ZAWIERCIE (Rus. Zavertse), city in Katowice province, S. Poland. Jews settled in Zawiercie in the latter half of the 19th century when the city underwent rapid industrial development. Zawiercie was then in Congress Poland. Jews came to the city from the communities of *Radom, *Belchatow, *Wielun, and Wloszczowa, and became mechanics, smiths, tailors, weavers, clerks, bookkeepers, and tradesmen. In the last third of the century wealthy Jews established a glassworks, an iron foundry, machine, and textile factories. The Gincberg brothers invested 3.5 million rubles in a cloth factory which employed over 200 Jewish workers. There were 1,134 Jews in Zawiercie in 1887 (27% of the total population), and 3,158 (18.5%) in 1897.
At first there was no organized community life in the city and the Jews relied on the services of the neighboring community of Kromolow. The first local synagogue was built in the 1880s. The ḥasidic movement exerted a strong influence on the community. In 1915 Zawiercie was declared a municipality and there followed a period of intense communal development. The Zawiercie community numbered 6,095 (21%) in 1921, and 5,677 in 1931. Between the world wars there were two Jewish schools.
[Shimshon Leib Kirshenboim]
On the outbreak of World War II there were about 7,000 Jews in Zawiercie. On Sept. 2, 1939, about 2,000 Jews fled the city just before the entry of the German army. After entering the city, the Germans ordered all Jewish males from ages 17 to 50 to assemble in the city's market. They were all arrested and tortured for 9 days. On May 10, 1940, about 600 Jews from the Zaolzie region of Czechoslovakia were forced to settle in Zawiercie. A ghetto was established there in the summer of 1940. In November 1940 about 500 young Jews were deported to forced labor camps in Germany, where almost all of them perished. In May 1942 about 2,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. On Aug. 26, 1943, the ghetto was liquidated, and almost all remaining Jews were deported to Auschwitz and murdered. During this deportation over 100 Jews were shot on the spot for offering passive resistance. About 500 Jews were left in the newly established local forced-labor camp, which was in turn liquidated on Oct. 17, 1943. The Jewish community was not reconstituted in Zawiercie after the war.
B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX (1930), 29; Carat i klasy posiadające w walce rewolucią 1905–07 w Królestwie Polskim (1956), index; I. Schiper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1937), index; Zawiercie ve-ha-Sevivah – Sefer Zikkaron (1958; Heb. and Yid.).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.