Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland
Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland were established during World War II in hundreds of locations across occupied Poland. Most Jewish ghettos had been created by Nazi Germany between October 1939 and July 1942 in order to confine and segregate Poland's Jewish population of about 3.5 million for the purpose of persecution and exploitation. In smaller towns, ghettos served as staging points for Jewish slave-labor and mass deportation actions, while in the urban centers they resembled walled-off prison-islands described by some historians as little more than instruments of "slow, passive murder", with dead bodies littering the streets. In most cases, the larger ghettos did not correspond to traditional Jewish neighborhoods, non-Jewish Poles and members of other ethnic groups were ordered to take up residence elsewhere. Smaller Jewish communities with populations under 500 were terminated through expulsion soon after the invasion; the liquidation of the Jewish ghettos across occupied Poland was connected with the construction of secretive death camps—industrial-scale mass-extermination facilities—built in early 1942 for the sole purpose of murder.
The Nazi extermination program depended on rail transport, which enabled the SS to run and, at the same time lie to their victims about the "resettlement" program. Jews were transported to their deaths in Holocaust trains from liquidated ghettos of all occupied cities, including Łódź, the last ghetto in Poland to be emptied in August 1944. In some larger ghettos there were armed resistance attempts, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Białystok Ghetto Uprising, the Będzin and the Łachwa Ghetto uprisings, but in every case they failed against the overwhelming German military force, the resisting Jews were either executed locally or deported with the rest of prisoners to the extermination camps. By the time Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe was liberated by the Red Army, not a single Jewish ghetto in Poland was left standing. Only about 50,000–120,000 Polish Jews survived the war on native soil with the assistance of their Polish neighbors, a fraction of their prewar population of 3,500,000. In total, according to archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "The Germans established at least 1000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone."
The list of locations of the Jewish ghettos within the borders of pre-war and post-war Poland is compiled with the understanding that their inhabitants were either of Polish nationality from before the invasion, or had strong historical ties with Poland. Not all ghettos are listed here due to their transient nature. Permanent ghettos were created only in settlements with rail connections, because the food aid was dependent on the Germans, making the potato-peels a hot commodity. Throughout 1940 and 1941, most ghettos were sealed off from the outside, walled off or enclosed with barbed wire, any Jews found outside them could be shot on sight; the Warsaw Ghetto was the largest ghetto in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, with over 400,000 Jews crammed into an area of 1.3 square miles, or 7.2 persons per room. The Łódź Ghetto was the second largest, holding about 160,000 inmates. In documents and signage, the Nazis referred to the ghettos they created as Jüdischer Wohnbezirk or Wohngebiet der Juden, meaning "Jewish Quarter".
By the end of 1941, most Polish Jews were ghettoized though the Germans knew that the system was unsustainable. The quagmire was resolved at the Wannsee conference of 20 January 1942 near Berlin, where the "Final Solution" was set in place; the settlements listed in the Polish language, including major cities, had all been renamed after the 1939 joint invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union. Renaming everything in their own image had been one way in which the invaders sought to redraw Europe's political map. All Polish territories were confiscated as either Nazi zones of occupation, or Soviet brand-new extensions to the two fledgling western republics, soon overrun again in Operation Barbarossa; the Soviet Ukraine and Byelorussia witnessed the genocide of Poles just prior to invasion, resulting in the virtual absence of ethnic Poles in the USSR along the pre-war border with Poland since the Great Terror. The ghetto inhabitants – most of whom were killed during Operation Reinhard – possessed Polish citizenship before the Nazi–Soviet invasion of Poland, which in turn enabled over 150,000 Holocaust survivors registered at CKŻP to take advantage of the repatriation agreements between the governments of Poland and the Soviet Union, emigrate to the West to help form the nascent State of Israel.
Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah without visas or exit permits upon the conclusion of World War II. By contrast, Stalin forcibly brought Soviet Jews back to USSR along with all Soviet citizens, as agreed to in the Yalta Conference; some Jewish populations remained in the ghettos after their destruction. The more prominent ghetto being the Warsaw ghetto. Many Jewish people were either too destitute or still surrounded by Germans to be able to leave the ghettos, this resulted in many of the ghettos inhabitants dying from harsh conditions such as exposure, lack of food, diseases from being unclean. Another issue of the ghettos was where the displaced people who lived there would go next as refugees; the lasting impact of the Jewish ghetto refugees migration is still felt in places like Israel. Chronicles of Terror German camps in occupied Poland d
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Invasion of Poland
The Invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September Campaign or the 1939 Defensive War, in Germany as the Poland Campaign, was an invasion of Poland by Germany that marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union; the Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September following the Molotov–Tōgō agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol in the east on 16 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. German forces invaded Poland from the north and west the morning after the Gleiwitz incident. Slovak military forces advanced alongside the Germans in northern Slovakia; as the Wehrmacht advanced, Polish forces withdrew from their forward bases of operation close to the Polish–German border to more established defense lines to the east.
