Timeline of Jewish-Polish history

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This article presents the timeline of selected events concerning the history of the Jews in Poland beginning with the formation of the Polish state under its first ruler, Mieszko I of Poland.


960 A Jewish merchant and slave trader from Spain, Ibrahim Ibn Jaqub (Abraham ben Jakov), travels to Poland and writes the first description of the country and the city of Kraków. Jewish traders are very active in Central Europe. Mieszko I mints coins with Hebrew letters on them, though some attribute the coins to the times of Mieszko the Old.[1]

1264 Polish Prince Boleslaus the Pious issues Statute of Kalisz – The General Charter of Jewish Liberties in Poland, an unprecedented document in medieval history of Europe that allows Jews personal freedom, legal autonomy and separate tribunal for criminal matters as well as safeguards against forced baptism and blood libel. The Charter is ratified again by subsequent Polish Kings: Casimir the Great of Poland in 1334, Casimir IV of Poland in 1453, and Sigismund I the Old of Poland in 1539.

1334 Casimir the Great of Poland ratifies again the General Charter of Jewish Liberties in Poland.

1343 Persecuted in Western Europe, the Jews are invited to Poland by King Casimir the Great.

After massive expulsions of Jews from the Western Europe (England, France, Germany, and Spain), they found a refuge in the lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the Jagiellon Era Poland became the home to Europe's largest Jewish population, as royal edicts warranting Jewish safety and religious freedom from the 13th century contrasted with bouts of persecution in Western Europe, especially following the Black Death of 1348–1349, blamed by some in the West on Jews themselves. Large parts of Poland suffered relatively little from the outbreak, while the Jewish immigration brought valuable manpower and skills to the rising state. The greatest increase in Jewish numbers occurred in the 18th century, when Jews came to make up 7% of the Polish population.

1453 Casimir IV of Poland ratifies again the General Charter of Jewish Liberties in Poland.

1500 Some of the Jews expelled from Spain, Portugal and many German cities move to Poland. By the mid sixteenth century, some eighty percent of the world’s Jews lives in Poland,[2] a figure that held steady for centuries.

1501 King Alexander of Poland readmits Jews to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

1525 The first Jew is promoted to knighthood by king Sigismund I of Poland, without being forced to leave Judaism.

1534 King Sigismund I of Poland abolishes the law that required Jews to wear special clothes.

1539 King Sigismund I of Poland ratifies again the General Charter of Jewish Liberties in Poland.

1540–1620 Immigration of Mizrahi Jews from the Ottoman Empire.

1547 The first Hebrew Jewish printing house is founded in Lublin.

1567 The first yeshiva is founded in Poland.

1580–1764 First session of the Council of Four Lands (Va'ad Arba' Aratzot) in Lublin, Poland. 70 delegates from Jewish communities (kehillot) meet to discuss taxation and other issues important to the Jewish community.

1606 Poland first described as "Paradisus Iudaeorum".

1623 The first time a separate Jewish Diet (Va'ad) for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is convened.

1632 King Władysław IV Vasa forbids Anti-Semitic books and printings.

1633 Jews of Poznań are granted a privilege of forbidding Christians to enter into their city quarter.

1648 Jewish population of Poland reaches 450,000 or 60% of the world Jewish population. In Bohemia Jews number 40,000 and in Moravia 25,000. The worldwide Jewish population is estimated at 750,000.

1648–1655 The Ukrainian Cossack Bohdan Khmelnytsky leads Uprising resulting in massacres of Polish szlachta and Jewry that leaves ca. 65,000 Jews dead and similar number of szlachta also. The total decrease in the number of Jews is estimated at 100,000. Poland loses 40% of her population during The Deluge. [1]

1750 Jewish population of Poland reaches 750,000 which constitutes around 70% of the Jewish population in the world which is estimated at 1,200,000.

1759 Unprecedented event of the voluntary conversion of around 3,000 of the followers of Jacob Frank who convert to Catholicism and are accepted into the ranks of Polish nobility szlachta with all the social benefits.

1773–1795 Three partitions of Poland between imperial Russia, the Kingdom of Prussia and imperial Austria. Old Polish privileges of Jewish communities are denounced.

1831 November Uprising against Russian. Small Jewish militia units take part in the defence of Warsaw against Russians.

1860-1863 Jews participate in patriotic manifestations in Warsaw.

1863 Small groups of Jews take part in January Uprising January Uprising.

1862 The privileges of some cities in Russia forbidding Jews to settle down in them are denounced.

1880 World Jewish population numbers around 7.7 million, 90% of which in Europe (mostly Eastern Europe), and around 3.5 million in the former Polish provinces.

1897 The first Russian census numbers 5,200,000 Jews plus 4,900,000 in the Pale. The Kingdom of Poland has 1,300,000 Jews or 14% of its population.

1918 Poland regains independence after 123 years. Jews are granted equal rights in independent Poland.

1921 Polish-Soviet peace treaty in Riga. Citizens of both sides are given rights to choose the country. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, especially shopkeepers or other professionals who are forbidden to work in the Soviet Union, settle in Poland.

1924 2,989,000 Jews according to a census by religion in Poland (10,5% of total). Jewish youth constitutes 23% of students of high schools and 26% of university students.

1930 The world Jewry population numbers 15,000,000, of which the largest numbers live in the USA (4,000,000), Poland (3,500,000 = 11% of total), Soviet Union (2,700,000 = 20% of total), Romania (1,000,000 = 6% of total) and Palestine (175,000 = 1.2% of total).

1933–1939 German Jews attempt to emigrate, but almost all countries close borders for Jews, including United Kingdom and USA. Most Jews find a temporary asylum in Poland.

1939–1945 World War II and the Holocaust (Ha Shoah). Germans in occupied Poland built six major death camps: Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau), Chełmno, Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka.

1946 The Kielce pogrom.

1945-1948 Tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors leave Poland for Israel and the United States.

1964 The Second Vatican Council states in its Nostra aetate Declaration, that the Jews are not responsible for the death of Christ.

1968 Communist regime-sponsored anti-Zionist campaign in Poland. Many Polish Jews emigrate.

Mid 1970s-present – Growing revival of Klezmer music (The folk music of European Jews). ([2], [3]) and Yiddish culture.

1988 - The first Festival of Jewish Culture in Kraków. In 2012, the nine-day Festival attracts around 40,000 visitors.

1989–present – Reestablishment of several Jewish communities in Poland, most notably in Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk and Wrocław.

2006 – Jewish population in Poland is approximately 25,000. (Jewish population) Many Polish Jews are of mixed background (Jewish and Catholic) and discover their Jewish identity later in life.

2010 – Jewish population in Poland is approximately 50,000 and is still growing. The cause of this is because many Jews are returning to homeland Poland. (Jewish population)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Polish Jews Heritage – Genealogy Research Photos Translation". PolishJews.org. 2009. Archived from the original on 29 January 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  2. ^ The Virtual Jewish History Tour – Poland