Train station in Zduńska Wola
|County||Zduńska Wola County|
|Gmina||Zduńska Wola (urban gmina)|
|• Mayor||Konrad Pokora|
|• Total||24.58 km2 (9.49 sq mi)|
|• Density||1,700/km2 (4,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Zduńska Wola [ˈzduɲska ˈvɔla] is a town in central Poland with 42,698 inhabitants (2016). Situated in the Łódź Province (since 1999), previously in Sieradz Province (1975–1998). It is the seat of Zduńska Wola County. The town was once one of the largest cloth, linen and cotton weaving centres in Poland and is the birthplace of Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Maksymilian Faktorowicz, the founder of Max Factor cosmetics company.
The town was first mentioned and documented in 1394. Zduńska Wola was then part of an important trade route which crossed through Poland and connected Eastern and Western Europe. Administratively it was located in the Sieradz Voivodeship in the Greater Poland Province of the Polish Crown. Over the course of its history, the town was owned by nobles or industrialists and eventually transformed into a shtetl. At the beginning of the 18th century, Zduńska Wola was purchased by the aristocratic Złotnicki family.
The development of the village is closely linked with the rapid influx of Silesian weavers and textile workers. In 1817, with the contribution and effort of Stefan Złotnicki, the village flourished and became populated with migrants from Silesia, German states and Bohemia. In 1824 the town's population reached 1,400 people, including 150 professional textile laborers in 125 private workshops. Following rapid development, Zduńska Wola received town rights in October 1825.
In 1827 the population had reached 2,758 people and the town possessed 320 buildings, however, only 30 were made of brick or stone. Due to the lack of available space for incoming weavers, the town was expanded and new districts were established by incorporating nearby villages and settlements.
The end of the 19th century was a period of dynamic development, which eventually transformed the rural town into a small industrial centre. In 1909 the population was already 22,504 people. Over 50 new industrial enterprises or textile corporations were set up, which employed 5,200 workers. Zduńska Wola gained the nickname "City of Weavers" and from the 1,360 buildings now standing, approximately 600 were made of brick. In 1892 the first steam brewery was constructed, which contributed to the town's importance in the region. Under the patronage of the Złotnicki family and local business owners, Zduńska Wola was completely remodelled and urbanized; new housing estates were built for the workers and the first city park was opened during this period.
In 1903 the region was connected with Kalisz and Łódź by rail. In 1902 Zenon Anstadt, a member of a wealthy family of brewers from Łódź, was responsible for the continuous development of the town's infrastructure. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the population of the city was 28,437 people. Under the Imperial German occupation during World War I, the town's population fell to just 12,000 in 1918.
After Poland regained independence in 1918, the city with its industries was rebuilt from the devastation of war. Alongside the former textile industry, new metallurgical enterprises, power plants, public schools, gymnasiums, city hospital and a fire station were established. In 1930 Zduńska Wola became an important transport hub, when it was connected by rail with the Polish port of Gdynia on the Baltic Sea. By 1939 Zduńska Wola was the largest city in the western part of Łódź Voivodeship (province).
World War II
During the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, which started World War II, Germany invaded the town in September 1939, and then the Einsatzgruppe III entered the town to commit various crimes against the populace. The German occupiers incorporated the town directly into the newly formed Wartheland province of Nazi Germany, and changed the town's name to Freihaus to erase traces of Polish origin.
In November 1939, the Germans carried out a public execution of six Polish hostages from nearby Sieradz, and in December 1939 they carried out the first expulsions of 420 Poles. During the Intelligenzaktion, the Germans arrested 169 members of the local Polish intelligentsia already in 1939, and further 187 in 1940–1941. Among the victims were local officials, activists, members of the Polish underground resistance movement and Catholic priests. In total several thousand Poles were deported to forced labour, expelled or arrested. As local Nazi German governor Arthur Greiser expressed during a meeting with the townspeople, Poles were supposed to be servants for the Germans. Germany operated a transit camp for German settlers, who were resettled in occupied Poland as part of the Lebensraum policy. Nevertheless, several Polish resistance organizations operated in the town and among their activities were secret trainings, intelligence, distribution of underground Polish press, sabotage actions and secret schooling.
Nearly all members of the prominent and large Jewish population of Zduńska Wola of around 8,000 at the beginning of the war were murdered as part of the Holocaust On arrival of the German troops in September 1939, local ethnic Germans and Poles looted Jewish property. The Germans shot several Jews at that time and burned the synagogue. Over the next several months, the Jewish community was robbed, brutalized, and confined to a ghetto area. In 1940 and 1941, Jews from other locations were moved into the ghetto which population increased to around 11,000, crowded together and may without means of support. In August 1942, the Jewish population were gathered together. Several hundred were sent to the Łódź ghetto. Hundreds were shot in the Zduńska Wola cemetery. More than 6,000 and perhaps as many as 9,000 were sent to the Chełmno extermination camp where they were immediately gassed.
About 60 of Zduńska Wola's Jewish population are thought to have survived the war. The German administrator who oversaw the final selection, Hans Biebow, was tried, convicted, and executed after the war for his crimes in Lodz and Zduńska Wola. In contrast, the head of the Jewish council in the town was lauded for his uprightness. Murdered by Biebow after the selection in August, he had refused to collaborate with the Germans or betray his fellow Jews.
The town was captured by the Soviets in January 1945, and then restored to Poland, however with a Soviet-installed communist regime, which then stayed in power until the Fall of Communism in the 1980s. The town also suffered heavy destruction in the war.
Under socialism, between 1945 and 1989, Zduńska Wola and Łódź regained their pre-war importance as the textile industrial centres of central Poland. Since 2014, the town has seen many opportunities and investments, and continues to flourish in the service sector.
The museums of Zduńska Wola are the Museum of the History of Zduńska Wola, the railway museum in the Karsznice district and a museum dedicated to Saint Maximilian Kolbe located at his birthplace.
Twin towns - Sister cities
Famous people from Zduńska Wola
- Danuta Dudzińska-Wieczorek
- Max Factor, Sr.
- Magda Femme
- Riwka Herszberg
- Maximilian Kolbe
- Lazar Lyusternik
- Justyna Majkowska
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- Wardzyńska, Maria (2017). Wysiedlenia ludności polskiej z okupowanych ziem polskich włączonych do III Rzeszy w latach 1939-1945 (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. p. 182. ISBN 978-83-8098-174-4.
- Studnicka-Mariańczyk, Karolina (2018). "Zakład Karny w Sieradzu w okresie okupacji hitlerowskiej 1939–1945". Zeszyty Historyczne (in Polish). 17: 193.
- "Historia miejscowości - Informacje o mieście - Zduńska Wola - Wirtualny Sztetl". www.sztetl.org.pl. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- Megargee, Geoffrey (2012). Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos. Bloomington, Indiana: University of Indiana Press. p. Volume II 121-124. ISBN 978-0-253-35599-7.
- "Współpraca zagraniczna". zdunskawola.pl (in Polish). Zduńska Wola. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
Media related to Zduńska Wola at Wikimedia Commons