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Łomża (/ˈwɒmʒə/; Polish pronunciation: [ˈwɔmʐa], Yiddish: Lomzhe) is a city in north-eastern Poland, approximately 150 kilometres (90 miles) to the north-east of Warsaw and 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Białystok. It is situated alongside the Narew river as part of the Podlaskie Voivodeship since 1999. Previously, it was the capital of the Łomża Voivodeship from 1975 to 1998. It is the capital of Łomża County and has been the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Łomża since 1925.

Łomża
Panorama of Łomża from the south-east
Panorama of Łomża from the south-east
Flag of Łomża
Flag
Coat of arms of Łomża
Coat of arms
Łomża is located in Podlaskie Voivodeship
Łomża
Łomża
Łomża is located in Poland
Łomża
Łomża
Coordinates: 53°10′35″N 22°04′23″E / 53.17639°N 22.07306°E / 53.17639; 22.07306
Country Poland
Voivodeship Podlaskie
Countycity county
Established9th century
Town rights1416
Government
 • MayorMariusz Chrzanowski
Area
 • Total32.67 km2 (12.61 sq mi)
Elevation
95 m (312 ft)
Population
 (December 31, 2014)
 • Total62 779[1]
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
18-400 to 18-404
Area code(s)+48 86
Car platesBL
Websitehttp://www.lomza.pl/

Łomża is one of the principal economic, educational, and cultural centres of north-eastern Masovia as well as one of the three main cities of Podlaskie Voivodeship (beside Białystok and Suwałki). It lends its name to the protected area of Łomża Landscape Park. The town is also the location of the Łomża Brewery.

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
Gothic Łomża Cathedral

Łomża was founded in the 10th century, on the site of the present day village called Stara Łomża (Old Łomża). It was first mentioned in official records in the 14th century. Łomża received its municipal rights in 1416, and became an important political and economic center in the mid-16th century.[2][3] Łomża was a royal city of Poland and the capital of the Łomża Land, an administrative unit (ziemia) of the Masovian Voivodeship of the Kingdom of Poland until it lost its independence in 1795.

Polish Duke Bolesław IV the Curly (Polish: Bolesław Kędzierzawy) built a palace there in the 12th century. In 1444 the town was granted an exemption from the transit tax on Narew river contributing to its further development. In the 16th century King Sigismund II Augustus gave Łomża the right to hold great fairs three times a year, similar to Warsaw and Płock. In 1614 the Jesuits founded a Jesuit College, which as today's I Liceum Ogólnokształcące is among the oldest high schools in Poland. In 1618 a great fire destroyed most of the city, and six years later, an epidemic killed 5,021 persons decimating its population. A series of disasters (including the Swedish invasion and the Cossack raids) resulted in its rapid decline.[2][3]

As a result of the Partitions of Poland Łomża was annexed by Prussia in 1795. In 1807 it was included in the short-lived Polish Duchy of Warsaw. In 1815 Łomża became part of Congress Poland, which was forcibly integrated into the Russian Empire over the course of the 19th century.

 
Stary Rynek (Old Market Square) in 1912

In 1892, several members of the Kinlikowsky family made a living of helping impoverished Russians without passports walk through the dense forest to Germany. The Kinlikowsky family would march the Russians to particularly dense areas and then murder them. Other guides found twelve bodies hidden in the overgrowth and reported it to the authorities. The Kinlikowsky family were convicted of murder.[4][5]

During the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921, Łomża was directly in the path of the Russian army's catastrophic retreat following its defeat at the Battle of Warsaw. On August 15, 1920, the Soviet General August Kork of the 15th Army mounted an unsuccessful defence of the town against the Polish Fourth Army of General Leonard Skierski, before continuing its retreat eastward under pressure from the Polish forces.[6]

In September 1939, during the joint Soviet and German invasion of Poland, Łomża was largely destroyed by the Nazis during the Battle of Łomża, then held and turned over to the Red Army.[7] Łomża remained under Soviet control until Operation Barbarossa. In June 1941, at the onset of the Russian campaign Łomża was captured by the Nazi military and used as a communications hub by the German forces.[8] The Russian military fought back against the Nazi attacks, and the Russian military successfully captured Łomża on September 13, 1944.[9]

