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Jewish Families of Chrzanów, Poland

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This project seeks to collect all of the Jewish families from the town of Chrzanów, Poland.

Chrzanów in Wikipedia

JewishGen Memory Book for Chrzanów

Background and History

Chrzanów [%CB%88x%CA%82anuf] ( listen) (German: 1941-1945 Krenau)[1] is a town in southern Poland with 39,704 inhabitants as of 2006. It is situated in the historical Lesser Poland Voivodeship (since 1999) and is the capital of Chrzanów County.

It is impossible to establish a reliable date for the foundation of the town. The earliest documents which corroborate the existence of Chrzanów castellany come from the late 12th century when, in around 1178, Chrzanów castellany was annexed to Silesia by order of Duke Casimir II the Just.

In the second half of the 13th century it was reunited with the Duchy of Kraków. In 1241 the wooden stronghold of Chrzanów was put to the torch by Mongol hordes invading Poland from the east. The town of Chrzanów was rebuilt according to the Magdeburg Law in the mid-14th century under the reign of King Casimir III the Great. However it seems that it was not surrounded by defence walls.

It is believed that Chrzanów was an open town not surrounded by defence walls.. From the time of its construction in the 14th century until 1640 the town was the property of the Ligęza family of the Półkozic coat of arms. In the mid-15th century Chrzanów had c. 430 residents and in the 17th century some 650. At least from the early 15th century a parish school existed next to Chrzanów's Church of St Nicholas.

Ancient Chrzanów's speciality was trading cattle, as here was a customs house for exports of cattle to Silesia and ore trade which was mined and smelted by Chrzanów's burghers. //

  • In 1640 Chrzanów was taken over by Andrzej Samuel Dembiński. Then in 1649 it was inherited by his granddaughter Katarzyna Grudzińska, and in 1675 by the Stadnicki family.
  • In 1731 the town went to Józef Kanty Ossoliński.
  • In 1654 King John II Casimir bestowed upon Chrzanów the privilege of holding extra fairs and in 1781 a similar privilege was bestowed on the town by King Stanislaus II Augustus.
  • The second half of the 17th century was a particularly hard period for Chrzanów. As a result of wars waged at the time the town was looted on several occasions by the Swedes (1655–1657), the Austrians who fought against them (1657), by Transylvanian troops of Prince George Rákóczi and by Polish troops as well.
  • During the Great Northern War Chrzanów was plundered and put to the torch by Swedish troops of King Charles XII. During the Polish-Russian war which broke out in 1792,
  • Chrzanów was occupied by Russian (1792–1793) and Prussian troops (1793–1795). In 1795, following the third partition of Poland-Lithuania, Chrzanów was annexed to Galicia in the Habsburg Empire.


In the period 1795-1809 Chrzanów was a part of Austrian Galicia. In 1809, as a result of the war between Austria and the Duchy of Warsaw, West Galicia with Chrzanów was annexed to the Duchy of Warsaw. During this period ownership of the town also changed.

  • From 1804 to 1822 Chrzanów was owned by Duke Albert Casimir of Saxe-Cieszyn, son of the late King of Poland, Augustus III of Saxony.
  • In 1838 Chrzanów had 4078 residents: 2009 of the Roman-Catholic and 2069 of the Jewish faith. The period of the Free City of Cracow was a time of prosperity and rapid development for Chrzanów and its residents. 1856 Mieroszewski decided to sell his Chrzanów estate to a group of Wrocław entrepreneurs, one of whom, Emanuel Loewenfeld, soon became the sole owner.
  • In September 1846 Chrzanów with the entire Free City of Cracow was annexed to the Austrian Kingdom of Galicia. In 1853/54 Galicia was divided into counties (powiaty) and Chrzanów became a seat of a county. In 1847 the first part of the railway running through Chrzanów County was built: from Cracow to Silesia with railway stations in Krzeszowice, Trzebinia and Szczakowa.

Chrzanów entered the age of rapid industrialization. With it the number of residents grew. In 1870 the town had 6,323 inhabitants, 7,712 in 1890, 10,000 in 1900 and 11,572 in 1910.

Following Austria-Hungary's collapse in 1918 Chrzanów with the rest of Galicia was reunited with the Republic of Poland.

  • The interwar years was the period of dynamic urbanization. A number of public buildings were constructed then (the Józef Piłsudski County Hospital, the Józef Piłsudski Children's House, a new building of Chrzanów Secondary School etc.), The population of the town in 1921 was 12,244 and 18,106 according to the 1931 census. In 1939 the number of residents was 22,000.


