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Siedlce Today

Siedlce [ˈɕɛdlt​͡sɛ] ( listen) 

(Yiddishשעדליץ Shedlits

RussianСедльце Sedlets (Latinized)) 

is a city in eastern Poland with 77,319 inhabitants (as of 2009). Situated in the Masovian Voivodeship(since 1999), previously the city was the capital of a separate Siedlce Voivodeship (1975–1998).

The city, which is part of the historical province ofLesser Poland, was most probably founded some time before 15th century and was first mentioned under the name of Siedlecz in a document of 1448. In 1503 Daniel Siedlecki erected a new village of the same name nearby and a church in the middle. In 1547 the town, created out of a merger of the two villages, was granted Magdeburg rights by KingSigismund the Old. Until 1807, when it was confiscated by the Russian authorities, it remained aprivate property of several notable magnate families, among them Czartoryski and Ogiński.

During the World War II more than 50% of all buildings in the city, including a historical city hall, were destroyed. The Jewish population perished in the Holocaust.

Jewish history

Up to the Second World War, like many other cities in Europe, Siedlce had a significant Jewish population. At some times, indeed, Jews were the majority of its population.

The presence of Jews at Siedlce is attested from the middle 16th Century - inn keepers, merchants and artisans. A Jewish hospital existed in the town since the early 18 Century.

In 1794 a Beit Midrash (study hall) was founded in the town and 1798 the Jewish cemetery was extended, testifying to the increase of the community. These changes conincided with the town coming under Austrian rule with the Third Partition of Poland. Austrian rule lasted until 1809. It was passed to Russian rule in 1815 formally (in 1813 de facto). Until 1819 the Jewish community ofWarsaw, 90 kilometres to the west, was formally subject to the authority of the Siedlce rabbis.

For much of the 19th Century - a time when the town's population steadiuly increased - Jews were the majority of Siedlce's population: 3,727 (71.5%) in 1839; 4,359 (65%) in 1841; 5,153 (67.5%) in 1858; 8,156 (64%) in 1878. Later on, the percentage of Jews decreased due to non-Jewish migration: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 23,700, Jews constituted 11,400 (so around 48% percent).[1]. In 1890 the old Jewish hospital was replaced by a newer and much bigger one.

Source: http://www.enotes.com/topic/Siedlce

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, secular political and cultural activity was evident among Jews in Siedlce, as in the whole of Eastern Europe. In 1900 the Bund started activity in the town, as did theZionist movement, and many of the town's Jews were adherents of Polish Socialist Party. Between 1911-1939 two Yiddish weeklies were published in the town, and a Jewish highschool was founded during the First World War.

The antisemitic persecutions perptrated by the Black Hundreds in the last decades of Tsarist rule toched Siedlce with a pogrom in 1906, in which 26 Jews perished. In the wake of the First World War the town was affected by the Polish-Soviet War, being occupied by the Red Army in 1920 and by the Polish Army in 1921 - the latter being accompanied by fresh antisemitic manifestations.

The first Polish census, in 1921, recorded 14,685 Jews living in Siedlce, constituting 48% pf the population as in 1897. Their number remained steady in the interwar period, and in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, there were some 15,000 Jews living in the town. Their fate, like that of Polish Jewry in general, was sealed by Nazi Germany occupying Poland.

In 1940 the Nazis exiled to Siedlce some thousand Jews from elsewhere in Poland - especially Lodz,Kalush and Pabianice. In March 1941 - still before the formal decision to implement the "Final Solution" of wholesale extermination the Jews - Nazi forces rampaged for three days in Siedlce, killing many of its Jewish inhabitants. In August of the same year the town's Jews were herded into a ghettoand on October 11941 were completely cut off from the outside world.

In August 1942 some 10,000 of the Siedlce Jews were deported to Treblinka and murdered there. The town's remaining Jews were sent off to extermination on November 25, 1942.

The Siedlce Jewish community was not restored after Nazi defeat, and the town's later history lacked the hitherto conspicuous Jewish component. Survivors of the town's population established an association in Israel which in 1956 published a comprehnsive memorial book on the community's history.[2]. Y. Kravitz, one of the survivors, published in 1971 his memoires entitled "Five Years of Living Hell under Nazi Rule in the City of Siedlce" [3].


  1.  Joshua D. Zimmerman, Poles, Jews, and the politics of nationality, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2004, ISBN 0299194647Google Print, p.16
  2.  Wolf Yesni (ed.) "Memorial to the Siedlce Communiry - 14 Years Since its Destruction" (in Yididsh), 1956
  3.  ,י.קראוויץ, "החיים בגיהנום, חמש שנים תחת שלטון הנאצים בעיר שדליץ", תשל"א