Ostrów Wielkopolski

Ostrów Wielkopolski ([ˈɔstruf vʲɛlkɔˈpɔlskʲi]) (often abbreviated Ostrów Wlkp., formerly called simply Ostrów, German: Ostrowo, Latin: Ostrovia) is a city in west-central Poland with 72,364 inhabitants (2018), situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship; the seat of Ostrów Wielkopolski County. It is the fifth-largest city in the voivodehip after Poznań, Kalisz, Konin and Piła.

Ostrów Wielkopolski
Aerial view of downtown Ostrów Wielkopolski
Aerial view of downtown Ostrów Wielkopolski
Flag of Ostrów Wielkopolski
Coat of arms of Ostrów Wielkopolski
Coat of arms
Ostrów Wielkopolski is located in Poland
Ostrów Wielkopolski
Ostrów Wielkopolski
Ostrów Wielkopolski is located in Greater Poland Voivodeship
Ostrów Wielkopolski
Ostrów Wielkopolski
Coordinates: 51°38′58″N 17°48′59″E / 51.64944°N 17.81639°E / 51.64944; 17.81639Coordinates: 51°38′58″N 17°48′59″E / 51.64944°N 17.81639°E / 51.64944; 17.81639
Country Poland
VoivodeshipGreater Poland
CountyOstrów Wielkopolski County
GminaOstrów Wielkopolski (urban gmina)
Established14th century
Town rights15th century
 • MayorBeata Klimek
 • Total41.9 km2 (16.2 sq mi)
Highest elevation
175 m (574 ft)
Lowest elevation
123 m (404 ft)
 • Total71,931 Decrease (53rd)
 • Density1,730/km2 (4,500/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
63-400 to 63-417
Area code(s)+48 62
Car platesPOS


Partyzancka Street in Ostrów Wielkopolski

Recently, a small fortified dwelling dating from the 10th century was discovered on the north-east side of the town's limits. An archeological excavation is now in progress. It was part of Poland since the establishment of the state in the 10th century.

Ostrów received town rights in 1404 but the economic stagnation caused by fires, wars, and a weak 16th-century nobility, led to the town’s officials dropping its town status in 1711. Administratively it was located in the Kalisz Voivodeship in the Greater Poland Province of the Polish Crown. In 1714, one of the nobles of Ostrów, Jan Jerzy Przebendowski [pl], intervened at the royal court, for the status to be reinstated. To help the city grow, new settlers were exempt from taxes for six years.[1] By the power of Grand Crown Marshal Franciszek Bielinski, the town received its status back with greater privileges. Another noble family, the Radziwiłł family took patronage over the town and looked over its many investments. The care of the town’s owners, work of its people, and dedication of its officials, as well as its location, favored the town’s continuous growth.

During the Second Partition of Poland, in 1793, the town was annexed by Kingdom of Prussia. Back under Polish rule as part of the short-lived Duchy of Warsaw between 1807 and 1815, it was re-annexed by Prussia, to be included within the initially autonomous Grand Duchy of Poznań in 1815. The cloth industry prospered in Ostrów until 1825, when Russia imposed tariffs on imported cloths, as a result of which many textile manufacturers moved east to the Russian Partition of Poland.[1] In 1828 local noble Antoni Radziwiłł funded the construction of a new town hall. In 1845 the Royal Catholic Gymnasium was established, a significant Polish school in the Prussian Partition of Poland,[1] which as the I Liceum Ogólnokształcące remains one of the most renowned high schools in Greater Poland. Ostrów then became an important center of Polish education, press and publishing in the region. Among the local Polish elites were Antoni Bronikowski, an outstanding Hellenist who translated the works of Plato, Homer, Thucydides and Xenophon into Polish, and poet Anastazy Cywiński [pl].[1] The establishment of a railroad hub in Ostrów was a vital turning point in its development, helping to lend the town prominent status on the local and national scene. In 1875 the first railway connections were opened, with Poznań and Kluczbork.[1] The Primate of Poland Cardinal Mieczysław Halka-Ledóchowski was imprisoned in the local prison for two years by the Prussians, before they eventually expelled him from the country.[2] After Poland regained independence, he was honored with a monument in the city.

Marshall Józef Piłsudski during his visit in Ostrów in 1919

Ostrów was an important center of Polish resistance and national liberation movements.[1] One of the town’s historic episodes was the so-called Republic of Ostrów (Republika Ostrowska), which was the citizens’ upheaval of 1918. No blood was shed at that upheaval and all political powers were taken over from the Prussian authorities. The anniversary of the upheaval, November 10, is celebrated as the official Day of the City of Ostrów Wielkopolski.[1] The first Polish mayor of Ostrów after regaining independence was Stefan Rowiński [pl], one of the leading independence activists and publishers in Ostrów before 1918.[1] In the interbellum, Ostrów was one of the fastest growing towns: the number of inhabitants doubled, showy houses were built, as well as new schools, stadiums and a swimming pool.[1] Three new villa district were founded, and a modern railcar manufacturing (Fabryka Wagon) began.[1] In 1934 the city limits were widely expanded and the villages of Stare Kamienice [pl], Zębców [pl], Wenecja and Krępa became new districts of Ostrów.

