Place:Częstochowa, Ślaskie, Poland

Alt namesChenstokhovsource: Times Atlas of World History (1993) p 341
Czenstochausource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 218
Cz̜estochowasource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Schenstochausource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 218
Tschenstocausource: Rand McNally Atlas (1989) I-800
Tschenstochausource: Family History Library Catalog
Coordinates50.8°N 19.117°E
Located inŚlaskie, Poland     (1200 - )
Also located inKatowice, Poland    
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

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

Częstochowa is a city in southern Poland on the Warta River with 214,342 inhabitants, making it the thirteenth-largest city in Poland.[1] It is situated in the Silesian Voivodeship (administrative division) since 1999, and was previously the capital of the Częstochowa Voivodeship (1975–1998). However, Częstochowa is historically part of the Lesser Poland region, not of Silesia, and before 1795, it belonged to the Kraków Voivodeship. Częstochowa is located in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. It is the largest economic, cultural and administrative hub in the northern part of the Silesian Voivodeship.

The city is known for the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra, which is the home of the Black Madonna painting, a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to Częstochowa to see it. The city also was home to the Jewish Frankist movement in the late 18th and the 19th century.

The city has undertaken excavation of an ancient site of Lusatian culture, and has a museum devoted to this. The ruins of a medieval castle stand in Olsztyn, approximately from the city centre (see also Trail of the Eagles' Nests).



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

A Lusatian culture cemetery from around 750 BC–550 BC is located in the present-day district of Raków and it is now an Archaeological Reserve, a branch of the Częstochowa Museum.

According to archaeological findings, the first medieval settlement in the location of Częstochowa was established in the late 11th century within Piast-ruled Poland. It was first mentioned in historical documents from 1220, when Bishop of Kraków Iwo Odrowąż made a list of properties of the Mstów monastery. Two villages, Częstochowa and Częstochówka were mentioned in the document. Both of them belonged to the basic territorial unit of Slavic Polish tribes (opole), with its capital at Mstów. Częstochówka was located on a hill, where the Jasna Góra Monastery was later built.

In the late 13th century Częstochowa became the seat of a Roman Catholic parish church, which was under the Lelów deanery. The village was located in the northwestern corner of Kraków Land, Lesser Poland, near the Royal Castle at Olsztyn. Częstochowa developed along a busy merchant road from Lesser Poland to Greater Poland. The village was ruled by a starosta, who stayed at the Olsztyn Castle.

It is not known when Częstochowa was granted a town charter, as no documents have been preserved. It happened sometime between 1356–1377. In 1502, King Alexander Jagiellon granted a new charter, based on Magdeburg rights to Częstochowa. In 1382 the Paulist monastery of Jasna Góra was founded by Vladislaus II of Opole – the Polish Piast prince of Upper Silesia. Two years later the monastery received its now-famous Black Madonna icon of the Virgin Mary; in subsequent years became a centre of pilgrimage, contributing to the growth of the adjacent town.[2]

Częstochowa prospered in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, due to efforts of Sigismund I the Old, the future king of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. At that time, Sigismund ruled the Duchy of Głogów, and frequently visited Częstochowa on his way to the Duchies of Silesia (1498, 1502, 1502, 1503, 1505, 1505, 1506). In 1504, Częstochowa was granted the right to collect tolls on the Warta river bridge. In 1508, Częstochowa was allowed to organise one fair a year; in 1564, the number of fairs was increased to three annually, and in 1639 to six. In the year 1631, Częstochowa had 399 houses, but at the same time, several residents died in a plague, after which 78 houses were abandoned.[2]

In the first half of the 17th century, kings of the House of Vasa turned the Jasna Góra Monastery into a modern Dutch-style fortress. During the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655, the monastery was one of the pockets of Polish resistance against the Swedish armies (for more information, see Siege of Jasna Góra). The town of Częstochowa was almost completely destroyed by Swedish soldiers. It has been estimated that the town lost 50% of the population, and 60% of houses. But the town suffered less severe destruction than such area towns as Przyrów, Olsztyn and Mstów. It took several years for Częstochowa to recover from extensive losses. As late as in the 1680s there still were ruined houses in the town.

