SOSNOWIEC (Rus. Sosnovets), city in Katowice province, S. Poland. There were 2,600 Jews living in Sosnowiec around 1890 (29.8% of the total population), who earned their livelihood mainly in the clothing, food, building, and machine industries, and bookkeeping. A Jewish cemetery was opened in 1896, a linat ẓedek ("paupers' hostel") was founded in 1907, a talmud torah in 1908, and a mikveh in 1913. The city's growth in the 20th century, especially after the Russian retreat in World War I, was accompanied by an increase in the Jewish population which reached 13,646 (16% of the total) in 1921. Approximately one-third engaged in light and medium industry, crafts and trade, including clothing and shoe manufacture, coal mining, and manufacture of coke. About 2,000 Jews were employed as laborers or clerks in industry or business; a considerable number engaged in the professions. In the early 20th century a Jewish labor movement was organized through the *Bund and *Po'alei Zion. The Jewish workers of Sosnowiec took part in revolutionary activities in 1905–06, and 30 were imprisoned and exiled to the Russian interior. Through the efficient workers' organization the Jewish mine owners were able to compete with large industrial concerns. The mine owned by H. Priwer produced 25,000 tons of coal in 1920, and that of B. Meyer 32,000 in 1922.
The Jewish population continued to grow in the interwar period, from 20,805 in 1931 to 28,000 in 1939 (22% of the total). New arrivals came mainly from Kielce province attracted to Sosnowiec by more favorable work opportunities. The communal organization expanded; in addition to a Jewish hospital, secondary schools for girls and boys were established, and associations of artisans, merchants, and industrialists were formed.
The German army entered Sosnowiec on Sept. 4, 1939. On the same day it organized an attack on the Jewish population, and 13 Jews were killed. On September 9 the Great Synagogue on Dekert Street was set on fire. In 1942, Jews were deported to *Auschwitz death camp in three groups: 1,500 on May 10–12; 2,000 in June; and over 8,000 on August 12–18. After the last deportation the Germans established a ghetto in the suburb of Srodula. On March 10, 1943, the ghetto was sealed off. On August 16, 1943, all the inhabitants, with the exception of about 1,000 people, were deported to Auschwitz where they perished. The last 1,000 Jews in Sosnowiec were murdered in December 1943 and January 1944. Previously there had been considerable underground activity among the Jews, mostly organized by the youth organizations Ha-No'ar ha-Ẓiyyoni, Gordonia, and Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir, whose main leader was Ẓevi Dunski.
After the war about 700 Jews resettled in Sosnowiec, but almost all of them emigrated shortly afterward.
W.A.P. Lodz, Piotrkowski Rząd Gubernski, Kanc. Prez., 500, 623; Wydział administratywny, 2446, 8118; Wydział Pr. 211d; Zarzad żand. 119/1906 (= CAHJP, ḤM 6421, 6432, 3489, 6329, 6920, 7193f.); B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 29; S. Bronsztejn, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w okresie międzywojennym (1963), 278; N.E. Szternfinkiel, Zagłada Żydów Sosnowca (1946); J. Jaras, in: BŻIH, 35 (1960), 91–97; M.S. Gashur (Grukner), Le-Korot ha-Ir Sosnowiec ve-ha-Sevivah (Heb. and Yid., 1969).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.