Between 1946 and 1975, the oldest part of the city was rebuilt. New housing estates came into existence along with several industrial plants, among them Łomża cotton and furniture factories and starch manufacturing PEPEES, as well as municipal thermal power station. The city transit system was also established during this time. By the beginning of the 1970s, the population had reached almost 30,000 inhabitants.[10]

Jewish communityEdit

References to Jewish residents in Łomża date to 1494. The population numbers date back only to 1808, when 157 Jews were officially counted. A magnificent stone synagogue was built there in 1881 on the initiative of Rabbi Eliezer-Simcha Rabinowicz. The Great Synagogue designed by Enrico Marconi became a centre of the Zionist movement.[2] In 1931, there were 8,912 Jews who lived in the city.

 
Great Synagogue of Łomża destroyed in 1941 by the German Nazis

World War I was especially hard on the Jewish community of Łomża, which was a major battle area against German military forces.[11][12][13][14][15] In 1915, the Jewish Aid Society estimated that 22,000 Jewish residents of Łomża were made homeless from the war.[16] In February 1936, the kosher slaughter of animals was banned in Posnan and there was a proposal to expand the ban to the rest of Poland. The Jewish people of Posnan decided to abstain from eating meat altogether because of the unavailability of kosher meat. Chaim Epstein, the president of the Hebrew community of Łomża, committed suicide over the possibility of the ban being enforced all over Poland.[17]

On October 29, 1941, German Nazi troops forced over 1,000 Jewish residents of Lomza to kneel in trenches, and they murdered them all with machine guns.[18] The Nazi troops continued murdering entire families.[19]

On 12 August 1941, a Łomża Ghetto was created in the vicinity of the Old Market Square (Stary Rynek). The Nazi Einsatzkommando under SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Schaper committed mass killings of alleged Soviet collaborators a few days later. The number of Jews herded into the Łomża Ghetto from surrounding villages and towns including Jedwabne, Stawiski, Piątnica, Rotki, Wizna, Łomża, and others, ranged from 10,000 to 18,000. Over two-thousand people were murdered in the Giełczyn Forest outside of town. Many Jews perished from malnutrition and diseases such as dysentery and typhus. The rest were shipped to Auschwitz. The Łomża synagogue was destroyed. The ghetto was liquidated in the final deportation action on 1 November 1942.[2][3][20][21] Only a small number of the Jews of Łomża survived the Holocaust; some found refuge with Catholic Polish families.[2] At the end of 1944, the Russian military recaptured the territory. Following the Yalta Conference, the Russians ceded the city back to Poland, with its total population reduced to 12,500 inhabitants, none of whom were Jewish.[22][23]

One of the only visible remnants of the city's Jewish history is the Jewish cemetery.[24] In 1999, the Lomza Jewish Cemetery Foundation was officially founded as a charity devoted to restoring the cemetery, showing respect to the deceased buried there, and to improve relations between Poles and Jews.[24] Łomża declared the Jewish cemetery to be historical sites, and the city erected signed warning that any damage caused would be punishable under the Historical Site Preservation Law.[24] The city also decided to install doors and replace the roof on one of the original cemetery's buildings.[24]

In the 1997, a Torah was discovered that had been hidden in a home in Łomża since World War II.[22] The Torah was discovered while the home was being razed to build new housing.[22] The Torah was bought by Gerald C. Bender, a man living in Illinois in the United States whose father had been born and raised in Łomża.[22] Bender bought the Torah in order to donate it to a synagogue.[22]

DemographicsEdit

Description Total Women % Men %
Population of Łomża 63,036 32,652 51.8 30,384 48.2
Population density
(people/km²)
1,929.5 999.4/km² 930.0/km²