After the mid-September Polish defeat in the Battle of the Bzura, the Germans gained an undisputed advantage. Polish forces withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited expected support and relief from France and the United Kingdom. While those two countries had pacts with Poland and had declared war on Germany on 3 September, in the end their aid to Poland was limited. On 17 September, the Soviet Red Army invaded Eastern Poland, the territory that fell into the Soviet "sphere of influence" according to the secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all troops to neutral Romania. On 6 October, following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock and Soviet forces gained full control over Poland; the success of the invasion marked the end of the Second Polish Republic, though Poland never formally surrendered.
On 8 October, after an initial period of military administration, Germany directly annexed western Poland and the former Free City of Danzig and placed the remaining block of territory under the administration of the newly established General Government. The Soviet Union incorporated its newly acquired areas into its constituent Belarusian and Ukrainian republics, started a campaign of Sovietization. In the aftermath of the invasion, a collective of underground resistance organizations formed the Polish Underground State within the territory of the former Polish state. Many of the military exiles that managed to escape Poland subsequently joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West, an armed force loyal to the Polish government-in-exile. On 30 January 1933, the National Socialist German Workers' Party, under its leader Adolf Hitler, came to power in Germany. While the Weimar Republic had long sought to annex territories belonging to Poland, it was Hitler's own idea and not a realization of Weimar plans to invade and partition Poland, annex Bohemia and Austria, create satellite or puppet states economically subordinate to Germany.
As part of this long-term policy, Hitler at first pursued a policy of rapprochement with Poland, trying to improve opinion in Germany, culminating in the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934. Earlier, Hitler's foreign policy worked to weaken ties between Poland and France, attempted to manoeuvre Poland into the Anti-Comintern Pact, forming a cooperative front against the Soviet Union. Poland would be granted territory to its northeast in Ukraine and Belarus if it agreed to wage war against the Soviet Union, but the concessions the Poles were expected to make meant that their homeland would become dependent on Germany, functioning as little more than a client state; the Poles feared that their independence would be threatened altogether. How can they demand the rights of independent states?"The population of the Free City of Danzig was in favour of annexation by Germany, as were many of the ethnic German inhabitants of the Polish territory that separated the German exclave of East Prussia from the rest of the Reich.
The so-called Polish Corridor constituted land long disputed by Poland and Germany, inhabited by a Polish majority. The Corridor had become a part of Poland after the Treaty of Versailles. Many Germans wanted the urban port city of Danzig and its environs to be reincorporated into Germany. Danzig city had a German majority, had been separated from Germany after Versailles and made into the nominally independent Free City. Hitler sought to use this as casus belli, a reason for war, reverse the post-1918 territorial losses, on many occasions had appealed to German nationalism, promising to "liberate" the German minority still in the Corridor, as well as Danzig; the invasion was referred to by Germany as the 1939 Defensive War since Hitler proclaimed that Poland had attacked Germany and that "Germans in Poland are persecuted with a bloody terror and are driven from their homes. The series of border violations, which are unbearable to a great power, prove that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German frontier."Poland participated with Germany in the partition of Czechoslovakia that followed the Munich Agreement, although they were not part of the agreement.
It coerced Czechoslovakia to surrender the region of Český Těšín by issuing an ultimatum to that effect
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process; the official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire; the Nazi regime ended. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, on 30 January 1933; the NSDAP began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the offices and powers of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany.
All power was centralised in Hitler's person and his word became the highest law. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen; the return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity. Racism antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime; the Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the master race, the purest branch of the Aryan race. Discrimination and persecution against Jews and Romani people began in earnest after the seizure of power; the first concentration camps were established in March 1933. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, liberals and communists were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Christian churches and citizens that opposed Hitler's rule were oppressed, many leaders imprisoned.
Education focused on racial biology, population policy, fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased Germany on the international stage. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion; the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. The Nazi regime dominated neighbours through military threats in the years leading up to war. Nazi Germany made aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if these were not met, it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR, invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. By early 1941, Germany controlled much of Europe. Reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas and a German administration was established in the remainder of Poland.
