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1. Background

50°20' N, 19°09' E

A city in Upper Silesia in South-West Poland , is one of the oldest cities in Poland. A flourishing Jewish settlement started in the late Middle Ages and the first Jews came to the city as early the 13th century, most of them worked in agriculture and commerce.
The Jewish community in Będzin was established in the 14th century thanks to King Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki) who granted Jews special privileges and allowed them to settle in the city.

2. Będzin – "Jerusalem de'Zaglembie
By Alter Welner

Będzin was a city bubbling with cultural activity, Zionism, creativity, pioneering, active youth movements, Hasidim and Torah Studies. It was a Jewish city nicknamed:"Jerusalem De'Zaglembie" for a reason. Just like other cities of special prominence, such as the city of the Genius (A title given to heads of talmudic academies in Babylon from 6th to 11th centuries) from Wilna that was called:"Jerusalem De'Lita."

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3. From the Encyclopedia of the Ghettos – courtesy Yad VaShem

Place prior to the war: a city district in the Kielce County, Poland
Place during the war: Upper Silesia

Before the War:
21,000 Jews – half the city population - lived in Będzin between the two world wars. Most of them dealt with crafts, especially tailoring and others worked in the food industry. The industrialists among the Jews developed the chemistry and metal mine industries. The Jews had at their disposal a loan funds and two savings and loan institutions. The Jewish labour unions ran a day care and kindergarten for Jewish working parents. The community was proud of its traditional charity and welfare facilities, which included a hospital, an orphanage, a tuition assistance organization and as of February 1939, a communal kitchen that helped some 200 German Jews who were expelled from Germany and found their way to Będzin. Among the educational facilities in the city there were a Talmud-Torah, an updated Hedder, a Hebrew speaking kindergarten and a religious high school belonging with the Yavne network where studies were conducted in Hebrew and Polish. The Ort network offered professional courses for adults. The community members also had Hebrew culture organizations, a library that had cultural activities under its roof and three sports organizations: Hapoel (The worker), Stern (The Star) and Hacoach (Force). There were a few newspapers and magazines in Yiddish but only a few, like the Zaglenbier Zeitung that were published at the outbreak of the war.

To continue reading (in Hebrew), Click here for the Encyclopedia of the Ghettos in the Yad Vashem site

4. Follow the link to the announcement of the establishment of the Będzin survivors' organization quoted from the Będzin Files p.390-391 in Hebrew. (PDF file)

5. The ancient cemetery in Będzin on Podzamcze Street was constructed after the cholera plague in 1831.

It is on the north-western slope of the Góra Zamkowa (Castle Mountain) – near the Będzin Castle. The cemetery was in use until 1870.
Nowadays, 250 tombstones preserved in their entirety and about 550 broken or partly destroyed ones can be found. The total of some 800 tombstones are made of sandstone and limestone decorated with typical inscriptions in Hebrew and Yiddish, some even having remains of color on them.
An interesting detail relating to them is that the Polish Eagle was engraved on some of them. This is proof that the Polish citizens of the city wanted to acknowledge the Jewish participation in the Polish national uprisings of 1831 and 1863.
The Nazis destroyed the graveyard during World War II, where many mass killings' victims were buried there as well.
It seems that about 200 headstones, placed west to the stairs leading to the citadel were covered with soil in 1944.

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