History timeline of Jewish life in Poland


Information about the Jews in Poland has began to be publicize in Polish chronicles


Warsaw Jews administered the Polish mint. Many coins had Hebrew inscriptions.


Jews were granted freedom to have their own land in Galicia.


The General Charter of Jewish Liberties known as the Statute of Kalisz was issued by the Duke of Greater Poland Boleslaus the Pious on September 8, 1264 in Kalisz. The statute served as the basis for the legal position of Jews in Poland and led to creation of a Yiddish-speaking autonomous Jewish “nation within a nation”, which lasted until the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. The statute granted exclusive jurisdiction over Jewish matters to Jewish courts and established a separate tribunal for matters involving Christians and Jews. Additionally, it guaranteed safety and personal liberties for Jews such as freedom of religion, trade, and travel.

Early 1300

Population of Jews in Poland almost reached a thousand.


Casmir the Great issued a series of Charters protecting Jews.


Jews were granted sovereignty. in their public affairs.


The Jews were protected and given special privileges under the rule of the Grand Duke Vitovt.


First known case of Jews being persecuted in Poland.


Jews in Crakow are assaulted by rioters

Late 1400

Jewish communities are expanding, there are 60 known in Poland. Jewish population estimated around 20,000 to 30,000


Jews constrained to enter in a district in Cracow, in the first Jewish ghetto, Kazimierz.


Rabbi Shalom Shachna founds Poland’s first yeshiva (yeshiva is an institute of learning where students study sacred texts, primarily the Talmud) in Lublin


Rabbi Moses Ben Israel Isserles lives in Krakow, where he founds a yeshiva and writes a commentary to the Shulchan Aruch (The Shulchan Aruch is a codification, or written manual, of Halacha (Jewish law), composed by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 16th century)

1500s and early 1600s

Jewish social, cultural and economic life flourishes; population estimated at 80,000 to 100,000. Some Jews expelled from Spain migrated to Poland


Confederation of Warsaw of 1573 guarantees religious tolerance in Poland (The Warsaw Confederation (January 28, 1573), an important development in the history of Poland and Lithuania, is considered the formal beginning of religious freedom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and in fact is the first such document in Europe. While it did not prevent all conflict based on religion, it did make the Commonwealth a much safer and more tolerant place than most of contemporaneous Europe, especially during the subsequent Thirty Years’ War.)


Chmielnicki revolt and pogrom brings 30 years of bloodshed and suffering to Jews in Poland, bringing an end to the golden age in Poland.

  • Historian Jacob Rader Marcus summarizes the situation as follows:

“In 1654 neighboring Russia turned against Poland, a year later the Swedes poured in from the north, and all these groups, including the native Poles, ravaged and massacred defenseless Jewish victims throughout the land” (The Jew in the Medieval World, 1896).

  • The Eyewitness Chronicle details:

“Wherever they found the szlachta, royal officials or Jews, they [Cossacks] killed them all, sparing neither women nor children. They pillaged the estates of the Jews and nobles, burned churches and killed their priests, leaving nothing whole.” (Eyewitness Chronicle)


Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Ba’al Shem Tov, founds modern Chasidism


Jewish population is estimated to reach about 750,000; Jews worldwide has a population estimated at 1.2 million


Severance of Poland begin between Russia, Prussia and Austria


More than 1,200,000 Polish and Lithuanian Jews were assimilated under Russian rule during the Westward expansion of Russia.

1795 and 1882

Laws passed constraining Jews to the Pale Settlement in Russia.


A spike in growth of Jewish population (in 1781, 3,600 Jews in Warsaw or 4.5 percent of population; in 1897, 219,000 Jews in Warsaw or 33.9 percent of population)


Polish revolt against Russian rule.


Jews are given equal rights

Second Polish revolt against Russian rule.


Jewish population estimated to reach 1.3 million in Poland

Early 1900s

On eve of World War I, relationship between Poles and Jews is distorted, with the decline of Jewish influence and rise in Jewish nationalism.


Three partitioning powers of Poland collapse. (The Partitions of Poland (Polish Rozbiór or Rozbiory Polski) happened in the 18th century and ended the existence of a sovereign state of Poland (or more correctly the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). They involved Prussia, Russia and Austria dividing up the Polish lands between themselves.)


Massacre and pogrom in Lvov, part of the major reign of terror against the Jews


Russian Polish War (May to September).


Jewish population estimated to reach 2,989,000, making up 10.5 percent or more of Polish population


Poland reformed and declared as a sovereign country.


Poland shifts from democratic to authoritarian rule.


Rabbi Meir Shapiro founds Hachmei Yeshiva in Lublin; it is destroyed by the Nazis and its synagogue reopens in 2007


The concentration camp in Dachau opens (Dachau is a town in Upper Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany. It is a major district town of the administrative region of Upper Bavaria, about 20 km north-west of Munich)


Buchenwald concentration camp opens (A village of central Germany near Weimar. It was the site of a Nazi concentration camp during World War II)


Poland participates with Germany and Hungary in the disunion of Czechoslovakia.

October 28

17,000 Polish Jews in Germany were expelled. Poland denies admission; 8,000 are stranded in the border town village called Zbanzyn.

November 9&10

Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany, Austria and the Sudentenland; 200 synagogues destroyed; 7,500 Jewish shops looted; 30,000 male Jews sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen).