Łomża is the third largest city in Podlaskie Voivodeship with 63,036 inhabitants. At the end of 2006, the population growth was positive and amounted to 1.3% per 1000 inhabitants whereas the balance of migration was negative (-520).[25] The unemployment rate in May 2008 amounted to 10,2%.[26] According to data from 2006,[25] an average income per inhabitant amounted to 2,942.31 .[25]

Historical population of Łomża, 1808 - 1931Edit

General population in blue. Number of Poles of Jewish faith in green. Source: Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel.[2]

 

ReligionEdit

The inhabitants of Łomża are predominantly Roman Catholic, although over the centuries in addition to the Catholics, followers of other religions have settled there. There is evidence of many Jewish and Protestant gravestones at the Łomża cemeteries, particularly the two abandoned Jewish cemeteries.

EducationEdit

The history of education in Łomża dates back to the early 15th century, when the first parish was founded. In 1614, Jesuits residing in Łomża created a Collegium (present-day I Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Tadeusza Kościuszki). One of its rectors was Andrew Bobola. The educational level has not decreased after the KEN school pijarom in 1774. Łomża has educated a number of dignitaries, among others: Szymon Konarski, Rafał Krajewski, Jakub Ignacy Weight, Wojciech Szweykowski, and Adam Chętnik.

Currently in Łomża there is a well-developed network of public and private schools at all levels. There are seven primary schools, eight schools, ten secondary schools, six universities (including three non-public) and two schools of art. The educational level in Łomża is high, based on the results of the exams and countrywide lists. For example, I Liceum Ogólnokształcące rates as a top national and central Poland school.

EconomyEdit

 
Browar Łomża (Brewery)

The economy of Łomża is closely connected to its natural environment, with agricultural and forestry industries at the forefront of the region's economic development. The economy is ecologically friendly, including the food industries, brewing, electronics, the manufacture of building materials and furniture, the production and processing of agricultural crops, as well as tourism and agro-tourism. Even the largest companies employ less than 1,000 workers, even though a number of firms are listed on the Podlasie Top One Hundred Entrepreneurs.[27] Among them, the Łomża Brewery (large scale producer of beer), DOMEL (producer of unleaded windows), FARGOTEX (importer of upholstery fabrics), Konrad (importer of farm animals), Łomża furniture factory (Łomżyńska Fabryka Mebli), PEPEES (producer of potato starch), Purzeczko (the personal and property protection). On top of that, the city is a registered office of the Podlasie Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture.

By the end of 2007, the number of people steadily employed in Łomża was 13,408, including 7,170 women,[28] however, the unemployment rate (as of 2009) remained considerably high at 14.1 percent.[29] The number of businesses registered by the end of 2008 was 6,421 of which 6,280 belonged to the private sector.[28]

SportsEdit

The history of sport in Łomża dates back to the end of the 19th century, when the first amateur races were held in 1897. Two years later, Łomża Rowing Society was established, and initiated its activities on January 26, 1902.

The first football club was founded on April 16, 1926, currently known as ŁKS Łomża. It is the city's most successful football club, having played on the Polish second tier in the 1930s, 1940s and 2000s.

There are several sports clubs in town including volleyball, basketball, athletics and martial arts. The most successful Łomżanie would be Athletics, Sports Fighting and Kulturystyce. On June 2009 in Łomża, the Nationwide Finale Gimnazjady football (soccer) for boys was held. The local football team from Public High School No. 8 took third place. Łomża sport is supported by the Society for Promoting Physical Culture and the Łomża School Sports Association. 1998 saw the opening of an indoor sports arena for national and international sporting events, including indoor football matches and Eastern martial arts tournaments.

In 2009, a contract was signed for the construction of a municipal swimming pool to open in 2011, which will be the second such facility in the city. Construction of the swimming pool was co-financed by the EU's regional operational programme for the Voivodship for the years 2007-2013, and its total cost will be 35,200,000 PLN.

