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PSZCZYNA (English : Pless, German : Pleß) is a town in southern Poland
Poland
with 25,415 inhabitants (2010) within the immediate gmina . There are 33,654 inhabitants within the area of the town and 50,121 in Pszczyna County of which Pszczyna
Pszczyna
is the capital. The town is in the Silesian Voivodeship
Silesian Voivodeship
. It was a part of Katowice Voivodeship from 1975 until administrative reform in 1998 .

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 History

* 2.1 Middle Ages and early modern * 2.2 Late Modern period * 2.3 World War II * 2.4 After 1945

* 3 Population

* 3.1 Jews in Pszczyna
Pszczyna
* 3.2 Protestants in Pszczyna
Pszczyna

* 4 Geography

* 4.1 Topography * 4.2 Climate * 4.3 Land use

* 5 International relations

* 5.1 Twin towns — Sister cities

* 6 People * 7 See also * 8 References * 9 Notes * 10 External links

ETYMOLOGY

There are several different theories about the origins of the name "Pszczyna". Ezechiel Zivier (1868–1925) hypothesized that the land was first owned by Pleszko (alternatively Leszko, or possibly Leszek, Duke of Racibórz
Racibórz
). Polish scholar Aleksander Brückner
Aleksander Brückner
in turn, explained the name based on its old spelling Plszczyna, from the ancient Polish word pło or pleso meaning a lake or a place by the lake – thus suggesting that the name Plszczyna as well as its German equivalent Pleß
Pleß
had similar background. The version by Brückner, suggesting a lakeside rich with marshlands, based on a Proto-Slavic word plszczyna, is generally accepted in literature. Yet another version belongs to Prof. Jan Miodek from Wrocław University
Wrocław University
, who derived the name from the nearby Blszczyna river.

HISTORY

MIDDLE AGES AND EARLY MODERN

The oldest settlement evolved around a small gord and wooden church in what was later known as Stara Wieś . The modern town (around Market Square) was probably founded in the second half of the 13th century. The first reference in sources to the place dates from 1303. The main trading route between Kievan Rus
Kievan Rus
and the Moravian Gate
Moravian Gate
ran through Pszczyna
Pszczyna
in the early Middle Ages , and the small settlement probably provided protective measures for merchants on the ford (surrounded by marshlands) of the small Pszczynka river.

The land around Pszczyna
Pszczyna
was historically part of Lesser Poland
Poland
. Casimir II the Just
Casimir II the Just
ceded the land to Mieszko Plątonogi , another Piast dynasty duke, from the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz
Racibórz
, about 1177. Mieszko Plątonogi was succeeded by other dukes from the lineage of Opole-Racibor: Casimir I of Opole
Casimir I of Opole
, Mieszko II , his brother Władysław Opolski , his two sons— Casimir of Bytom and Bolko I , and finally Leszek , who was the last to preserve the Duchy's independence. In 1327, he was forced to acknowledge sovereignty of John, King of Bohemia . After Leszek died childless in 1336, his lands passed down to his brother-in-law, Nicholas II, Duke of Opava (Mikołaj II), of the Czech royal family of Premyslid .

Mikołaj II, his son John I, Duke of Opava-Ratibor , and his grandson John II, Duke of Opava-Ratibor (Jan II Żelazny) ruled the land for seven decades. In 1407, John II separated the area that is modern-day Pszczyna
Pszczyna
from his duchy as a wittum for his new wife, Helena of Lithuania (Helena Korybutówna, niece of Władysław II Jagiełło
Władysław II Jagiełło
, the king of Poland). The boundaries outlined by John II survived well into the 20th century. The contemporary land of Pszczyna
Pszczyna
is only about half the size it was during the Middle Ages. Pless Castle originally from the 13th century, rebuilt in a Renaissance style in the 17th century

