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A short history of Warsaw's Jews

Jan Jagielski

11th c. - First mention of Jews in Mazovia.
1237 - Mention of a permanent Jewish settlement in Płock.
1414 - The oldest document confirming the presence of Jews in Warsaw. They lived in the Old Town, between Wąski Dunaj and Piekarska streets. Their synagogue was here and a cemetery just outside the city walls, probably near today's Bednarska Street.
1483 - The first pogrom of Jews. Bolesław IV, Duke of Mazovia expels them from the city.
1525 - Janusz III, Duke of Mazovia once again drives the Jews from Warsaw.
1527 - After the death of Janusz, the last of the Mazovian dukes, Mazovia is incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland. King Zygmunt the Old grants the privilege "de non tolerandis Judaeis" to Warsaw and Mazovia.
1775 - A resolution is passed by the Seym (parliament) encouraging Jews to come to Mazovia province, excluding the city of Warsaw. They settle in Praga, across the Vistula River, near today's Jagiellońska Street.
- Marshall Stanisław Lubomirski orders the confiscation of merchandise from Jews and the tearing down of their homes and shops in the jurydykas (privately owned settlements) of Nowy Potok and Nowa Jerozolima on Warsaw's outskirts.
1780 - Szmul Zbykower obtains permission to found a Jewish cemetery in Praga.
1785 - Removal of Jews from the jurydykas of Leszno, Pociejów and Tłomackie.
1794 - Jews take part in the Kościuszko Uprising. Berek Joselewicz forms a cavalry regiment of Jewish soldiers.
1795 - After the Third Partition of Poland, the Prussians grant Jews permission for permanent settlement in Warsaw. The Jewish population numbers around 6,000 at the time (approx. 8.6% of inhabitants).
1799 - The Warsaw Jewish Community is founded.
1806 - The Warsaw Jewish Community receives permission to create its own cemetery beyond the Wola tollgates, west of the city bulwarks (now Okopowa Street).
- The first progressive synagogue opens on Daniłowiczska Street.
1809 - Decree on the establishment of the so-called Jewish Quarter in the northern district by introducing restricted streets where Jews were not allowed to live.
1814 - Opening of the first Jewish printing house in Warsaw.
1819 - Szlomo Zelman Lipszyc (1765-1839) becomes the first rabbi of the Warsaw Jewish community.
1820 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers some 22,000 (approx. 22% of the total).
- The first three state elementary schools for Jewish children open.
1826 - Icchak Meir Alter (1789-1866) moves to Warsaw. He is a tzaddik in Góra Kalwaria from 1859.
- The first state Rabinic School opens, directed by Antoni Eisenbaum until 1852, and then by Jakub Tugenhold until its closure in 1862.
1827 - Bookseller Jan Glucksberg (1784-1859) publishes a Guide to Warsaw.
1830 - Jewish Varsovians take part in the November Uprising in the ranks of the National Guard, forming the Jewish City Guard.
1841 - Matias Rosen (1807-1865), a banker, becomes the chairman of the Synagogue Supervisory Board (of the Jewish Community).
1856 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers 41,000 (26.3% of the total).
- Cracow rabbi Ber Maisels (1798-1870) becomes the chief rabbi of Warsaw.
1858 - Bookseller Samuel Orgelbrand (1810-1868) begins publishing the first Polish encyclopedia, in 28 volumes.
1861 - Jews take part in patriotic demonstrations before the January Uprising. Michał Landy (1844-1861) dies in a hail of bullets during a demonstration on Zamkowy Square, while propping up a falling cross.
1862 - Chaim Zelig Słonimski (1810-1904) starts publishing the Hebrew-language journal Ha-Cefira (Daybreak).
1863 - Jews participate in the January Uprising. Henryk Wohl (1836-1907) serves as treasurer for the National Council.
1871 - Well-known physician, Ludwik Natanson, becomes president of the Warsaw Jewish Community.
1876 - A Jewish children's hospital is built with funds from the Berson and Bauman families.
1878 - The Great Synagogue, known as the progressive synagogue, is built on Tłomackie Street, designed by Leander Marconi.
1879 - The Warsaw Jewish Community's Craft Instruction Workshops open - the first Jewish trade school in the Polish Kingdom.
1881 - A pogrom of Warsaw's Jewish inhabitants takes place.
1887 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers 150,000 (34.3% of the total).
1895 - Hipolit Wawelberg (1844-1901) and his brother-in-law Stanisław Rotwand found a mechanical and technical school.