At the same time, the Jasna Góra Monastery prospered. On February 27, 1670, the wedding of the king Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki to princess Eleonore of Austria took place here. In 1682 the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa brought thousands of pilgrims from both Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Silesia. The Jewish community in Częstochowa developed by about 1700.[2]

During the Great Northern War, Częstochowa was captured by the Swedish army on August 11, 1702. In February 1703 Swedes besieged the monastery, but failed to seize it. In April 1705 the Swedes returned, and appeared at the monastery again in September 1709. Unable to capture the fortified stronghold, they looted villages in the area, set Częstochowa on fire, and left towards Wieluń. At that time, a village of Częstochówka also existed next to Częstochowa. The village belonged to the monastery and quickly developed. In 1717 it was granted town charter, and its name was changed into Nowa Częstochowa (New Częstochowa). The town was completely destroyed during the Bar Confederation. On February 8, 1769, the monastery was seized by rebels of the Bar Confederation, commanded by Kazimierz Pułaski. Soon the stronghold was besieged by Russians under German-born General Johann von Drewitz. The Russians gave up on January 15, 1771.[2]

In 1789, the population of Częstochowa (also called Stara Częstochowa, Old Częstochowa) was app. 1,600, which was less than in the 15th century. After the Great Sejm passed the Constitution of May 3, 1791, local Sejmiks were obliged to legitimize it. On February 14–15, 1792, a sejmik of the szlachta of northern part of Kraków Voivodeship (counties of Lelów and Książ Wielki) took place in Częstochowa. Traditionally, local sejmiks were organized in Żarnowiec; the fact that it was moved to Częstochowa confirms the growing importance of the town.

In 1760, Jacob Frank, the leader of a Jewish sect mixing Kabbalah, Catholicism and Islam, was imprisoned for heresy in the monastery by the church. His followers settled near him, later establishing a cult of his daughter Eve Frank. In August 1772, Frank was released by the Russian general Aleksandr Bibikov, who had occupied the city. Frank had promised the Russians that he would convince Jews to convert to Orthodox Christianity.[2]

Partitions of Poland

During the Second Partition of Poland, Częstochowa was seized by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1793, and incorporated into the newly formed province of South Prussia, Department of Kalisz (Kalisch). The Old Częstochowa became the seat of a county (see Districts of Prussia). During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1807 Częstochowa became part of the Duchy of Warsaw. In 1815 it came under Russian-controlled Congress Poland, in which it remained until World War I. Old Częstochowa remained the seat of a county in 1807–1830. In 1809, the monastery was unsuccessfully besieged by Austrians (see Polish–Austrian War). On April 2, 1813, Jasna Góra was seized by the Russians (see War of the Sixth Coalition), after a two-week siege,[2] and the fortifications were razed that year.

In 1821, the government of Congress Poland carried out a census, according to which the population of New Częstochowa was 1,036, while the population of Old Częstochowa was 2,758. Furthermore, almost four hundred people lived in several settlements in the area (Zawodzie, Stradom, Kucelin). The idea of a merger of both towns was first brought up in 1815. In 1819, military architect Jan Bernhard planned and started the construction of Aleja Najświętszej Panny Marii—the Holy Virgin Mary Avenue, which is the main arterial road of the modern city. It connected Old Częstochowa with New Częstochowa.

Finally, the two towns were officially merged on August 19, 1826. The new city quickly emerged as the fourth-largest urban centre of Congress Poland; surpassed only by the cities of Warsaw, Lublin, and Kalisz. On September 8, 1862, a patriotic rally took place in the city, in front of St. Sigismund church. As a reprisal, Russian military authorities destroyed app. 65% of Częstochowa's Old Town, and introduced martial law . During the January Uprising, several skirmishes took place in the area of Częstochowa, with the last one taking place on July 4, 1864 near Chorzenice.

In 1846 the Warsaw-Vienna Railway line was opened, linking the city with the rest of Europe. After 1870 iron ore started to be developed in the area, which gave a boost to the local industry. Among the most notable investments of the epoch was the Huta Częstochowa steel mill built by Bernard Hantke, as well as several textile mills and paper factories.

In 1900, the traveling cinema of brothers Władysław and Antoni Krzemiński came to the city for the first time, after it was founded in Łódź in 1899 as the oldest Polish cinema. In 1909, they settled in Częstochowa and founded Kino Odeon, the first permanent cinema in the city.[3]

Up to the Second World War, like many other cities in Europe, Częstochowa had a significant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 45,130, Jews constituted 12,000 (so around 26% percent). An anti-Semitic pogrom occurred in 1902, Częstochowa pogrom (1902). A mob attacked the Jewish shops, killing fourteen Jews and one gendarme.

