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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 trader from Spain, Ibrahim ibn Yaqub (Abraham ben Jacob), 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.
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,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.
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). (, ) 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.
Casimir IV was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440 and became King of Poland in 1447, holding both titles until his death. He was one of the most active Polish-Lithuanian rulers; under him, Poland defeated the Teutonic Knights in the Thirteen Years' War and recovered Pomerania.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, or simply Poland–Lithuania, was a bi-confederal state, sometimes called a federation, of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th- to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered almost 1,000,000 km2 (400,000 sq mi) and as of 1618 sustained a multi-ethnic population of almost 12 million. Polish and Latin were the two co-official languages.
Pszczyna is a town in southern Poland with 25,823 inhabitants (2019), and a seat of a local gmina (commune). It is situated in the Silesian Voivodeship, and was a part of the Katowice Voivodeship from 1975 until administrative reforms in 1998.
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Ashkenazi Jewish community in the world. Poland was a principal center of Jewish culture, because of the long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy which ended after the Partitions of Poland in the 18th century. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany and its collaborators of various nationalities, during the German occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1945, called the Holocaust. Since the fall of communism in Poland, there has been a renewed interest in Jewish culture, featuring an annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programs at Polish secondary schools and universities, and the opening of Warsaw's Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The Polish Golden Age was the Renaissance period in Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, roughly corresponding to the period of rule of the King Sigismund I the Old (1506–1548) and his son, Sigismund II Augustus, the last of the Jagiellonian Dynasty monarchs, until his death in 1572. Some historians argue that the Polish Golden Age continued into the mid-17th century, when the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was ravaged by the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648–57) and by the Swedish and Russian invasion. During its Golden Age, the Commonwealth became one of the largest kingdoms of Europe, stretching from modern Estonia in the north to Moldavia in the east and Bohemia in the west.
The Khmelnytsky Uprising, also known as the Cossack–Polish War, or the Khmelnytsky insurrection, was a Cossack rebellion that took place between 1648 and 1657 in the eastern territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which led to the creation of a Cossack Hetmanate in Ukraine. Under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the Zaporozhian Cossacks, allied with the Crimean Tatars and local Ukrainian peasantry, fought against Polish domination and Commonwealth’s forces. The insurgency was accompanied by mass atrocities committed by Cossacks against the civilian population, especially against the Roman Catholic and Ruthenian Uniate clergy and the Jews, as well as savage reprisals by Jeremi Wiśniowiecki, the voivode of the Ruthenian Voivodeship.
Dukla is a town and an eponymous municipality in southeastern Poland, in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship. As of December 2021, the town has a population of 2,017. The total area of the commune is 333.04 square kilometres (128.59 sq mi). Dukla belongs to Lesser Poland, and until the Partitions of Poland it was part of Biecz County, Kraków Voivodeship.
The history of the Jews in Poland before the 18th century covers the period of Jewish-Polish history from its origins, roughly until the political and socio-economic circumstances leading to the dismemberment of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the second half of the 18th century by the neighbouring empires.
The 18th century for the Jews of Poland was a tumultuous period as political unrest in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth led to changes in the treatment and behavior of Jews living within its territory. The ascent of the Wettin dynasty to the Polish throne, as well as the government's difficulties in procuring taxes led to a waning of previous policies of religious tolerance in Poland, and the partitions of Poland during the second half of the century led to widespread violence as the government's power faltered and various regional powers and separatist movements fought for control of the territory.
The history of the Jews in Lithuania spans the period from the 14th century to the present day. There is still a small community in the country, as well as an extensive Lithuanian Jewish diaspora in Israel, the United States and other countries.