LandmarksEdit

Notable residentsEdit

 
Monument to Hanka Bielicka

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Central Statistical Office (Poland): Population of cities in Podlaskie Voivodeship
  2. ^ a b c d e f Qiryat Tiv'on, "Łomża from its beginnings," translated from Hebrew by Stan Goodman, original published by Pinkas haKehilot branch of Yad Vashem
  3. ^ a b c Marian Bagiński, Ph.D., "A Different View on the Łomża Region," published by PolishNews.com, 2010
  4. ^ "Polish Murderers Sentenced: Convicted of killing at least twelve person int he forest". The New York Times. November 11, 1892. p. 8.
  5. ^ "Slain by Trusted Guides: Poor Russian Emigrants Killed in the Forest Depths". The Washington Post. November 11, 1892. p. 1.
  6. ^ Zamoyski, Adam (2008). Warsaw 1920 Lenin's failed conquest of Europe. Harpercollins Pub Limited. ISBN 9780007225521.
  7. ^ Shapiro, Chaim. "Go, My Son: A Young Jewish Refugee's Story of Survival". New York: Feldheim, 1989.
  8. ^ "The Russo-German War Today". The Baltimore Sun. June 25, 1941. p. 3.
  9. ^ "Narew River Line in Poland Cracks: Reds Also Advance To Within 50 Miles Of Yugoslavia". Associated Press. The Baltimore Sun. September 6, 1944. p. 1.
  10. ^ "Liczba mieszkańców Łomży, world-gazetteer.com". Archived from the original on 2012-05-15.
  11. ^ "Million Men Battle: Over a Front of Eighty Miles Russians and Germans Meet". The Washington Post. March 12, 1915. p. 2.
  12. ^ "Russians Rolled Back: Defeated Again in East Prussia, Declare Berlin Reports". The Washington Post. April 1, 1915. p. 11.
  13. ^ "Berlin Reports Gains". The Baltimore Sun. May 5, 1915. p. 2.
  14. ^ "Great Battle Begun for Warsaw: Forts of City Now Under Fire: Teutons Attack Fortresses of Lomza, Ostrolenka and Ivangorod". The Washington Post. August 5, 1915. p. 1.
  15. ^ "Lomza Offensive Menaces: May Threaten Bialystok and Brest-Litovsk, Says Correspondent". The New York Times. August 7, 1915. p. 2.
  16. ^ "Jews' Sufferings Grow: Aid Society Estimates the Number of Homeless at 100,000". The New York Times. June 5, 1915. p. 18.
  17. ^ "Polish Jews Pray to Retain Customs". The New York Times. February 21, 1936. p. 9.
  18. ^ "Jews Machine-gunned". Associated Press. The Washington Post. October 30, 1941. p. 3.
  19. ^ "2,500 Poles Executed: Mass Executions in Lomza and Bialystok Reported". The New York Times. November 14, 1943. p. 3.
  20. ^ Edelheit, Hershel; Edelheit, Abraham J. (1991). A World in Turmoil An Integrated Chronology of the Holocaust and World War II. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-313-28218-8.
  21. ^ a b c d e Wertheimer, Gila (October 8, 1998). "Hidden Torah to be given new life". Chicago Jewish Star (Skokie, Illinois, USA). p. 1.
  22. ^ Grant, Linda (November 8, 1998). "Poland's Promise: Writer Returns to Birthplace of Her Father, a Polish Jew, to Learn of Her Homeland". The Guardian. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. F1.
  23. ^ a b c d Namm, Leissah (March 18, 2000). "Rekindling Jewish Sparks: Descendants of Polish Jewish families protect memories and embrace future". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix (Phoenix, Arizona, USA). p. 10.
  24. ^ a b c ‹See Tfd›(in Polish) Central Statistical Office, Poland - data of 2007 year Archived September 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Polish) County Labour Bureau in Łomża: Statistics of the local job market Archived September 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Polish) "Raport o sytuacji społeczno-gospodarczej miasta Łomża," Urząd Miejski w Łomży, November 2006 (77 pages)
  27. ^ a b Bank Danych Regionalnych Głównego Urzędu Statystycznego, Łomża
  28. ^ Statystyka Lokalnego Rynku Pracy, Powiatowy Urząd Pracy w Łomży Archived September 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit