Place:Beuthen, Schlesien, Preußen, Germany

Alt namesBeuthen
StKr. Beuthensource: FHLC
Bytomsource: FHLC
Located inSchlesien, Preußen, Germany     ( - 1945)
Also located inŚlaskie, Poland    
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Bytom is one of the oldest cities of Upper Silesia, originally recorded as Bitom in 1136, when it was part of the Medieval Kingdom of Poland. Archaeological discoveries have shown that there was a fortified settlement (a gród) here, probably founded by the Polish King Bolesław I the Brave in the early 11th century.

After the fragmentation of Poland in 1138, Bytom became part of the Seniorate Province, as it was still considered part of historic Lesser Poland. In 1177 it became part of the Silesian province of Poland, and remained within historic Silesia since. Bytom received city rights from Prince Władysław in 1254 with its first centrally located market square. The city of Bytom benefited economically from its location on a trade route linking Kraków with Silesia from east to west, and Hungary with Moravia and Greater Poland from north to south. The first Roman Catholic Church of the Virgin Mary was built in 1231. In 1259 Bytom was raided by the Mongols. The Duchy of Opole was split and in 1281 Bytom became a separate duchy, since 1289 under overlordship and administration of the Kingdom of Bohemia. It existed until 1498, when it was re-integrated with the Piast-ruled Duchy of Opole. Due to German settlers coming to the area, the city was being Germanized.

It came under the control of the Habsburg monarchy of Austria in 1526, which increased the influence of the German language. In 1683, Polish King John III Sobieski and his wife Queen Marie Casimire, visited the city, greeted by the townspeople and clergy, on the king's way to the Battle of Vienna. The city became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1742 during the Silesian Wars and part of the German Empire in 1871. In the 19th and the first part of the 20th centuries, the city rapidly grew and industrialized.

Bytom was one of the main centers of Polish resistance against Germanization in Upper Silesia in the 19th century, up until the mid-20th century. Polish social, political and cultural organizations were formed and operated here. From 1848, the newspaper was published here. Poles smuggled large amounts of gunpowder through the city to the Russian Partition of Poland during the January Uprising in 1863. According to the Prussian census of 1905, the city of Beuthen had a population of 60,273, of which 59% spoke German, 38% spoke Polish and 3% were bilingual. In 1895, the "Sokół" Polish Gymnastic Society was established, and, during the Silesian uprisings, in 1919–1920, Polish football clubs Poniatowski Szombierki and Polonia Bytom were founded, which later on, in post-World War II Poland both won the national championship. After World War I, in the Upper Silesian plebiscite of 1921, 74.7% of the votes in Beuthen city were for Germany, and 25.3% were for Poland, due to which it remained in Germany, as part of the Province of Upper Silesia. In the interwar period, Bytom was one of two cities (alongside Kwidzyn) in Germany, in which a Polish gymnasium was allowed to operate. In 1923 a branch of the Union of Poles in Germany was established in Bytom. There was also a Polish preschool, two scout troops and a Polish bank. In a secret Sicherheitsdienst report from 1934, Bytom was named one of the main centers of the Polish movement in western Upper Silesia. Polish activists were persecuted since 1937. The Bytom Synagogue was burned down by Nazi German SS and SA troopers during the Kristallnacht on 9–10 November 1938. Before 1939, the town, along with Gleiwitz (now Gliwice), was at the southeastern tip of German Silesia.

World War II and post-war period

During the German invasion of Poland, which started World War II, the Germans carried out mass arrests of local Poles. On September 1, 1939, the day of the outbreak of the war, Adam Bożek, the chairman of the Upper Silesian district of the Union of Poles in Germany, was arrested in Bytom and then deported to the Dachau concentration camp. The Germans carried out revisions in the Polish gymnasium and the local Polish community centre, 20 Polish activists were arrested on September 4, 1939, then released and arrested again a few days later to be deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Also three Polish teachers, who had not yet fled, were arrested, while the assets of the Polish bank were confiscated. The Einsatzgruppe I entered the city on September 6, 1939, to commit atrocities against Poles. Many Poles were conscripted to the Wehrmacht and died on various war fronts, including 92 former students of the Polish gymnasium. The Beuthen Jewish community was liquidated via the first ever Holocaust transport to be exterminated at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Germans operated a Nazi prison in the city with a forced labour subcamp in the present-day Karb district. There were also multiple forced labour camps within the present-day city limits, including six subcamps of the Stalag VIII-B/344 prisoner of war camp.

In 1945 the city was transferred to Poland as a result of the Potsdam Conference. Its German population was largely expelled by the Soviet Army and the remaining indigenous Polish inhabitants were joined mostly by Poles repatriated from the eastern provinces annexed by the Soviets.

In 2017, the Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver-Zinc Mine and its Underground Water Management System, located mostly in the neighboring city of Tarnowskie Góry, but also partly in Bytom, was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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