In 1433, Pszczyna
Pszczyna
was attacked by the Hussites
Hussites
, who laid siege to the castle but were eventually repulsed. Helena outlived John II, and reigned until 1449. The land was inherited by her son, Nicholas V and then his widow, Barbara Rockenberg, the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Kraków
Kraków
. She was expelled by her stepson, John IV , who assumed power in the years 1462–1465. His rights were disputed, on the other side, by his brother, Wenceslaus III, Duke of Rybnik . Aggressive policies caused a conflict between Wenceslaus III and the King of Hungary, Maciej Korwin ( Matthias Corvinus
Matthias Corvinus
or Matthias I) . Matthias overran the land and held the duke in captivity until his death. Casimir II, Duke of Cieszyn , the last of the Piast dynasty bloodline, bought the land in 1480, and in turn sold it to Hungarian magnate Aleksy Thurzo in 1517. Two years later, Luis II , King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia
Croatia
instituted the "Free State of Pszczyna", with its owner responsible not to him, but directly to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire . The new state was expanded to enclose fifty villages and four towns (including Bieruń , Mysłowice
Mysłowice
, and Mikołów
Mikołów
), and was sworn allegiance by another 27 vassal villages.

The Thurzo family were in close relations with Polish King Sigismund I the Old . Queen Bona Sforza
Bona Sforza
stayed for a night on her way her the marriage in Kraków
Kraków
with Sigismund (1518). Thurzo's possessions were dissolved over time (stripped of Mysłowice
Mysłowice
in 1536) and eventually, the land of Pszczyna
Pszczyna
was purchased by Balthasar von Promnitz, bishop of Wrocław
Wrocław
, under a special regulation that the land shall be further divided.

LATE MODERN PERIOD

Market Square – Rynek

Pszczyna
Pszczyna
was ravaged and pillaged during the Thirty Years\' War . During the War of Austrian succession
War of Austrian succession
, The Kingdom of Prussia clashed with Habsburg Empire for Silesia and Frederick The Great , the king of Prussia, seized Silesia under the agreement of 1742. The town was pillaged again during the Seven Years\' War . Shortly afterwards, the last Promnitz gave the land to his nephew, Frederic Erdmann.

The next landowners of Erdmann's line, the Anhalts, had governed up to the half of the 19th century, when the rights changed again to the person of Hans Heinrich X from the powerful Hochberg family who held extensive lands around present-day Wałbrzych
Wałbrzych
. The Hochbergs had reached a great prominence and wealth in the 19th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, over 80 percent of population spoke Polish language. When World War I
World War I
erupted, the Hochbergs lent the estate to the German state for the military purpose. The German chief of staff held his headquarters in the castle of Pszczyna, that was often visited by Kaiser Wilhelm II
Wilhelm II
himself.

After the war ended, in the emerging conflict between the newly established Second Polish Republic and the Weimer Republic
Weimer Republic
(Germany) struggled for control over the region. Prince Hans Heinrich XV
Hans Heinrich XV
(Polish : Jan Henryk XV) favored an independence movement for a Silesian Republic or at least Upper Silesia. The latter was supported by Związek Górnośląski (1919–1924) which was financed by him. With the outbreak of the Silesian Uprising , the Hochbergs sided firmly with the German cause and afforded the land to German paramilitary organizations, even for a prison for the Poles. Hans Heinrich XV himself supplied units at his own expense, commanded by his son, Hans Heinrich XVII in a bitter fight for Góra Świętej Anny . Earlier that year (1921) a plebiscite was held to determine the future of the region. In Pszczyna
Pszczyna
county 53 thousand voted for Poland
Poland
and only 18 thousand for Germany. In contrast, voting solely in Pszczyna
Pszczyna
town gave victory to Germany. In the view of voting results and in consequence of the Third Silesian Uprising , the land of Pszczyna
Pszczyna
was granted to the Second Polish Republic . On May 29, 1922, the newly established Polish army in the west officially claimed the city for Poland. The first mayor of city became politician and diplomat Jan Figna.