November 12

Decree was issued, forcing all Jews to transfer retail businesses to Aryan hands. (There are several definitions of the word Aryan. For the most part it means non-Jewish and of Nordic decent. Some people believe that it means Nazi this is not true. Today it is often used for anyone who is white with no mixed blood in them. The word comes from arya which means noble)

November 15

all Jewish pupils were stripped off their right to study in German schools

December 12

A fine was levied against the German Jews for the destruction of property during Kristallnacht. (Night of Broken Glass) also known as Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany.

Late 1930s: Rise of Hitler in Germany and new round of pogroms in Poland


Jewish population more than 3.3 million, with almost 400,000 in Warsaw, or one-third of the city’s total population


September 1
Invasion of Poland by German troops and the start of WW2. Widespread pogroms and mass executions in Poland.

September 21
Heydrich issues directives to establish ghettos in German-occupied Poland.

September 27

Polish Jews were put into forced labor

October 12

Nazis begin deporting Jews from Austria and Moravia to Poland.

October 20

First Polish ghetto established in Piotrkow. (Piotrkow Trybunalski is a town in central Poland about 26 kilometres south of Lodz; it is one of Poland’s oldest cities. Piotrkow was part of Russia between 1815 until 1915, before reverting back to Poland in 1919, it was an important industrial centre, principally for the manufacture of textiles, wood and glass products)

November 23

Jews in Poland forced to wear an arm band or star.

First resistance actions by Jewish youth in Poland.

May 7

Lodz ghetto sealed: 165,000 people in 1.6 square miles.

May 20

Auschwitz concentration camp was established

November 15

500,000 people were sealed in Warsaw Ghetto


Emmanuel Ringelbaum (Emanuel Ringelblum was a Polish-Jewish historian, politician and social worker) begins work on secret archives of Jewish life in Warsaw ghetto.


July 31

Heydrich implemented the Final Solution by the order of Goering


Establishment of Auschwitz II (Birkenau) for extermination of Jews; Gypsies, Poles, Russians and others were also murdered at the camp.

October 14

German Jews deported to Lodz, Poland (beginning of general deportations from Reich).

December 8

Chelmno death camp begins functioning: 340,000 Jews, 20,000 Poles and Czechs murdered by April 1943. Jewish partisans begin operating in Minsk area.


January 15

Nazis begin transporting Jews from Lodz to Chelmno death camp.

January 20

Wansee Conference in Berlin: Heydrich outlines plan to murder Europe’s Jews. (Wansee conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee)

March 17

Extermination begins in Belzec: by the end of 1942, 600,000 Jews murdered.

April-May 1943

Warsaw Ghetto uprising


Transports from ghettos to death camps extend over Poland.


Extermination by gas begins in Sobibor killing center; by October 1943, 250,000 Jews murdered.

June 1

Treblinka death camp opens.

July 28

Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO) set up in Warsaw ghetto.

October 4

All Jews in German concentration camps ordered deported to Auschwitz

Deportation of Jews from Germany, Greece and Norway to killing centers: Jewish partisan movement organized in forests near Lublin.


January 18

Warsaw ghetto Jews launch first civilian armed resistance to Nazis: four days of street fighting.


Liquidation of Cracow Ghetto.

March 13

New crematoriums open in Auschwitz.

April 19

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins as Germans attempt to liquidate 70,000 inhabitants; Jewish underground fights Nazis until early June.

June 11

Himmler orders the liquidation of all ghettos in Poland and the Soviet Union Deportation of Jews from Polish and Soviet ghettos to death camps ordered.

October 14

Inmate uprising in Sobibor death camp.

October 20

UN War Crimes Commission set up.


Mass emigration of Jews from Poland continues to deplete population, leaving about 57,000


May 15

Nazis begin deporting Hungarian Jews; by June 27, 380,000 sent to Auschwitz.

June 6

allied invasion at Normandy.

July 24

Russians liberate Majdanek killing center.

October 7

Revolt by inmates at Auschwitz: one crematorium blown up.


Last gassing in Auschwitz.

Last Jews deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz.


January 11

Soviet troops take Warsaw.

January 17

Evacuation of Auschwitz; beginning of death march.

January 25

beginning of death march for inmates of Stutthof.

April 6-10

Death march of inmates of Buchenwald.

April 30

Hitler commits suicide.

May 8

Germany surrenders; end of Third Reich.

August 15

World War II ends.
Russia annexes Poland


The Kielce pogrom was an outbreak of violence against the Jewish community in the city of Kielce, killing 37 and injuring more than 80.

By 1950

Stalinization of Poland stirs up anti-Semitism (Stalinization: Totalitarian communism based on the political methods of Joseph Stalin. Power is exclusively in the hands of the Communist Party, which is organized on rigidly hierarchical lines. The leader is presented, by state propaganda, as the selfless and benevolent parent of the nation. Economic policy is based on enforced industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture. The general population is controlled by a vast bureaucracy and all opposition and internal debate is ruthlessly repressed by the secret police.


Polish Communist leader Wladyslaw Gromulka comes to power. The Rebirth of anti-Semitism resulted in some 30,000 to 40,000 Jews leaving country

1970s and 1980s

About 6,000 Jews resides in Poland


Jewish population estimated to reach 30,000

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