Lublin Voivodeship - History

History

The Polish historical region that encompasses Lublin, and approximates Lublin Voivodeship as it was prior to the Partitions of Poland, is known as Lubelszczyzna. Provinces centred on Lublin have existed throughout much of Poland's history; for details see the section below on Previous Lublin Voivodeships.

The region was, prior to World War II, one of the world's leading centres of Judaism. Before the middle of the 16th century, there were few Jews in the area, concentrated in Lublin, Kazimierz Dolny, and perhaps Chełm; but the founding of new private towns led to a large movement of Jews into the region to develop trade and services. Since these new towns competed with the existing towns for business, there followed a low-intensity but long lasting feeling of resentment, with failed attempts to limit the Jewish immigration. The Jews tended to settle mostly in the cities and towns, with only individual families setting up businesses in the rural regions; this urban/rural division became another factor feeding resentment of the newly arrived economic competitors. By the middle of the 18th century, Jews were a significant part of the population in Kraśnik, Lubartów and Łęczna. By the 20th century, Jews represented greater than 70% of the population in eleven towns, and close to 100% of the population of Laszczów and Izbica. From this region came both religious figures such as Mordechai Josef Leiner of Izbica, Chaim Israel Morgenstern of Puławy, and Motele Rokeach of Biugoraj, as well as famous secular authors Israel Joshua Singer. The brother of Israel, the Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer was not born in Biugoraj, but lived part of his life in the city. The "Old Town" of the city of Lublin contained a famous yeshiva, Jewish hospital, synagogue, cemetery, and kahal, as well as the Grodzka Gate (known as the Jewish Gate).

Before the war, there were 300,000 Jews living in the region, which became the site of the Majdanek and Belzec concentration camps as well as several labour camps (Trawniki, Poniatowa, Budzyn, Puławy, Zamość, Biała Podlaska, and the Lublin work camps Lindenstraße 7 (Lipowa Street), Flugplatz, and Sportplatz) which produced military supplies for the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe). This was once one of the biggest forced labour centres in occupied Europe, with approximately 45,000 Jewish prisoners. As well, the Sobibór extermination camp was located in the Lublin Voivodeship. After the war, the few surviving Jews largely left the area; today there is some restoration of areas of Jewish historical interest, and a surge of tourism by Jews seeking to view their families' historical roots.

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