|Gmina||Zawiercie (urban gmina)|
|• Mayor||Witold Grim|
|• Total||85.24 km2 (32.91 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||400 m (1,300 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||300 m (1,000 ft)|
|• Density||610/km2 (1,600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||42-400 to 42-431|
Zawiercie [zaˈvjɛrt͡ɕɛ] (German: Warthenau) is a city in the Silesian Voivodeship of southern Poland with 51,880 inhabitants (2011). It is situated in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland near the source of the Warta River. The city has also historically been known by the names Zaveyurchy, Zavertse, Zavirtcha, and Zavyerche. The town lies near the historical region of Silesia, but belongs to Lesser Poland. In 1945, it was made a part of the Katowice Voivodeship. Zawiercie is home to a sports club Warta Zawiercie, established in 1921.
Name and location
Zawiercie, even though currently associated with Silesia, belongs to Lesser Poland. The town lies near the source of the Warta river, and its name probably comes from the location. The inhabitants of the ancient village of Kromołów, to reach another village located on the other side of the river, would go behind the Warta, or in Polish - za Wartę. From the perspective of Kromołów, Zawiercie is located behind the Warta. The town is a gateway to the Polish Jura, where several castles, which used to defend western border of Lesser Poland, are located.
Zawiercie has the area of 85 square kilometers, and until 1945, the town was administratively tied with Lesser Poland’s Kielce. It is located along the Warsaw–Vienna railway, and is a road hub, on the National Road Nr. 78.
First mention of the village of Kromołów (now a district of Zawiercie) comes from 1193. In the 14th century, the village was located in western Lesser Poland, along a merchant road from Kraków to Poznań. In 1431, Prince Bolko IV of Opole allowed a man named Mikołaj Czenar to open an inn here, and in his document, the name Zawiercie is mentioned for the first time. In the 15th century, the area became the early center of iron manufacturing, but despite this Zawiercie remained for centuries a small village. Until the 19th century, it was divided into Zawiercie Małe (Small Zawiercie) and Zawiercie Duże (Big Zawiercie), both administratively belonged to the gmina of Kromołów .
After the Partitions of Poland this part of Lesser Poland first belonged to Austria, and since 1815 - to Russian-controlled Congress Poland. Zawiercie owes its development to the construction of the railroads. On December 1, 1847, first train came to the village, along the newly built Warsaw–Vienna railway. This gave Zawiercie a boost, and in the second half of the 19th century, several companies and coal mines were opened in the village, including Zawiercie Steel Plant, opened in 1901. In 1878, construction of a settlement for workers was initiated, with schools, parks and churches. In 1894, Polish Socialist Party organized a mass sit-in at Zawiercie’s Cotton Plant, and by 1914, the population of the village grew to 30,000. Zawiercie finally got its town charter on July 1, 1915.
World War I and the 1920s was a bad time for Zawiercie. Unemployment grew, the steel plant closed and the TAZ factory reduced the number of workers. The situation did not improve until 1927 when Zawiercie County, part of Kielce Voivodeship, was created. In 1939 Zawiercie was directly annexed to the Upper Silesia Province (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln), and its name was changed to Warthenau. After the war, Zawiercie was transferred from Kielce Voivodeship to Katowice Voivodeship
From the Holocaust Archives of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel. On the eve of the Second World War there were 7,000 Jews in Zawiercie - about a quarter of its residents. They made their living primarily from trade, crafts,the clothing industry and the metal industry. Printing houses owned by Jews played a central role in the cultural life in the city. The city had labor unions which were composed of small traders and artisans, as well as two banks, a charitable fund companies and charities. Between the World Wars in Zawiercie there were various Zionist parties and Agudat Israel. The city had a traditional “cheder” (religious primary school),a Talmud Torah, and a school and kindergarten which were part of the “Tarbut” Network. In 1926, A. Bornstein who was head of the Jewish community was also appointed mayor of the town.
There were Pogroms were Zawiercie in 1919 and in 1921 which killed some Jews, and most of the city's Jews were affected - whether physically or having suffered material damage.
The Germans entered Zawiercie on 4 September 1939 and began kidnapping Jews for forced labor and acts of abuse. On 27 September 1939, the Germans imposed on the Jewish population a high ransom payment. At the beginning of 1940 the Germans confiscated all Jewish businesses. On January 5, 1940, they imposed a fine of 10 zloty for every Jewish resident of the city. In April 1940, 600 Jewish refugees from Tz'iishin (Cieszyn) were brought to Zawiercie.
In September 1941, a ghetto was created and a Judenrat (Jewish committee) was established. The Judenrat had to supply the Germans forced labor.
In the winter of 1940/41 the Jews were required to hand over all valuables, furniture and furs. On 22 July 1941, the Germans murdered seven Jews who were accused of communism. The Jewish population in 1941 was 5,500. In the “Aktion” in Zawiercie in May or August 1942, SS, Gestapo and German gendarmes, aided by Polish police, deported about 2,000 residents of the ghetto to Auschwitz. In early 1943, a factory to manufacture uniforms of the German Air Force was created and about 2500 Jews worked there. At the end of 1942 an underground group was formed in Zawiercie by the "Hashomer HaTzair" (Zionist Youth Movement) led by Berl Schwartz. Mordechai Anielewicz (commander of Warsaw Ghetto uprising) from Warsaw visited the underground. The Underground assisted some Jewish families to escape across the border into Slovakia. Some of those smuggled across were captured and murdered. Zawiercie ghetto was liquidated in August 1943. SS, Gestapo, German gendarmes, and Polish police deported to Auschwitz 7000-6000 Jews as well as locals and refugees who were brought from other places. Judenrat members were killed in the city before deportation. At the uniform factory there remained about 500 workers whose deportation was postponed since they were considered essential employees, and they were deported to Auschwitz on 18 October 1943.
Points of interest
- St. Trinity Church at Zawiercie-Skarzyce (16th - 17th century),
- St. Nicolaus Church at Zawiercie-Kromolow (16th century),
- manor house at Zawiercie-Bzow (early 19th century)
- the palace of Stanislaw Szymanski (late 19th century)
- TAZ workers settlement (late 19th century)
Zawiercie and Warsaw-Vienna Railway
In 1847, the Warsaw-Vienna Railway was completed. The railroad connection facilitated the trade between Russia, Germany and Austria. The fact that Zawiercie was located less than one kilometre from the railroad triggered the rapid development of the region. Twenty-five years later, there were coal and iron ore mines in Zawiercie and an industry was developed around the mines in the town. The first industrial plant, a glass factory, started around 1870. Immediately other industries followed; a large cotton spinnery, large weaving mill, iron mining, cast iron, brick manufacturing, sawmill, chemical laboratories, steam and water flour mills, machining, etc. The flourishing economics accelerated the local population growth.
- University of Administration and Management