World War IIEdit

Memorial plaque at the former German labor camp which existed during the occupation of Poland

During the German invasion of Poland, which started World War II, the Einsatzgruppe III entered the city on September 7-9, 1939 to commit various crimes against Poles, and also the SS-Totenkopf-Standarte Brandenburg operated in the city.[3] During the German occupation of Poland, local Poles were subjected to mass arrests, imprisonment, deportations to Nazi concentration camps, expulsions, forced labour and massacres.

In late 1939 and early 1940, many Poles were arrested during the Intelligenzaktion, then imprisoned in Kalisz and murdered in large massacres in the Winiary forest near Kalisz.[4] Among the victims were activists, school principals, former participants of the Polish Greater Poland uprising (1918–19) against Germany, and pre-war mayor Stanisław Musielak.[5] The Germans also established a Nazi prison for Poles in Ostrów.[6][7] Further mass arrests of around 400 Poles from the county were carried out in April-May 1940, and many of the victims were then imprisoned in the local prison.[8] Teachers from Ostrów were among Polish teachers murdered in the Mauthausen concentration camp.[9] A Nazi German labor camp, Staatspolizeistelle Litzmannstadt Arbeitserziehungslager Ostrowo,[10] operated within the town's limits, where 193 people died.

The Germans carried out first expulsions of Poles in October 1939, focusing on owners of bakeries, cafes, workshops and large apartments, which were then handed over to German colonists as part of the Lebensraum policy, while expelled Poles were held in a transit camp in nearby Nowe Skalmierzyce for several weeks, and then deported to the General Government (German-occupied central Poland).[11] Further 160 Poles were expelled in December 1939 to the Radom District of the General Government.[12] Also a transit camp for Poles expelled from nearby villages was established in the local church.[12] Further expulsions of Poles were carried out in 1940–1941.[13]

The town was one of the major Polish conspiracy centers in the Greater Poland region. In 1941, after the Gestapo's crackdown on the headquarters of the Poznań branch of the underground army Union for Armed Struggle-ZWZ, the headquarters were moved to Ostrów. From here the re-structure of the Poznań region of the Union was conducted. Ostrów was liberated from German occupation on January 23, 1945.[14]

Recent periodEdit

Polish Army Barracks in 1971

After the war Ostrów Wielkopolski was part of the Poznań Voivodeship, and from 1975 to 1998 it was the second largest city of the Kalisz Voivodeship (behind Kalisz). In 1979 Ostrów's city limits were widely expanded for the second time, including the former villages Pruślin [pl], Szczygliczka, Zacharzew, Piaski, Stary Staw and Nowy Staw as new districts.


Ostrów has a well-preserved city center, with such sights as:

  • City hall (Ratusz) at the Market Square (Rynek), housing the local museum
  • Ostrów Wielkopolski Co-Cathedral
  • Virgin Mary Queen of Poland church
  • I Liceum Ogólnokształcące, the city's oldest high school, and one of the most renowned high schools of Greater Poland
  • Main Post Office
  • Monument of Primate of Poland Mieczysław Halka-Ledóchowski
  • Former synagogue

Places of interest outside the city center include:

  • Old Cemetery (Stary Cmentarz), the oldest active Catholic cemetery in Poland
  • New Cemetery (Nowy Cmentarz), opened in 1905, resting place of many distinguished figures of Ostrów, and Greater Poland insurgents, including the first fallen insurgent Jan Mertka [pl]
  • Park 3 Maja (3 May Park)
  • Park Miejski (Municipal Park)
  • Ogród Bracki (Bracki Garden)



Speedway match between KM Ostrów Wielkopolski and Śląsk Świętochłowice in Ostrów in the 1980s

From 5 July to 20 July 2013 Ostrów Wielkopolski hosted the 17th European Gliding Championships. Local pilot Łukasz Błaszczyk took a bronze medal in the Club Class.[15]

Notable residentsEdit

Memorial plaque to Krzysztof Komeda

International relationsEdit

Twin towns — sister citiesEdit

Ostrów Wielkopolski is twinned with:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Witold Banach. "Historia kołem się toczy". UMOstrów.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  2. ^ Bernadeta Kruszyk. "Mieczysław Ledóchowski". Archidiecezja Gnieźnieńska (in Polish). Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  3. ^ Wardzyńska, Maria (2009). Był rok 1939. Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. pp. 56–57, 61–62.
  4. ^ Wardzyńska (2009), p. 205-206
  5. ^ Wardzyńska (2009), p. 206
  6. ^ Wardzyńska (2009), p. 117
  7. ^ "NS-Gefängnis Ostrowo". Bundesarchiv.de (in German). Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  8. ^ Wardzyńska (2009), p. 212-213
  9. ^ Wardzyńska (2009), p. 213-214
  10. ^ http://www.kalisz.eu/files/1227097539492405c35c3fd/Oboz_w_Ostrowie-_wyklad.doc
  11. ^ Wardzyńska, Maria (2017). Wysiedlenia ludności polskiej z okupowanych ziem polskich włączonych do III Rzeszy w latach 1939-1945 (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. p. 145. ISBN 978-83-8098-174-4.
  12. ^ a b Wardzyńska (2017), p. 181
  13. ^ Wardzyńska (2017), p. 268, 319
  14. ^ Marek Weiss, Przed 73 laty w Ostrowie okupacja dobiegła końca, „Ziemia Kaliska”, No. 4, 2018, p. 10 (in Polish)
  15. ^ Website of 17th European Gliding Championships
  16. ^ "Brantford Expositor - City gets a twin". Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2009-05-31.

External linksEdit