Outbreak of WW2

With the outbreak of World War II (1 September 1939) the town was flooded with refugees from Upper Silesia. Polish local government was evacuated from the town, as well as many residents with the town being occupied by German troops.

In November 1939 when the town with the western half of the county was annexed directly to the Third Reich Chrzanów was made a county town in the Katowice region of Upper Silesia.

In 1940 the German authorities began expropriating Polish families from better houses in the town. These were given to German officials, military, policemen and German settlers from Romania. The Nazis started removing any Polish traces in the town with particular pettiness.

  • Public buildings and shops had all signs written in Polish removed and all streets received German names. In 1941 the town itself was renamed Krenau.
  • Jewish residents were resettled to a ghetto, created in 1941. It was not surrounded by walls, like in other Polish towns, nevertheless the Jews were not allowed to venture outside the ghetto.
  • From 1942 Germans started sending Chrzanów's Jews to the death camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The last transport of Jews from Chrzanów to Birkenau was organized by the Germans in February 1943.
  • German occupation was terminated on 24 January 1945 when Chrzanów was taken over by Soviet troops of the First Ukrainian Front. The town escaped serious damage in this last chapter of its war history (about one-fourth of the town was damaged). The population decreased by almost half. From 30 January 1945 the town was administered first by the Town Council and then by the National Town Council. Due to ruthless political methods, local administration was soon seized by the local and incoming communists, although the communists themselves constituted a tiny fraction of the politically active residents.

Since 1945

In 1949 Chrzanów had almost 15,000 residents, increasing to 20,000 in 1960, to over 30,000 in 1975 and to 53,000 in 1993.

After 1945 new enterprises were created in the town (e.g. a dairy, a cold storage plant, a slaughterhouse) and new residential areas (housing estates Północ - from 1961, Południe - from 1979, Trzebińska and so on) and cultural centres (e.g. County Cultural Centre, the construction of which was initiated in 1959, and Chrzanów Museum founded in 1960).


In 1970-71 a new town centre was constructed focusing around the Millennium Square (Plac Tysiąclecia) and the Victory and Liberty Monument. In 1975, following an administrative reform abolishing counties (powiaty), Chrzanów ceased to be a county seat. Further, the town was detached from its original Province of Cracow, to which it belonged since restoration of Poland's independence after World War I, and annexed to the Province of Katowice until 1999. Since 1999 Chrzanów has been a county seat in Małopolskie, or Lesser Poland Voivodeship.

Memorial to those who fell

The Victory and Liberty Monument at the Tysiąclecia Sq. (locally known as "The Eagle") by the Chrzanovian sculptor Marian Konarski was raised in 1971 in memory of the residents of Chrzanów who fell during World War II.

The castle granary from the 16th century, now the seat of the Chrzanów Museum. The building was originally a part of the manor assembly (called the Castle), which in turn was the residence of the owners of Chrzanów. Since 1960 the building has housed collections of the Chrzanów Museum, including mementos of the last owners, the Loewenfelds.


The Jewish cemetery (1763)

With 19th- and 20th-century tombstones initially had consisted of two cemeteries, the small one (which was destroyed by the Germans in 1941) and the big one which has been preserved down to our own days (small part of which, however, was destroyed by the Germans during World War II).

World War I cemetery behind / adjacent to the Jewish cemetery of 1914/15 with approx. 170 interred, mainly Austro-Hungarian soldiers who died in the Chrzanów military hospitals. The site has been cleaned, a simple cross with the names of the interred erected in 2014, and restoration is envisaged to be completed by 2018.

Notable people

  1. Duvid Halberstam (1821-1894), Jewish religious leader
  2. Ignacy Schwarzbart (1888–1961), Zionist
  3. Klemens Stefan Sielecki (1903–1980), technical director of Fablok
  4. Isaac Deutscher (1907-1967), Jewish marxist
  5. Zbigniew Wąsiel (born 1966), sculptor
  6. Janusz Szrom (born 1968), jazz singer
  7. Michał Gajownik (1981–2009), Olympic canoeist
  8. Henryk fuchsbrunner (1917-2000), Auschwitz sonderkommando, escapee, famous testimony. Longest known survivor off the kommando.


Life and Destruction of a Jewish Shtetl

Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database