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Saturday 12 April 2014

Jewish Katowice

12 th April Saturday 2014

The history of Katowice's Jews is both short and the fate of the Jews in Eastern Europe, horrific. It's been recorded that at the end of the Napoleonic  Wars 1798-1815 there was just one solitary Jew living in Katowice who owned the inn on the site of today's department store Skarbek and who also managed a small brewery and a stable. Persecution under Prussian rule started early and for a Jew to get on it it was expected that he or she should change their name and write in German. In exchange for this Jews were allowed to move freely and settle where they wished. With the completion of a direct connection to Germany in 1846, German Jews began moving to Katowice in a greater number.
The first prayer house was opened in 1855 and first synagogue in 1862.By the turn of 20th century the Jewish population of the city numbered about 2,000. As in other industrial cities  Jews not only prospered in the classic trades of medicine, law and commerce.
 On the day German invaded Poland in 1939 there were somewhere between 9,000 and 13,000 Polish and German Jews living in Katowice. Most were sent to Auschwitz.  After the WWII as many as 1500 Jews returned to the city. Little remains to be seen of pre-war Jewish life in the city today, with the exception of the neglected Jewish cemetery and an obscure monument where synagogue stood.  What a pity.
Jews in synagogue

It was the inn who belonged to the first Jew in Katowice. Currently is a department store.

The first synagogue in Katowice


  1. We have such tragic and often shameful histories to remember and, hopefully, learn from. In Eastern Europe, especially, I think it's especially difficult to turn one's back on the past. Too bad, we keep repeating ourselves!

  2. That is sad so many people killed but that was war time.
    The graveyard though neglected looks interesting.

  3. Dear Sir or Madame,
    I am an owner of a site in Katowice, Poland, where a synagogue existed since 1900. In 1939 the synagogue has been destroyed. It is my dream to rebuild it precisely as it was, in the hope that it can serve religious purposes, including the aspect of rapprochement, but also culture-forming purposes, and it can play another important roles in the life of the citizens of my city.
    I approached the authorities of my city to grant me permission for rebuilding the synagogue, which once was one of the most beautiful buildings of the city and opening of which was a great feast, regardless of one’s religious affiliation. The pennons and flowers with which the citizens decorated their houses and streets on this occasion, were the signs of that. The celebrations took place in the presence of the highest authorities of the city, as well as of many other honourable guests. The report from the opening of this temple, published in no.38 Algemeine Zeituing , 1900, makes a beautiful example of the possibility of multicultural and multinational coexistence among the city citizens.
    Unfortunately, recent authorities of Katowice, are not willing to come back to this beautiful tradition and refuse to grant me permission for rebuilding the synagogue. They are trying to discourage me from the project, using many different clerical tricks and ruses. This is incomprehensible and unexplainable, because there are no factual reasons for refusal. Rebuilding the synagogue would bring back the former architectural and historical harmony, so their justification of the decision is probably nothing more but a provocation streaked with an aversion. The justification of the refusal (attachment 1) is bizarre and shows that the only aim of the clerks is blocking the investment.
    ‘The investment in question is contradict to the project of the plan (currently being prepared) of the destination of the site, with regard to the line of buildings, height of the object, floor space index and the height of the roof.’
    Attachment no 1
    Despite the fact that this site belongs to a private person, and it seems in Poland proprietorship should be respected, the decision of the owner concerning rebuilding of the synagogue, caused in consequence also, that the city stated design work, aimed for taking away part of the site from the owner, which would prevent from rebuilding this historical building forever.
    I ask you for taking interest in this problem and for help. I ask you to support my plans and express your concern about the decisions of the clerks. Demanding an explanation from the authorities of Katowice may change something. Thank you for every potential help. I hope the firm approach against the anti-Semitism of some of the clerks of Urząd Miasta Katowice (the Town Hall) brings success in the form of the permission for rebuilding the synagogue. Let the hope be restored, that Katowice will still be a city of free and tolerant people and the authorities will obey law, not being guided by other discreditable premises.
    Adam Grządziel
    Owner of Plac Synagogi (Synagogue Square) in Katowice
    Katowice Poland
    Contact address : Adam Grządziel Katowice 40-682 Szymanowskiego 10 POLAND
    E mail: raziel@demo.pl
    Contact to Urząd Miasta Katowice
    KATOWICE 40 -003 ulica MŁYNSKA 13
    E mail :  Urzad_Miasta@katowice.eu