WORLD WAR II

Historical train station after renovation

During the 1939 Defensive War , fighting occurred in the surroundings of Pszczyna, which can be seen by observing the leftovers of concrete strongholds around the town. In that area, the Battle of Pszczyna
Battle of Pszczyna
took place, where German forces breached main Polish defensive lines protecting the Silesian area. The Nazi Germans murdered 14 Poles suspected of spying on September 14, and they were buried in the nearby forest in an unmarked mass grave.

Between the end of January and beginning of February 1945, the war storm came through Pszczyna
Pszczyna
with no serious damage to the city. Unfortunately, the wooden historic church of Saint Jadwiga burned down in 1939. In January 1945, Nazis evacuated prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
concentration camp. During this evacuation, many inhabitants were killed, some even in the streets. The city was liberated on February 10, 1945.

AFTER 1945

Unlike the rest of Upper Silesia , Pszczyna
Pszczyna
never experienced rapid industrialization. The ELWO factory was expanded and a new creamery and mill were founded. This, however, helped to preserve the historic old town and the palace located in the city center.

POPULATION

In 2010 Pszczyna
Pszczyna
had a population of 25,415.

YEAR 1787 1825 1905 1931 1961 1970 2004

INHABITANTS 2 267 2 063 5 190 7 200 15 340 17 994 26 677

JEWS IN PSZCZYNA

Inscription from the Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish community was small before the edict of 1780 granting Jews the right to settle in Silesian towns to the east of river Oder
Oder
. By 1787, the Jewish population had grown to 85 people. Regulations passed by Frederick William III
Frederick William III
in 1812 proclaimed Jews to be full citizens of the state. As their numbers grew, Jews called for a synagogue to perform their religious duties. A wooden synagogue was built in 1834 and, eventually, a bricked structure in 1852. The synagogue has survived into the 21st century but, of the interior nothing of historical value remains: during World War II it was used as a cinema.

The community's educational needs were also met with the establishment of a cheder (Jewish school) in 1812. From 1820, Jews were allowed to attend to Protestant and Catholic schools. A new, joint Protestant and Jewish school was established in 1873 and became a municipal school in 1893.

The Jewish community reached its highest peak in 1885, numbering 341 members. Markus Brann, Jewish theologian and historian and future lecturer at the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau , was active in Pszczyna
Pszczyna
during that period. The number of Jews had dropped significantly when Poland
Poland
took control of the city in 1922, as most of the Jews identifying themselves as Germans had left for Germany.

Only scarce evidence of the town's former Jewish presence has been left – the cemetery, the former residence of the Jewish community and the synagogue. The cemetery in Pszczyna,on Katowicka Street, was founded in 1814. The last reported burial took place in 1937. During World War II the cemetery was not destroyed. The oldest tombstone was discovered in June 2009. It belongs to Gitel Gutmann, who died on 10 September 1814. The cemetery is in the permanent custody of Sławomir Pastuszka, who provides information both on the cemetery and on the local Jewish community. On May 8, 2012 it was reported that the Jewish cemetery had been vandalized. Nineteen tombstones, some of which date back to the early 19th century, were damaged in the old part of the cemetery. The local community contributed to the restoration of 150 graves of historical value.

PROTESTANTS IN PSZCZYNA

Lutheranism was introduced to Pszczyna
Pszczyna
in 1568 by Duke Karol Promnitz. In a course of next 20 years, Lutheranism spread among the local population. A Protestant minister came to the county in 1569, followed by opening of the first Protestant school. During the counter-reformation in 1649 celebrations of Protestant religious service were confined to the Castle of Pszczyna.

From 1709 on Erdmann Promnitz received permission for building a Protestant church. Along with church, a Protestant school had been reintroduced. The church burned down in 1905 and was rebuilt two years later. It is still in operation and serves as the central point for the Protestant community, which numbers 1500 members.

GEOGRAPHY

TOPOGRAPHY

Pszczyna
Pszczyna
is situated on sandy plains ascending into the east. The land is slightly hilly, but with no large relative elevations. The highest points are less than 260 metres (850 feet) above sea level .