1902 - A new Jewish hospital with 1,174 beds is built on Dworska Street.
1905 - The Jewish Museum opens, featuring the Judaica collections of Mathias Berson.
1906 - The first conference of Zionists from the Russian Partition is held in Warsaw.
- Baruch Szulman (1885-1906), a member of the Polish Socialist Party's Fighting Organization, dies in an assassination attempt on the sub-commissary of the Czarist police.
1908 - The first issue of Hajnt (Today), a Yiddish-language daily paper, appears.
1910 - The first issue of Der Moment (The Moment), a Yiddish-language daily paper, appears.
1912 - The Orphans Aid Society builds an orphanage for around 100 children on Krochmalna Street. Janusz Korczak becomes its head.
1914 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers 337,000 (38.1% of the total).
1915 - The Makabi Sports Club opens in Warsaw.
- Icchak Lejb Perec (b. 1852), a distinguished writer and mainstay of Yiddish literature, dies.
1917 - The first national conference of the Mizrachi (Orthodox Zionists) is held in Warsaw.
1921 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers 310,322 (33.1% of the total).
1923 - The first issue of Nasz Przegląd (Our Digest), the biggest Polish-language Jewish daily, appears. At the time there were 13 journals in Yiddish, seven in Polish and 11 in Hebrew.
1925 - The "mother of the Jewish theater," Ester Rachel Kamińska, dies in Warsaw. There were nine Jewish theaters in Warsaw at the time.
1927 - The Jewish PEN Club is formed.
- Feliks Perl, co-founder of the Polish Socialist Party and the editor of Robotnik (The Worker), dies.
1928 - The Institute of Judaic Studies opens, headed by Majer Bałaban and Mojżesz Schorr.
1929 - The Jewish Writers and Journalists Union is formed. Some of its members were Noble Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer, Szalom Asz and Matatiahu Szoham.
1931 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers 352,659 (30.1% of the total).
1936 - The Judaic Library is built on Tłomackie Street, providing a home for the Institute of Jewish Studies.
1937 - The Extraordinary Commission of the Jewish Community is appointed, chaired by Murycy Mayzel.
9/01/1939 - Outbreak of World War II.
9/12-13/1939 - Especially heavy bombing of the Jewish Quarter on the Jewish New Year.
9/23/1939 - Stefan Starzyński, mayor of Warsaw, appoints Adam Czerniaków head of the Jewish Community.
10/23/1939 - The Judenrat is created, with Adam Czerniaków as its chair.
10/26/1939 - Ordinance of the Nazi authorities on forced, unpaid labor for Jewish inhabitants.
10/28/1939 - According to a census conducted, 359 827 Jews lived in Warsaw.
12/01/1939 - The Nazi order for Jews to wear a band with a Star of David on their right sleeve is given.
3/22-29/1940 - Stores looted and Jews beaten over the Easter holiday.
5/29/1940 - Creation of the Jewish Community Mutual-Aid Society.
11/15/1940 - The Jewish Quarter is surrounded by a 3-meter-high wall. Some 350,000 people were imprisoned on an area of 307 hectares (758 acres).
9/18/1941 - The size of the ghetto is decreased.
10/14/1941 - Ordinance of the Nazi authorities on the death penalty for Jews who leave a designated district without a pass.
2/16/1942 - A wooden bridge is built over Chłodna Street for pedestrian traffic between the "little" and "big" ghettos.
7/22/1942 - Start of deportations from Umschlagplatz (Stawki Street) to the Treblinka death camp.
7/23/1942 - Adam Czerniaków, chairman of the Judenrat, commits suicide.
8/06/1942 - Children from ghetto orphanages, including Janusz Korczak and his charges, are sent to the death camp.
8/12/1942 - The "little" ghetto is closed. The remaining residents are moved to the "big" ghetto.
8/16/1942 - Around 35,000 cards granting permission to work in the ghetto are issued, thus providing protection from deportation.
9/15/1942 - The Nazis finish deportations of some 300,000 people. Around 60,000 people remained in the residual ghetto, of them over 20,000 illegally.
Oct. 1942 - The Jewish National Committee is formed in the ghetto.
Dec. 1942 - The Jewish Fighting Organization (ŻOB) is formed, with Mordechaj Anielewicz as commander.
- The Government-in Exile's representatives found Żegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, with members from Polish political organizations and representatives of Jewish groups.
1/18/1943 - The Nazis begin another deportation campaign. Organized ŻOB groups present armed resistance forcing a halt to the deportation.