Częstochowa entered the 20th century as one of the leading industrial centres of Russian Poland (together with Warsaw, Łódź, and Zagłębie Dąbrowskie). The city was conveniently located on the Warta and other smaller rivers (Kucelinka, Stradomka, Konopka). Real estate and land prices were low, compared to Łódź. The monastery attracted numerous pilgrims, who also were customers of local businesses. In 1904, Częstochowa had 678 smaller workshops, which employed 2,000 workers. In 1902, rail connection to the Prussian border crossing at Herby Stare was opened, and in 1911, the line to Kielce was completed. The Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland (1905–1907) began in Częstochowa as early as May 1904, when first patriotic rallies took place. On December 25, 1904, a man named Wincenty Makowski tried to blow up a monument of Tsar Alexander II, which stood in front of the monastery. In February 1905, a general strike action was declared in the city, with workers demanding pay rises. In June 1905 street clashes took place in Częstochowa, in which 20 people were killed by Russian forces. Further protests took place in 1909 and 1912.[2]

World War I

In early August 1914, Częstochowa was abandoned by the Imperial Russian Army, and the first units of the German Army entered the city on August 3. Four days later drunken German soldiers shot at each other; an unknown number died. Residents of the city were accused of killing Germans, and as a punishment, a number of civilians were executed. During the German occupation (1914–1918), Częstochowa was cut off from its prior Russian markets, which resulted in widespread poverty and unemployment. Furthermore, German authorities closed down several factories, urging unemployed workers to migrate to Upper Silesia, where they replaced men drafted into the army. Altogether, some 20,000 left for Upper Silesia and other provinces of the German Empire. On February 2, 1915, Częstochowa was visited by Charles I of Austria. Four days later Emperor Wilhelm II came to the city, and on May 17, 1915, Częstochowa hosted King of Saxony Frederick Augustus III.

Unlike the city of Częstochowa, since April 26, 1915, the Jasna Góra Monastery had been under the control and protection of Austria-Hungary, after the personal intervention of Emperor Franz Joseph I, who was a pious Roman Catholic. The monastery was manned by soldiers under Austrian Army Captain Josef Klettinger and remained under Austrian control until November 4, 1918. In October 1917, the City Council of Częstochowa demanded permission to destroy the monument to Tsar Alexander II, to which General Governor of Warsaw Hans Hartwig von Beseler agreed. Polish authorities established control over the entire city on November 11, 1918, the day of the re-establishment of Poland's independence.

Second Polish Republic

On November 12, 1918, three companies of the freshly created Polish Army marched along the Holy Virgin Mary Avenue. In 1919–1921, Częstochowa was one of the centres of support of Silesian Poles fighting in the Silesian Uprisings. On December 4, 1920, Symon Petliura arrived, together with app. 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers. Their arrival spurred widespread protests, as the city already had a desperate food situation and was obliged to house and feed the Ukrainians.

In the Second Polish Republic, Częstochowa belonged to Kielce Voivodeship (Kieleckie), where since 1928 it constituted City County of Częstochowa. In the 1920s, the local industry still suffered from World War I losses, and having been cut off from Russian markets. Unemployment remained high, and thousands of workers left for France in search of jobs. The Great Depression was particularly difficult, resulting in strikes and workers' street clashes with the police.

In 1925, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Częstochowa was created. The city grew in size, when between 1928 and 1934, several local settlements and villages were incorporated into city limits. In 1939, the population of Częstochowa was 138,000, which made it the 8th-largest city of Poland. In 1938, the Polish government announced plans to liquidate Kielce Voivodeship, and create Sandomierz Voivodeship (Sandomierskie), based on Central Industrial Area. According to these plans, Częstochowa was to be transferred either to Łódź Voivodeship (Łódzkie), or Silesian Voivodeship (Ślaskie), together with Zagłębie Dąbrowskie.

World War II

In the Polish Defensive War of 1939, Częstochowa was defended by the 7th Infantry Division, part of northern wing of Kraków Army. After the Battle of Mokra and other battles, Polish forces withdrew, and the Wehrmacht entered the city on Sunday, September 3, 1939. Częstochowa was renamed by the Germans as Tschenstochau, and incorporated into the General Government. Monday, September 4, 1939, became known as Bloody Monday or also Częstochowa massacre. The Germans killed 227 people (205 ethnic Poles and 22 Jews) in various places in the city, including the town hall courtyard, town squares and at a local factory (some estimates of victims put the number at more than 1,000; 990 ethnic Poles and 110 Jews).