CLIMATE

As Pszczyna
Pszczyna
is in a moderate climatic zone, the climate is directly influenced by a clash of oceanic and continental air masses. While the former usually takes the upper hand, the temperature does not vary widely. Severe or long winters are rare. The warm tropical air coming through the Moravian Gate
Moravian Gate
(a depression between the Sudetes
Sudetes
and Carpathian mountains ) contributes to this.

The average annual temperature is 7–8 °C (45–46 °F). The hottest month is July (15 °C (59 °F) average) and the coldest is January (−1 °C (30 °F) average).

R. Gumiński researched the climate in the land around Pszczyna. He defined three distinguished sub-climatic provinces – the western "podsudecka", the eastern "tarnowska", and the northern "kielecko-czestochowska". The eastern part offers the most favorable environment for plants and vegetation, with over 220 days of growing season and 770 mm (30 in) of precipitation . Pszczyna
Pszczyna
gets the least rainfall in winter months and the highest level in July. Snowfall begins in the middle of November, lingers for 50–70 days, and generally does not exceed a depth of 15 cm (5.9 in).

Slight westerly winds are dominant, averaging 2–3 km/h (1.2–1.9 mph). The period of windless weather appears interestingly regularly, caused by the cover of, and the dry down-slope foehn winds arriving from, the Beskid Śląski mountain range.

Goczałkowice Reservoir , by far the largest reservoir in southern Poland, gives the climate in Pszczyna
Pszczyna
an even more distinctive imprint by moderating winters and summers.

LAND USE

The total area of 174 square kilometres (67 sq mi) includes 95 km2 (37 sq mi) of farmland (68 km2 (26 sq mi) of arable land , 1.5 km2 (0.58 sq mi) of orchards , 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi) of meadows , 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) of pasture ) and 51 km2 (20 sq mi) of forest grounds (50 km2 (19 sq mi) of forests, 1.6 km2 (0.62 sq mi) of tree-planted and shrub-planted land).

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Poland
Poland

TWIN TOWNS — SISTER CITIES

Pszczyna
Pszczyna
is twinned with:

* Bergisch Gladbach
Bergisch Gladbach
, Germany * Klein Rönnau , Germany * Kaštela
Kaštela
, Croatia * Holešov
Holešov
, Czech Republic

PEOPLE

Memorial to Daisy in Pszczyna
Pszczyna
Prince Hans Heinrich XV
Hans Heinrich XV
See also: Category:People from Pszczyna
Pszczyna
and Category:People from Pszczyna County

* Hans Heinrich XV
Hans Heinrich XV
(1861–1938), Prince of Pless and local businessman * Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann
, a Baroque composer, once a kapellmeister in the city * Frederick Ferdinand, Duke of Anhalt-Köthen (1769–1830), Prussian general * Louis, Prince of Anhalt-Pless (1783–1841) * August Kiß
August Kiß
(1802–1865), sculptor * Wilhelm Engerth
Wilhelm Engerth
(1814–1884), architect * Max Friedländer (1829–1872), Jewish journalist * Karl Hoefer (1862–1939), Prussian general * Daisy, Princess of Pless
Daisy, Princess of Pless
(1873–1943) * Bruno Chrobek (1895–1942) Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
general * Otto Lasch (1893–1971), Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
general * Johnny Friedlaender (1912–1992), Jewish artist * Alicja Janosz (born 1985), the winner of the 2002 Polish Idol contest, was born in Pszczyna. * Przemysław Pitry * Tomasz Tomczykiewicz * Joanna Worek

SEE ALSO

* Pszczyna Castle

REFERENCES

* (in Polish) (in English) (in German) Official Website * (in Polish) (in English) Pszczyna
Pszczyna
Information Office * (in Polish) Pszczyna
Pszczyna
Muzeum * (in Polish) Name of town derived from the word "plszczyna", describing the area.

NOTES

* ^ Orlik, Zygmunt J. (2000). Szkice z dziejów Starej Wsi. Pszczyna: ITKM. pp