The history of the Jews in Belarus begins as early as the 8th century. Jews lived in all parts of the lands of modern Belarus. In 1897, the Jewish population of Belarus reached 910,900, or 14.2% of the total population. Following the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1920), under the terms of the Treaty of Riga, Belarus was split into Eastern Belorussia and Western Belorussia, and causing 350,000-450,000 of the Jews to be governed by Poland. Prior to World War II, Jews were the third largest ethnic group in Belarus and comprised more than 40% of urban population. The population of cities such as Minsk, Pinsk, Mahiliou, Babrujsk, Viciebsk, and Homiel was more than 50% Jewish. In 1926 and 1939 there were between 375,000 and 407,000 Jews in Belarus or 6.7-8.2% of the total population. Following the Soviet annexation of Eastern Poland in 1939, including Western Belorussia, Belarus would again have 1,175,000 Jews within its borders, including 275,000 Jews from Poland, Ukraine, and elsewhere. It is estimated 800,000 of 900,000 — 90% of the Jews of Belarus —were killed during the Holocaust. According to the 2019 Belarusian census, there were 13,705 self-identifying Jews in Belarus, of which most are of Ashkenazi origin. However, the Israeli embassy in Belarus claims to know about 30-50 thousand Belarusians with Jewish descent.
Kraków is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland, with the urban population of 756,441 (2008). Situated on the Vistula river in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918, and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
The early modern era of Polish history follows the Late Middle Ages. Historians use the term early modern to refer to the period beginning in approximately 1500 AD and lasting until around 1800.
Mstów is a village in Częstochowa County, Silesian Voivodeship, in southern Poland. It is the seat of an administrative district called Gmina Mstów. It lies approximately 13 kilometres (8 mi) east of Częstochowa and 68 km (42 mi) north of the regional capital Katowice. Mstów lies on the Warta river, in western part of historic province of Lesser Poland. The village is known for its fortified Roman Catholic monastery.
The period of rule by the Piast dynasty between the 10th and 14th centuries is the first major stage of the history of the Polish state. The dynasty was founded by a series of dukes listed by the chronicler Gall Anonymous in the early 12th century: Siemowit, Lestek and Siemomysł. It was Mieszko I, the son of Siemomysł, who is now considered the proper founder of the Polish state at about 960 AD. The ruling house then remained in power in the Polish lands until 1370. Mieszko converted to Christianity of the Western Latin Church in an event known as the Baptism of Poland in 966, which established a major cultural boundary in Europe based on religion. He also completed a unification of the Lechitic tribal lands that was fundamental to the existence of the new country of Poland.
The rule of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Poland between 1386 and 1572 spans the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period in European history. The Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila founded the dynasty; his marriage to Queen Jadwiga of Poland in 1386 strengthened an ongoing Polish–Lithuanian union. The partnership brought vast territories controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania into Poland's sphere of influence and proved beneficial for both the Polish and Lithuanian people, who coexisted and cooperated in one of the largest political entities in Europe for the next four centuries.
The history of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1648) covers a period in the history of Poland and Lithuania, before their joint state was subjected to devastating wars in the middle of the 17th century. The Union of Lublin of 1569 established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a more closely unified federal state, replacing the previously existing personal union of the two countries. The Union was largely run by the Polish and increasingly Polonized Lithuanian and Ruthenian nobility, through the system of the central parliament and local assemblies, but from 1573 led by elected kings. The formal rule of the nobility, which was a much greater proportion of the population than in other European countries, constituted a sophisticated early democratic system, in contrast to the absolute monarchies prevalent at that time in the rest of Europe.
The Jagiellonian or Jagellonian dynasty, otherwise the Jagiellon dynasty, the House of Jagiellon, or simply the Jagiellons, was the name assumed by a cadet branch of the Lithuanian ducal dynasty of Gediminids upon reception by Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, of baptism as Władysław in 1386, which paved the way to his ensuing marriage to the Queen Regnant Jadwiga of Poland, resulting in his ascension to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland as Władysław II Jagiełło, and the effective promotion of his branch to a royal dynasty. The Jagiellons reigned in several European countries between the 14th and 16th centuries. Members of the dynasty were Kings of Poland (1386–1572), Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Kings of Hungary, and Kings of Bohemia and imperial electors (1471–1526).
This article presents the timeline of selected events concerning the history of the Jews in Lithuania and Belarus from the fourteenth century when the region was ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.