Germany exploited labour of both its occupied territories and its allies. In the Holocaust, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, or shot. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was successful, the Soviet resurgence and entry of the US into the war meant the Wehrmacht lost the initiative on the Eastern Front in 1943 and by late 1944 had been pushed back to the pre-1939 border. Large-scale aerial bombing of Germany escalated in 1944 and the Axis powers were driven back in Eastern and Southern Europe. After the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviet Union from the east and the other Allies from the west, capitulated in May 1945. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war; the victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945, while common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich". The latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda as Drittes Reich, was first used in Das Dritte Reich, a 1923 book by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck; the book counted the Holy Roman Empire as the German Empire as the second. Germany was known as the Weimar Republic during the years 1919 to 1933, it was a republic with a semi-presidential system. The Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism, contentious relationships with the Allied victors of World War I, a series of failed attempts at coalition government by divided political parties. Severe setbacks to the German economy began after World War I ended because of reparations payments required under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles; the government printed money to make the payments and to repay the country's war debt, but the resulting hyperinflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic chaos, food riots.
When the government defaulted on their reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German industrial areas along the Ruhr and widespread civil unrest followed. The National Socialist German Workers' Party (National
Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust
Polish Jews were among the primary victims of the German-organized Holocaust. Throughout the German occupation of Poland, many Poles risked their lives – and the lives of their families – to rescue Jews from the Germans. Poles were, by the most numerous persons who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. To date, 6,863 ethnic Poles have been recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous among the Nations – more, by far, than the citizens of any other country; the Home Army alerted the world to the Holocaust through the reports of Polish Army officer Witold Pilecki, conveyed by Polish government-in-exile courier Jan Karski. The Polish government-in-exile and the Polish Secret State pleaded, to no avail, for American and British help to stop the Holocaust; some estimates put the number of Polish rescuers of Jews as high as 3 million, credit Poles with saving up to some 450,000 Jews, from certain death. The rescue efforts were aided by one of the largest resistance movements in Europe, the Polish Underground State and its military arm, the Home Army.
Supported by the Government Delegation for Poland, these organizations operated special units dedicated to helping Jews. Polish rescuers of Jews were hampered by the most stringent conditions in all of German-occupied Europe. Occupied Poland was the only country where the Germans decreed that any kind of help to Jews was punishable by death for the rescuer and the rescuer's entire family. Of the estimated 3 million non-Jewish Poles killed in World War II, thousands – as many as 50,000 – were executed by the Germans for saving Jews. Before World War II, 3,300,000 Jewish people lived in Poland – ten percent of the general population of some 33 million. Poland was the center of the European Jewish world; the Second World War began with the Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. By October 1939, the Second Polish Republic was split in half between two totalitarian powers. Germany occupied 48.4 percent of central Poland. Racial policy of Nazi Germany regarded Poles as "sub-human" and Polish Jews beneath that category, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence.
One aspect of German foreign policy in conquered Poland was to prevent its ethnically diverse population from uniting against Germany. The Nazi plan for Polish Jews was one of concentration and total annihilation in the Holocaust known as the Shoah. Similar policy measures toward the Polish Catholic majority focused on the murder or suppression of political and intellectual leaders as well as the Germanization of the annexed lands which included a program to resettle Germans from the Baltics and other regions onto farms and homes owned by the expelled Poles including Polish Jews; the response of the Polish majority to the Jewish Holocaust covered an wide spectrum ranging from acts of altruism at the risk of endangering their own and their families' lives, through compassion, to passivity and blackmail. Polish rescuers faced threats from unsympathetic neighbours, the Polish-German Volksdeutsche, the ethnic Ukrainian pro-Nazis, as well as blackmailers called szmalcowniks, along with the Jewish collaborators from Żagiew and Group 13.
The Catholic saviors of Jews were betrayed under duress by the Jews in hiding following capture by the German military police, which resulted in the Nazi murder of the entire networks of Polish helpers. In 1941, at the onset of German-Soviet war, the main architect of the Holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich, issued his operational guidelines for the mass anti-Jewish actions carried out with the participation local gentiles. Massacres of Polish Jews by the Ukrainian and Lithuanian auxiliary battalions followed. Deadly pogroms were committed in over 30 locations across Soviet-occupied parts of Poland, including in Brześć, Białystok, Łuck, Lwów, Stanisławów, in Wilno where the Jews were murdered along with the Poles in the Ponary massacre at a ratio of 3-to-1. National minorities participated in pogroms led by OUN-UPA, YB, TDA and BKA. Local participation in the Nazi German "cleansing" operations included the Jedwabne pogrom of 1941; the Einsatzkommandos were ordered to organize them in all eastern territories occupied by Germany.