From the beginning of the occupation, the Germans initiated a plan of cultural and physical extermination of the Polish nation (see Nazi crimes against the Polish nation). By decision from September 5, 1939, one of the first three German special courts in occupied Poland was established in the city. On September 6, 1939, the Einsatzgruppe II entered the city to commit atrocities against the population. On September 14–15, 1939, the Germans arrested around 200 inhabitants of the district of Stradom. In order to terrorize the Polish population, on November 9–11, 1939, the Germans carried out mass arrests of dozens of Poles, including the mayor, vice-mayor, teachers, students, activists and local officials, but they were soon released. During the AB-Aktion, the Germans carried out mass arrests of Poles in March, June and August 1940, and also imprisoned 60 Poles from Radomsko and the Radomsko County in the local prison in March 1940. Arrested Poles were then either deported to the Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Ravensbrück concentration camps or massacred in the nearby forests of Olsztyn and Apolonka. Among the victims of the massacres committed in Olsztyn were school principals, teachers, lawyers, policemen, merchants, craftsmen, pharmacists, engineers, students and local officials, and among the victims of the Apolonka massacres were 20 girl scouts.[4] Further executions of local Poles were carried out by the Germans throughout the war.

Under German occupation Częstochowa administratively was a city-county (Stadkreis Tschenstochau), part of the Radom District of the General Government. The Polish resistance movement was active in the city, and units of the Home Army and National Armed Forces (NSZ) operated in its area. A branch of the secret Polish University of the Western Lands was located in the city, and it secretly continued Polish education. The secret Polish Council to Aid Jews "Żegota", established by the Polish resistance movement operated in the city. On April 20, 1943, a NZS unit attacked the local office of the Bank Emisyjny w Polsce. After the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising, Częstochowa briefly was the capital of the Polish Underground State.

On April 9, 1941, the Nazi Germans had created a ghetto for Jews in the city. During World War II approximately 45,000 of Częstochowa's Jews, almost the entire Jewish community living here, were killed by the Germans. Life in German-occupied Częstochowa is depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman, the son of a Jewish Częstochowa resident. Before the Holocaust, Częstochowa was considered a great Jewish centre in Poland. By the end of World War II, nearly all Jews had been killed or deported to extermination camps to be killed, making Częstochowa what Nazi Germany called judenfrei. There are many known cases of local Polish men and women, who were captured and persecuted by the Germans for rescuing and aiding Jews. These Poles were sentenced to death, prison or concentration camps, in which some died, some survived, while the fate of many remains unknown. Poles who saved Jews in other places in the region were also either sentenced to death by the local German court or incarcerated in the local prison. They Germans also tried to obscure the Catholic shrine and pilgrim devotion by renaming the roud leading to the pilgrimage church after Hitler, though they did allow some pilgrimage activity to continue.

During and after the Warsaw Uprising, in August–October 1944, the Germans deported thousands of Varsovians from the Dulag 121 camp in Pruszków, where they were initially imprisoned, to Częstochowa. Those Poles were mainly old people, ill people and women with children.[5] In late December 1944, there were 14,671 registered Poles, who were expelled from Warsaw.[5]

In the autumn 1944, Germans fortified the city, preparing for a lengthy defence. On January 16, 1945, however, the Wehrmacht retreated after just one day of fighting. The city was restored to Poland, however, with a Soviet-installed communist regime, which remained in power until the Fall of Communism in the 1980s.

Recent period

Due to the communist idea of fast industrialisation, the inefficient steel mill was significantly expanded and named after Bolesław Bierut. This, combined with the growing tourist movement, led to yet another period of fast city growth, concluded in 1975 with the creation of a separate Częstochowa Voivodeship (Częstochowskie). In the immediate post-war period, Częstochowa belonged to Kielce Voivodeship (1945–1950), and then the city was transferred to Katowice Voivodeship (Katowickie). In the Polish People's Republic, Częstochowa emerged not only as an industrial, but also academic centre of the region. The city expanded, with the first tram lines opened in 1959. On January 1, 1977, several villages and settlements were annexed by Częstochowa. As a result, the area of the city expanded from .

In modern times, Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Black Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Częstochowa in 1983 and again in 1987, 1991, 1997 and 1999. On August 15, 1991, John Paul II was named Honorary Citizen of Częstochowa. On May 26, 2006, the city was visited by Pope Benedict XVI.

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