventually expand into the town hospital of present day.
World War II
During World War II, as part of the Grün 3 program, a plant for the manufacture of the nerve agent tabun was established in Dyhernfurth, producing the nerve agent under the codename Trilon-83. Run by the Anorgana GmbH, a branch of IG Farben, the plant began production in 1942. The Germans utilized the forced labour of prisoners of concentration camps to produce the chemical weapons. Two subcamps of Gross-Rosen - Dyhernfurth I and Dyhernfurth II - were established for this purpose. While the Dyhernfurth I inmates were forced to produce the gas and fill bombs and shells with it, the prisoners of the second camp were primarily forced to work on enlarging the plant.
The plant initially produced shells and aerial bombs using a 95:5 mix of tabun and chlorobenzene, designated "Variant A" before switching in the latter half of the war to "Variant B," an 80:20 mix of tabun and chlorobenzene designed to make the mixture disperse more easily. Large scale manufacturing of the agent resulted in problems with the product's degradation over time and only around 12,500 tons of material were manufactured before the plant was overrun by the advancing Soviet forces.
The Soviets, however, did not capture any tabun at Dyhernfurth. Although they occupied the area of the factory, a German raid was organized by Generalmajor Max Sachsenheimer. A German unit with roughly the strength of a battalion crossed the Oder River early on February 5, 1945, seized the factory, and deployed an anti-tank screen. On that day, the Germans destroyed documentation and evidence of the camp's atrocities and pumped tabun into the Oder River, while the screening force resisted two small-scale Soviet counter-attacks. In the evening of February 5, the German force pulled back behind the Oder River.
Subsequently, the Soviet government had the plant dismantled and taken back to Russia. When the town was handed over to Poland, considerable effort was required to adapt the contaminated and badly damaged factory buildings to production. It was not until 1946 that the plant started producing Sodium hypochlorite. The new plant was named Rokita in June 1947.
In January 1945, as the Soviets launched their massive offensive into eastern Germany, Count Thassilo von Saurma-Hoym, a descendant of Karl Georg von Hoym, left the Dyhernfurth palace along with his family and fled westward. In February, the palace was set on fire, probably by Soviet soldiers. It was rebuilt in the 1950s, albeit with its shape altered. The adjoining pavilion has, however, managed to survive unchanged. Today, the complex functions as a cultural center and the seat of municipal government.
For its emblem, Brzeg Dolny uses the coat of arms of the Dyhrn nobility.
Brzeg Dolny is divided into three main residential neighbourhoods: Stary Brzeg (the Old Brzeg Dolny) by the bank of the Oder, Osiedle Warzyń to the west, and Osiedle Fabryczne to the north-east. The Rokita Chemical Plant stretches east of the town. In the center of Brzeg Dolny is a large (67 hectare) Park Miejski formerly part of the palace complex.
The palace faces the southern side of the park, to which it connects via a short walkway (Al. Pałacowa) leading directly to the largest of the three ponds found within the park. On the park's west side, at Aleje Jerozolimskie (one of the town's main streets), stands the Chapel of St. Hedwig, just north of which is the Convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo. Extending north from the convent (to which it is connected) is the town hospital; north of it, in turn, and still along Aleje Jerozolimskie is a large clinic (Przychodnia Rejonowo-Specjalistyczna). The town has two additional clinics (in Osiedle Warzyń and Osiedle Fabryczne) and a medical center (in Osiedle Warzyń). In Osiedle Warzyń can be found the KHS complex, which features a hotel and a variety of athletic facilities, including swimming pools and tennis courts. Through the town - between Osiedle Warzyń and Osiedle Fabryczne - runs a railway, with a (PKP) train station located on the eastern side of the park toward the south and Stary Brzeg.
Points of interest
Brzeg Dolny has three Roman Catholic parishes: the Parish of Our Lady of the Scapular (Parafia Matki Bożej Szkaplerznej), the Parish of Christ the King (Parafia Chrystusa Króla), and the Parish of Our Lady Queen of Poland (Parafia Matki Bożej Królowej Polski). In addition to two historic churches and chapels, there are two modern parish churches in the town.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Brzeg Dolny is twinned with:
- Duffy, pp. 129-132.
- Duffy, Christopher. "Red Storm on the Reich", New York: Atheneum, 1991. ISBN 0-689-12092-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brzeg Dolny.|
- Brzeg Dolny Home Page
- Jewish Community in Brzeg Dolny on Virtual Shtetl
- Google Maps link
- Jewish Encyclopedia