Less than one tenth of 1 per cent of native Poles collaborated, according to statistics of the Israeli War Crimes Commission. Ethnic Poles assisted Jews by organized as well as by individual efforts. Many Poles offered food to Polish Jews or left it in places Jews would pass on their way to forced labor. Other Poles directed Jewish ghetto escapees to Poles; some Poles sheltered Jews for a few nights. A special role fell to Polish physicians. Dr. Eugeniusz Łazowski, known as the "Polish Schindler", saved 8,000 Polish Jews in Rozwadów from deportation to death camps by simulating a typhus epidemic. Dr. Tadeusz Pankiewicz gave out free medicines in the Kraków Ghetto, saving an unspecified number of Jews. Professor Rudolf Weigl, inventor of the first effective vaccine against epidemic typhus and protected Jews in his Weigl Institute in Lwów. Dr. Tadeusz Kosibowicz, director of the state hospital in Będzin, was sentenced to death for rescuing Jewish fugitives (but the sentence was commuted
Jewish Ghetto Police
The Jewish Ghetto Police or Jewish Police Service called the Jewish Police by Jews, were auxiliary police units organized within the Nazi ghettos by local Judenrat. Members of the Jewish Police did not have official uniforms wearing just an identifying armband, a hat, a badge, were not allowed to carry firearms, although they did carry batons. In ghettos where the Judenrat was resistant to German orders, the Jewish police were used to control or replace the council. One of the largest Jewish police units was to be found in the Warsaw Ghetto, where the Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst numbered about 2,500; the Łódź Ghetto had about 1,200, the Lwów Ghetto 500. Anatol Chari, a policeman in the Łodz Ghetto, in his memoirs describes his work protecting food depots, controlling bakery employees, as well as patrols aimed at the confiscation of food from the ghetto residents, he recounts the involvement of Jewish Policemen in swindling food rations and in forcing women to provide sexual services in exchange for bread.
The Polish-Jewish historian and Warsaw Ghetto archivist Emanuel Ringelblum has described the cruelty of the ghetto Jewish police as "at times greater than that of the Germans, the Ukrainians and the Latvians." The Jewish ghetto police shared the same fate with all their fellow ghetto inmates. On the ghettos' liquidation they were either sent to extermination camps. Kapo Żagiew Group 13 Kraków Ghetto Jewish Police Anonymous; the Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-01283-8. A Jewish Policeman in Lwow An Early Account, 1941-1943 Ben Z. Redner Translator: Jerzy Michalowicz ISBN 978-965-308-504-6 Judischer Ordnungsdienst at Yad Vashem The Relations between the Judenrat and the Jewish police at Yad Vashem Ghetto Police at the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
Szydłowiec is a town in Szydłowiec County, Mazovian Voivodeship, with 15,243 inhabitants. It is the seat of Szydłowiec Commune. From 1975 to 1998, it was in the Radom Voivodeship. Szydłowiec belongs to Lesser Poland, from its beginnings until 1795, it was part of Lesser Poland's Sandomierz Voivodeship. From the 12th century the environs of Szydłowiec belonged to the powerful knightly family of Odrowąż, who were descended from Moravian-Bohemian Baworowic family. In the 13th century the site of the present castle was occupied by a stronghold on an artificial island with wood and earth defences and by a village called Szydłowiec; the present town came into being in the early 15th century and together with the neighbouring estate was the property of the Szydłowiecki and Radziwiłł families until the 19th century. The town flourished in the first half of 17th centuries, it was an important centre of trade and crafts stone-masonry based on the exploatition of the local sandstone, easy to work. This stone was used to make tools for agriculture.
It was a building material for the local Saint Sigsmunt Church, Castle in Szydłowiec and the Town hall in Szydłowiec. Among the goods traded in were agricultural products; the period of wars 1648–1717 and numerous epidemics and fires brought about a decline of Szydłowiec, which persisted for centuries, its state being yet aggravated after the partitions of Poland. The town owes this present character to transformations in urban design and architecture which took place in the second half of the 19th century and in the 20th century. Szydłowiec had a strong Jewish community until World War II. At one point it had a population, of a Jewish majority, it was home to Grand Rabbi Natan David Rabinowitz, the grandson of Grand Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz of Peshischa, the father of the Biala Hasidic dynasty. "Here Their Stories Will Be Told..." The Valley of the Communities at Yad Vashem, Szydłowiec, at Yad Vashem website