4/19/1943 - Encroaching Nazi divisions are attacked by the Jewish fighters. The Ghetto Uprising begins.
5/08/1943  - The Nazis capture the ŻOB bunker at 18 Miła Street. Commander Mordechaj Anielewicz and his group of fighters commit suicide.
5/10/1943 - A group of 30 ŻOB fighters escape the ghetto through the sewers.
5/16/1943 - General Jürgen Stroop personally blows up the Great Synagogue as a symbol of his victory over the Jews fighting in the ghetto.
7/23/1943 - The Nazis create a concentration camp on Gęsia Street populated by prisoners from Auschwitz to carry out clean up work on the site of the ghetto.
9/03/1943 - In the Erntefest operation Germans murder prisoners at labor camps in Trawniki, Poniatowa and Majdanek, most of them from the Warsaw Ghetto sent there after the Uprising.
Aug. Sept. 1944 - Many of the over 10,000 Jews hiding on the "Arian side" take part in the Warsaw Uprising.
Sept. 1944-1945 - The Jewish Committee gathers surviving Jews at its headquarters in liberated Praga, at the corner of Jagiellońska and Targowa streets.
Oct. 1944 1/17/1945 - Groups of Jews hide in the ruins of the city until the Soviet and Polish armies enter.
7/21/1945 - A synagogue on Jagiellońska Street opens; it is demolished in 1961.
Sept. 1945 - The temporarily propped-up Nożyk Synagogue ones again becomes a place of prayer.
1/01/1946 - The Jewish population of Warsaw numbers 18,000.
1946 - A memorial boulder is placed on the site of the ŻOB bunker at Miła 18.
- A monument commemorating the Jews who died in World War II is raised on the ruins of Nowolipki Street.
- The first part of Ringelblum's Archive is recovered from the ruins on Nowolipki Street.
1947 - The central authorities of Jewish organizations move from Łódź to Warsaw.
- The Central Jewish Historical Commission moves from Łódź to the repaired prewar Judaic Library building. In May 1947 it becomes the Jewish Historical Institute.
1948 - The Jewish Religious Union in People's Poland (ZRWM) is formed with its headquarters at 6 Twarda Street.
1948 - The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes is unveiled.
1950 - The second part of Ringelblum's archive is recovered, hidden in two milk jugs.
Oct. 1950 - The Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ) is formed.
1955 - The Jewish National Theater, directed by Ida Kamińska, moves to a new home in Warsaw on Zwycięstwa Square.
1966 - 6,200 people are registered in the Warsaw TSKŻ.
1968 - An anti-Semitic campaign is launched following declarations by First Secretary Władysław Gomułka, starting in 1967. As a result, around 20,000 people emigrate from Poland.
1969 - A building for the Jewish theater and other lay Jewish organizations is finished on Grzybowski Square.
1981 - Formation of the Voluntary Committee for Care of Jewish Cemeteries and Monuments under the auspices of the Society for Historical Monuments Preservation (TOnZ). The focus for many years is the Warsaw Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street.
1982 - A wall is built around the Jewish cemetery in Praga thanks to the efforts of the Nissenbaum Family Foundation.
1983 - The Nożyk Synagogue is reopened after a six-year complete renovation.
1988 - The Shalom Foundation is created at the initiative of actress Gołda Tencer. Its aim is to preserve the memories of the Jews of Warsaw and Poland.
- The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation to rebuild Jewish life and traditions in Poland. Rabbi M. Schudrich is its representative in Poland.
- A monument is erected on the site of the Umschlagplatz with the Path of Remembrance.
10/14/1988 - Representatives of the Jewish Religious Union meet with Pope John Paul II.
1989 - Head Rabbi of Poland Pinchas Menachem Joskowicz comes to Poland and lives in Warsaw.
1993 - For the first time in the history of [Polish?] Christian-Jewish relations, a Roman Catholic bishop and Rabbi Michael Schudrich pray together in a synagogue.
1994 - The Gęsia Street Foundation is formed to renovate the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street.
- The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation opens an elementary school: Morasha (Heritage).
1995 - A monument honoring "Żegota," the Council for Aid to Jews active in 1942-45 - is unveiled.
1996 - An arson attempt on the Nożyk Synagogue.
- Formation of the Building Committee for the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, planned near the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.
1997 - Restitution of property to the Warsaw Jewish Community.
1999 - The Warsaw Ghetto Archive, known as Ringelblum's Archive, is added to the UNESCO "Memory of the World" list of documentary heritage.
June 2000 - Michael Schudrich becomes Rabbi of Warsaw.